Lancaster bomber F104 arrived at its new home at the B.C. Aviation Museum near Victoria International Airport on Saturday. The aircraft was built in Toronto in 1944 and was in service until 1966. It then stood on display near the Toronto lakeshore for more than 30 years before being put in storage. In July, the B.C. Aviation Museum won its bid for the bomber, which it plans to restore to flying condition with the help of Victoria Air Maintenance, an internationally known firm of aircraft restorers. Only two other Lancasters in the world are in flying condition, according to the museum.
It was a thrilling day for members of the B.C. Aviation Museum in North Saanich, as the museum has now formally taken possession of a Lancaster bomber FM104 from the city of Toronto.
“Behind me are five trucks that have brought the pieces of the Lancaster FM104 from Ontario,” said museum president John Lewis.
“This particular aircraft, the FM104, flew on the east coast for 20 years. It was built in Toronto at the end of 1944, went to Europe, but never flew in combat.
“It then flew for 20 years with the Maritime Command of the RCAF, and was then presented to the city of Toronto.
“In 1999” Lewis continues, “it was lent to a museum in Toronto to restore, but that museum went bankrupt, and the restoration was never completed.”
Now, that task has fallen to the B.C. Aviation Museum, as it was the successful Canadian bidder to receive the bomber, in pieces, from Toronto.
“We’re saying it’s at least ten years, so it will be a long time before you see this in one piece” says Lewis.
“But in the meantime, the main components will be visible in the hangar. You’ll be able to see the fuselage, the wings. You’ll be able to see us working in the restoration hangar.”
“It was obviously vandalized and lived in by people,” said Grant Hopkins from Victoria Air Maintenance. “Anything that you could tear off of it has been removed from the inside of it. So some of that’s going to be difficult to replace.”
Lewis agrees. “It’s particularly complicated in our case, because we intend ultimately to restore it to flying condition, when it will be one of only three Lancasters in the world that fly.”
“We have a long history of doing warbird restorations” said Hopkins. “There’s a lot of aircraft that get discovered in a barn, or wrecked somewhere, that need to get packed up and transported, and then restored back to flying condition again so, that’s part of what we do.”
“The challenging bit will be the fundraising” said Lewis. “And that’s the important thing. We hope to get a lot of people involved with that, so that they see a need to help keep this project going and donate towards it. That’s a very important program.”
“The Lancaster is an iconic aircraft” added Lewis proudly. “It was the most important heavy bomber in the strategic bombing offensive against Germany, that went on from 1942 to the end of the war.
“Worldwide there are 17 Lancasters in existence. Eight of them are in Canada, but worldwide, only two fly. Up until now there’s never been a Lancaster in British Columbia, so we’re doubly excited to finally have one here.”