BRYAN CAMERON POSTCARD COLLECTION
No. 1420. Avro 691 Lancastrian XPP (CF-CMW) Trans-Canada Air Lines
Photographed at Montreal Airport, Dorval, Quebec, Canada
Postcard text: "T.C.A. Trans Atlantic Service Lancaster ready
for the Overseas Flight from Montreal Airport, Dorval, Canada."
Added April 2, 2002
To prepare for a Canadian transatlantic service, M. B. Barc1ay and G. B. Lothian, senior Trans Canada Air Lines captains, were seconded to the R.A.F. JB. O.A. C. N orth Atlantic ferry in 1941 and a British -built Lancaster III R5727 acquired. This was flown to Malton in August 1942 where Victory Aircraft Ltd. faired over the nose and tail turrets and removed the mid-upper. Stripped of camouflage and provided with three extra windows at the rear, it was handed over to T.C.A. for evaluation and given Fleet No. 100. Known affectionatelyas "Old T.C.A.100", it made experimental freight runs from Moncton to Goose Bay piloted by Capt. Barc1ay and quickly proved its ability to carry 10ads of up to 14,000 lb. over great distances at reasonable speed. It was then flown back to England where A. V. Roe and Co. Ltd. completed its demilitarisation and replaced the turrets by streamlined wooden fairings designed and supplied by Victory Aircraft Ltd. Unlike the nose cones of later conversions, that ofT.C.A.100 was quite short and housed the navigator under a glazed roof. Extra fuel tanks increased the still air range to 4,000 miles and seats for ten passengers were installed. Re-camouflaged, registered CF-CMS and piloted by Capt. R. F. George, it inaugurated the T.C.A.¬operated Canadian Government Trans Atlantic Air Service on J uly 22, 1943 by flying 4 tons of Forces' mail nonstop Dorval-Prestwick in the record time of 12 hrs. 26 min. The machine was then c1eared for passenger carrying, was granted a British C. of A. on September 1, 1943 and on March 3, 1944 set up a westbound record to Montreal of 12 hr. 59 min. carrying 3,6111b. of mail, 4351b. offreight and four passengers. These successes prompted T.C.A. to convert two Canadian-built Lancaster Xs at Montreal. Redesignated Lancaster XPPs they were joined later in 1944 by five more Lancaster Xs converted by Victory Aircraft Ltd. at Malton, who produced a more elegant version with longer, all-metal, semi-monocoque nose which increased themail capacity to 3-1 tons. One T.C.A. conversion was lost over the Atlantic with British Admiralty officials in December 1944, and CF-CMS was burned out in a take-off accident at Dorval in June 1945 during trials with four Merlin 85 engines in Lincoln-type annular cowlings. The remaining six plied twice weekly between Dorval and Prestwick until September 16, 1946 when the route was extended to London and became a public scheduled service, but the aircraft were quite uneconomic in civil use and were replaced in 1947, having completed 1,900 ocean crossings. An outstanding long distance flight was made by CF-CMW (Capt. G. B. Lothian) which left Prestwick on July 9, 1946 with a crew of four and ten passengers and flew to Vancouver in an elapsed time of 28 hrs. 23 min. with a single refuelling stop at Dorval. A more sophisticated conversion with 500 gallon fuel tanks in the bomb bay but outwardly sirnilar to the Victory machine, was put into production by A. V. Roe and Co. Ltd. in 1944 under the designationAvro 691 Lancastrian 1. Ca) Exploratory conversions 1943-44 CF-CMS T.C.A.IOO, ex R5727, C. of A. 1.9.43, burned out at Dorval 6.45 CF-CMT T.C.A.lOl, ex KB701Conversions by T.C.A. at Montreal, one CF-CMU T.C.A.I02, ex KB702 lost eastbound over the Atlantic 12.44 Cb) By Victory Aircraft Ltd., Toronto 1944 CF-CMV T.C.A.103, ex KB729, to Flight Refuelling Ltd. 9.47 as G-AKDO CF-CMW T.C.A.104, ex KB730, to Onzeair Ltd., Karachi as AP-ACM, crashed at Manipur, Pakistan 1.8.48 CF-CMX T.C.A.105, ex FM184, to Onzeair Ltd., Karachi CF-CMY T.C.A.I06, ex FM185, to Flight Refuelling Ltd. 1.48 as G-AKDP, crashed en route Berlin-Hamburg 10.5.49 CF-CMZ T.C.A.I07, ex FM186, to Flight Refuelling Ltd. 3.48 as G-AKDR CF-CNA T.C.A.108, ex FM187, to Flight Refuelling Ltd. 12.47 as G-AKDS } In 1943 the Canadian Government took the decision to set up a transatlantic air service, an idea which had been under consideration for some time. The service was to be non-commercial, with air mail service to the Canadian forces overseas being the prime purpose , but some vital express as weil as certain military, Governmental, and essential war service passengers would also be carried. The aircraft were to be owned by the Canadian Government Trans-Atlantic Air Service (CGT AS) but would be operated by Trans-Canada Air Lines for the Government. Canadian-built Avro 685 Yorks we re to be used but to initiate the service the British Ministry of Aircraft Production agreed to allow a British Lancaster 111, R5727, th en in North America, to be used. R5727 had been ftown to Canada in August 1942 by the well-known Clyde Pangborn and had been used for demon¬stration in Canada and the United States. In March 1943 Victory Aircraft re¬moved the Service equipment and the aircraft was turned over to TCA on the 19th but was then requisitioned to fty much-needed materials from Moncton to Goose Bay. R5727 was th en ftown to England on 15 May where it was given a pointed, plywood nose, long-range tanks, and new engines were fitted. It was then registered CF-CMS and made the first Atlantic crossing for the CGT AS from Prestwick to Dorval Airport on 1/2 July, 1943. Since one aircraft was not enough to get the new service going, permission was granted for two aircraft, and Victory Aircraft selected its third and fourth machines, KB702 and KB703, for allocation to the CGTAS. TCA requested a long list of modifications to be made to the standard Lancaster X bomber, but the two macl1ines were handed over stripped of all armament, armour plate and other military equipment, and with fairings over the turret openings. The aircraft had RAF serials and standard bomber camouflage on the upper surfaces but un¬painted lower surfaces. TCA had requested that the machines be left unpainted but this was not deemed prudent when flying in wartime and it was not until1945 that it was permitted. The aircraft as turned over to TCA were known as Lancaster X Transports. The first Lancaster X Transport, KB702, was first flown by E. H. Taylor on 9 September, 1943, at Malton and the second, KB703, on 25 September. Perform¬ance tests were done on KB702 on 10, 12 and 13 September, with E. H. Taylor piloting and K. M. Molson as engineering observer. The performance was as follows: average of five take-off times was 23•3 sec at an average weight of 53,7001b (24,380 kg); maximum speed 303mph (487•5km/h) at 19,000 ft (5,790 m). The cIimb test was terminated at 21,500 ft (6,553 m) due to illness of a crew member but the service ceiling was estimated at 25,100 ft (7,650 m). There was no standard to compare these figures with but TCA's Capt M. B. BarcIay considered they were better than R5727, the only comparable Lancaster. Capt M. B. BarcIay and G. B. Lothian accepted the first Lancaster X Transport on 17 September. TCA then proceeded to incorporate most of the modifications requested earlier. These incIud6d the installation of dual controls, a fully shock-mounted intrument panel to airline standards, two long-range fuel tanks installed in the bomb bay, bomb doors replaced by fairings, new radio installation to airline standards, and the astrodome moved forward. The nose was modified to become a cargo compartment, and de-icing boots were installed on the wings and tail¬plane. The aircraft were then registered CF-CMT and CF-CMU. What passenger facilities we re added at this time, if any, is not known. Gn 12 January, 1944, CF-CMT, commanded by Capt BarcIay, took offfrom Dorval just after the British-built CF-CMS and landed at Prestwick 11 hr 14 min later, establishing a new record for the crossing. This also was the first time a Canadian-built aircraft operated a scheduled airline service and the first time a Canadian-built aircraft had crossed the Atlantic in civil use. By August 1943 it had been decided that a modified Lancaster should replace the proposed York on the Atlantic route. Victory Aircraft was th en asked to modify two Lancasters to TCA's requirements. A new nose replacing the bomber nose was designed as a mail compartment with front loading door. The re ar fuselage was terminated at the tailplane rear spar and a new tail portion spliced in. The lines for both these new portions we re lofted full-size on metal and repro¬duced photographically to con trol the tooling, believed to be the first time this process was used in Canada. The bo mb floor above the bomb bay was terminated at former 17 which lengthened the cabin space available in the re ar fuselage. Two 400 Imp gal (1,820 litre) long-range tanks we re installed at the re ar ofthe remain¬ing bomb bay space and the approximately 6 ft (1•83 m) space at the front was converted into a mail compartment with an extern al door on the starboard side. Dual controls, instruments, radio and astrodrome were al! installed to TCA's requirements and the de-icing boots we re now fitted to the fins as weil as the wings and tailplane. The passenger facilities we re somewhat rudimentary. Five seats with individual windows we re provided on each side. A modified form of the original bomber heating system was used and no commissary was installed. The Elsan toilet remained as on the bomber just ahead of the tailplane and outside the heated cabin area. The cabin was lined with 16 in (1•6 mm) birch plywood and a single row of overhead lights was provided. The modified machine was designated Lancaster XPP for Lancaster X Passenger Plane although it was usually referred to at Victory Aircraft as the Lancaster Mailplane in deference to its prime purpose. These two machines were delivered in July and September 1944. Then four more aircraft were ordered with the intention of eventually introduc¬ing a daily transatlantic service. These were essentially the same as the first two Lancaster XPPs but had greatly improved passenger accommodation Two 100.000 BTU (25.201'6 cal) Janitrol heaters we re fitted in the centre section to heat the passenger cabin. The external heater air intake on the port side of the fuselage centre section above the wing was the only external distinguishing feature between the two Lancaster XPP versions. Above the long-range tanks was a steward's compartment with a work desk and a commissary for food storage and heating. The cabin area was soundproofed and lined with fabric and an overhead rack for coats and hats installed. Each seat now had its own light. A small washroom. with Elsan unit and washbasin. was opposite the entrance door. These last four XPPs we re delivered in August 1945. TCA noted that 'they are of excellent workmanship with passenger facilities superior to those of the TCA domestic fleet'. In 1946 the first two XPPs we re returned to Victory Aircraft, by then Avro Canada. to be brought up to the same standard. The aircraft flew direct between Dorval and Prestwiek when conditions permit¬ted, a distance of about 3.050 miles (4.907 km). Stops were made if required. and they of ten we re on the return flight. at Gander in Newfoundland, or Goose Bay, Labrador. The average altitudes were: in summer 8-10,000 ft (2,400--3.000 m) and in winter 12-20.000 ft (3.600-6.000 m). and oxygen had to be used at high altitudes. The occasion al flight over the southern route was made with a stop at the Azores and sometimes Bermuda. The average crossing time appears to have been about 13 hr 25 min but under favourable conditions faster fJ.ights were frequent. The fastest time was made by Capt G. B. Lothian on 5/6 November, 1944, ftying from Dorval to Prestwiek in 10 hr 15 min in CF-CMV. He also made a fine long-distance ftight when he left Prestwiek on 9 July, 1946, and ftew to Vancouver, in CF-CMW in an elapsed time of 28 hr 23 min, having made a single refuelling stop at DorvaI. One aircraft was lost on the Atlantic service. On 29 December, 1944, CF-CMU, left Dorval at 23•59 with a crew of four under the command of Capt Maurice Gauthier. and one pasenger, Sir Alfred E. Evans, Chief of the British Admiralty Technical Mission in Ottawa. It was over the Atlantic and had been in touch with Prestwiek when at 06•49 on 30 December Goose Bay received a Mayday signal from it but na other station received it. The aircraft was believed to be at 23,000 ft (7,010 m) and approximately 600 miles (965 km) east of Torbay, Newfoundland, but a sea and air search found na trace. An inquiry was unable to determine a probable cause of its loss. Considerable trouble was experienced with the Merlin 38 engines and many failures occurred. Rolls-Royce feIt this was caused by extended running at low power and low temperatures and developed a modified MerIin T.24 to alleviate the trouble. The first of these were installed in CF-CMX and CF-CMY in September 1945 and these engines were later replaced by Merlin TMDs which we re intended as a further improvement. At the end of the war TCA was able to accept paying passen gers on the Atlantic route and the Lancaster XPPs continued in use until replaced by Douglas DC-4Ms in April 1947. Six ofthe Lancaster XPPs we re sold in 1947 and 1948; four were used by Flight Refuelling Ltd and served as tankers during the Berlin Air Lift, and two were sold to Pakistan. The last British Lancaster XPPs we re scrapped in 1951. FoUT 1,390 hp Rolls- Royce Merlin 38 or four 1,570 hp Rolls- Royce Merlin T .24 or 1,570 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin TMD. Span 102 ft (31,1 m); length 76 ft 10 in (23•4 m); height 19 ft 6 in (5•9m); wing area 1,205sqft (1l2sqm). Empty weight 37,080lb (16,834kg)*; loaded weight 63,000 lb (28,602 kg)**. Maximum speed 310 mph (490 km/h) at 12,000 ft (3,660 m); cruising speed 275mph (440km/h) at 11,000 ft (3,350mt; climb 750ft/min (230m/min) at 9,500ft (2,900mt; service ceiling 23,000 ft (7,015m). *Weight varied between the two versions and between aircraft. Weights quoted are for CF-CMY on 8 December, 1945, and it is representative of the final version. **Lancaster XPPs may have been flown at higher gross weights later. °Performance figures are for the Avro 691 Lancastrian. Lancaster XPP figures would have been very similar.