On March 6th 1944 the Lancasters and Halifax’s of Bomber Command began an offensive against the German transport network in occupied Europe, attacking railway yards in France.
The Avro Lancaster became the most effective heavy bomber of WW2 and formed the back-bone of the Bomber Offensive against German industrial cities. It was well-liked by pilots, having four powerful and reliable Rolls-Royce Merlin engines (the same as were fitted to the Spitfire fighter) and excellent handling characteristics. It had a crew of seven (Pilot, Navigator, Flight Engineer, Wireless Operator, Bomb Aimer/Front Gunner, Mid-Upper Gunner and Rear Gunner). Specially adapted Lancasters took part in the famous ‘Dambusters’ raid. Lancasters also dropped five ton ‘Tallboy’ bombs to sink the much-feared German battleship ‘Tirpitz’ and by the end of the war were able to drop the 10 ton ‘Grand Slam’ bomb on precision targets such as bridges and viaducts.
The four-engine Halifax was an important bomber which played a major role in the Bomber Offensive, though it was never as successful as the Lancaster. The Halifax was repeatedly updated to try and improve handling problems and poor engine performance which made it more vulnerable to flak and fighters and thus caused an increased loss rate. Later versions were much improved.