Our UK correspondent Gary Eason reported that the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster, PA474, will have not one but two new paint schemes following its winter service.
The left-hand side will be painted as 460 (RAAF) Squadron Lancaster W5005, coded AR-L “Leader”, which had nose art of a kangaroo playing bagpipes, indicating the Australian and Scottish backgrounds of one of its crews. (Some sources say this was on JB607 AR-N, but Gary is reliably informed that this is a case of mistaken identity).
The right side will carry the 50 Squadron code letters VN-T, representing the Lancaster flown by FO Douglas Millikin DFC – grandfather of the BBMF’s current Officer Commanding, Squadron Leader Andy “Milli” Millikin, on 27 of his first tour of 30 operations.
PA474, the only Lancaster currently still flying on this side of the Atlantic, recently flew from its base at RAF Coningsby to the Imperial War Museum at Duxford for a major winter service, during which the repaint will also be carried out. The decision on the new colors was confirmed this week and announced at the flight’s end-of-season guest dinner by Sqn Ldr Millikin.
Today the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is a household name and a national institution but the modern BBMF was created from humble beginnings and though it paid the same mark of respect it did so under tight constraint. It has gone from being a loose collection of ‘obsolete types’ tucked away in the corner of various hangars, to a dedicated unit with its own headquarters, entrusted with caring for priceless assets of British aviation heritage. The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (RAFBBMF) is administratively part of the Royal Air Force No 1 Group and operates from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
Gary Eason is a Journalist, photographer and digital artist. To buy Gary’s prints click HERE.