Lincolnshire

UK's only flying Lancaster back in the air after 'major' overhaul

Lancaster bomber Image copyright Aircraft Restoration Company
Image caption The bomber has new nose artwork featuring a bagpipe playing kangaroo

The UK's only flying Lancaster bomber has taken to the air in its first test after undergoing "major maintenance".

As well as a complete overhaul, the aircraft was given new nose art featuring a kangaroo and bagpipes.

It is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, is currently at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford.

The Lancaster is due to return to its base for the BBMF's 60th anniversary celebrations next week.

After the flight on Monday, Flt Lt Tim Dunlop tweeted that the aircraft now has a "new car smell".

'Living memorial'

The Aircraft Restoration Company, which carried out the nine-month project on the aircraft, described it as "an honour and a privilege".

The Lancaster was previously grounded in 2015 after an engine fire.

One of only two in the world permitted to fly, it was forced to miss most of the display season.

Speaking at the time, Flt Lt Dunlop said it was very frustrating.

"These historic aircraft are happiest in the air and that's where we want them to be - as a living memorial to the crews who flew them," he said.

Following the incident, the Lancaster was also excluded from VE Day commemorations.

Image copyright Aircraft Restoration Company
Image caption The Lancaster took its first test flight on Monday after nine months of maintenance work

However, it is hoped the aircraft will return to Coningsby in time to be part of the BBMF's 60th anniversary celebrations on 11 July.

The Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, who is patron of the flight, will also be in attendance.

More than 7,300 Lancasters were built during World War Two but most were scrapped in the years after 1945.

The BBMF's Lancaster, formerly known as Thumper, is allowed to fly a strictly limited number of hours each year, in order to extend its airworthiness.

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