Avro Lancaster Crew Members
The Avro Lancaster was normally manned by seven crew
(standard) of seven:
Pilot, Flight Engineer,
Navigator, Bomb Aimer, Wireless Operator, and two Air
(special) of Eight:
Pilot, Flight Engineer,
Navigator, Bomb Aimer, Wireless Operator, two Air Gunners,
and Special Equipment Operator.
Pilot - Seated on the left hand side of the cockpit.
There was no Co-Pilot.
Flight Engineer -
Seated next to the pilot on a folding seat.
Navigator - seated at a table facing to the port
(left) of the aircraft and directly behind the pilot and
Bomb Aimer - seated
when operating the front gun turret, but positioned in a
laying position when directing the pilot on to the aiming
point prior to releasing the bomb load.
Wireless Operator -
seated, facing forward and directly beside the navigator.
Gunner - seated in the mid upper turret, which was
also in the unheated section of the fuselage.
Rear Gunner - or
"Tail End Charlie" seated rear turret this too was
in the unheated section of the fuselage and was also the most
isolated position. Most rear gunners once in their turrets
did not see another member of the crew until the aircraft
returned to base, sometime 10 hours after departing.
Some General Facts About The Aircrews.
Each crew member volunteered for aircrew dues. None were
conscripted into their jobs.
A crew was formed by the pilots picking out each crew
member from those available at the Conversion Unit they were
posted to. Conversion Units were one of the last steps in
an aircrew's training period before they reached an operation
An Operational Tour for a bomber crew consisted of thirty,
non-aborted, operational sorties. Upon completion of their
tour, the crew were normally given time to rest by being assigned
to various conversion units, non-operational units, etc. It
was not uncommon for a rested crew member to volunteer for a
An exception for thirty operations in a tour applied to the
crew of the Pathfinder Force ( No. 8 Group). These crews were
required to complete forty-five operations before resting. The
additional fifteen trips were required, because of the high rate
of training and practice required in order to become
proficient in target marking. More often than not, Pathfinder
crews continued on; in the hopes of making the magic sixty
Operations (or two tours) mark.
Some crews were increased to eight members.
This was usually due to one of the following
a) The crew was attached to the Pathfinders. These crews
often had an extra Navigator/Radar Operator who operated the
H2S blind bombing radar.
b) The crew was attached to the No. 100 Group and/or was
operating an aircraft equipped with Airborne Cigar (ABC). In
either case, a German speaking radio operator was added. Their
job was to scan for German night-fighter radio frequencies.
Once they located one, they would tune one of several jamming
transmitters on board the aircraft to the frequency. They
would there by prevent further information from being
transmitted from the German
ground controllers to the night-fighter pilots.
c) All new pilots were required to fly one or two
familiarization or "Second Dickey" trips with a veteran crew
in order to expose them to operational hazards and the
German defenses. Although, the new pilots did not take their
crew with them on these trips, the trips usually counted
towards the pilot's tour of operations. Most pilots, however,
continued to fly with their crews until all members had
completed the required thirty trips.