Immediately below the cockpit at the front of a Lancaster bomber were stations for the front gunner in his power-operated turret and for the bomb aimer. This nose compartment for these two crew members was reached by a one step down from the main cabin. The bomb aimer, when in position, had to lie flat on his stomach and look through the large circular perspex blister at the front of the aircraft.
Three miles from the target, the bomb aimer would take over from the navigator in order to direct the pilot towards the aiming position, normally marked by target indicator flares. In late production Lancasters the bomb aimer could even steer the aircraft himself, having controls linked to the rudder and ailerons via the automatic pilot mechanism. During the hazardous thirty seconds run-in to the target, the bomb aimer would give a running commentary to the rest of the crew as he had a clear view forwards and downwards through his optically flat aiming panel. The crew would be waiting for the welcome phrase from the bomb aimer – “bombs gone!”
The Museum has recently constructed an exact replica of a Lancaster Bomb Aimer Control Panel from original parts. Assistance for this project was provided by the Imperial War Museum who allowed access to their Lancaster DV372 cockpit on display at Lambeth. John Elvins, the Museum’s volunteer who carried out this project, was permitted to take photographs of DV372’s bomb aimer’s position to ensure an accurate replica of the control panel.
THE LANCASTER BOMB AIMER CONTROL PANEL CAN BE SEEN DISPLAYED IN THE MUSEUM’S MIDDLE HALL.