In 2007 Leo McKinstry wrote a rather fine book about the Second World War’s iconic fighter aircraft – the Supermarine Spitfire. It seems only natural, therefore, that he should follow this up with a book about the Avro Lancaster, the war’s pre-eminent bomber. Like the Spitfire, the Lancaster was loved by its pilots, who appreciated its surprising manoeuvrability, its aesthetics and its ability to absorb punishment. Like the Spitfire, it inspired envy in Britain’s allies and enemies alike, whose own bomber aircraft simply did not compare.
However, the Lancaster has never quite captured the public’s imagination as the Spitfire has. While the famous fighter plane has become synonymous with British pluck in the face of overwhelming adversity, the Lancaster’s story has taken on rather more sinister overtones. Instead of the chivalrous notion of ‘knights