Avro Lancaster PR1

Avro Lancaster PR1 TW 904 of 82 Sqn

Even before the war ended some of the RAFs strategic photo-reconnaissance aircraft began survey operations on behalf of the Colonial Office. Six Lancaster bombers were converted into Lancaster PR1 photo-reconnaissance aircraft by having their gun turrets removed and fared over. The converted aircraft were fitted with the F49 camera, designed for air survey work of fine definition. The large F49 camera had a 20-inch lens and when loaded with film weighed almost 87 pounds. The camera could be operated electrically or manually and the magazine held 200 exposures of 9 inch by 9 inch film.

Alongside Mosquito PR34 and Anson C19 aircraft, Lancaster PR1s were utilised to carry out photographic surveys of various African and Middle Eastern countries, parts of which had not been accurately mapped. Between Oct 1946 and Dec 1953, 82 Sqn carried out surveys over Nigeria, the Gold Coast, Sierra Leone, the Gambia and Kenya. Lancaster PR1 aircraft of 683 Sqn also conducted photographic surveys over various Arabian and African states. These surveys were normally conducted with the full knowledge of the country involved and enabled the country concerned to be accurately mapped by the Ordnance Survey.