It had four gigantic engines. They made 7,377 of them. They were one of the simplest most successful aircraft designs of world war II It featured a multipurpose and massively large bomb bay that accommodated devastating weaponry from 4000 pound bombs to 12000 pound tallboys meant to bust bunkers. Lancasters also carried the 22,000 pound Grand Slam bombs, the largest non nuclear bombs carried in the entire war. The Lancaster aircraft built by Avro in the UK was the workhorse night bomber during the war to stop the Nazis. It was the foresight of designers that made the Lancaster a great test bed for new anti submarine technology and other battlefield roles. The Lancaster was used for deploying the anti dam bouncing bombs in the Ruhr. It was the various bomb loads that the crews prepared the Lancaster for that made it unusual in the war. The bombing packages were quite precise and crews used to for exact missions, incendiaries around factories, redoubt reduction, anti heavy industry bomb packages and even port mining. The Lancasters also used quite a suite of electronic warfare equipment for example acting as pathfinder aircraft marking bomb targets; jamming enemy radars: rear looking radars and the Oboe radar location tracking system that kept crews from getting lost. Lancasters were used to drop food for people trapped and running out of provisions.
The Lancaster was piloted and operated by a crew of 7. It could reach 45,000 feet altitude, travel at just under 300 miles per hours and go 1500 miles on one tank of gas.
At the nose of the plane was a bubble canopy view window and firing station for Browning twin .303 machine guns with 1000 rounds each. He often laid prone below that gun to use the bomb aiming gear. Or he could sit up and look through the bubble canopy and help the navigator negotiate the way to and out of targets.
Over the bomb bay the pilot and flight engineer sat side by side. The pilot sat on the left in a raised seat and the engineer had a collapsible seat and workstation. Both had good views.
There was gunner who manned the upper turret in mid fuselage, there was a gunner who manned the rear machine guns and two people operated the bomb bay doors.
Missions started general after dark and the crew huddle into their positions as it climbed up into the atmosphere. At 30,000 feet the crew had to have heated suits to avoid hypothermia. The crews flew for three or four hour before reaching their respective targets when all hell broke loose. Enemy fighters cut swathes through the air, flak brought down aircraft or sent hot glowing shrapnel arcing through the skin of the plane and killing or maiming anyone inside, or setting off fires in the munitions or fuel storage.
Half of all Lancaster crews were shot down. Crews that fulfilled 30 missions received a full military commission.
The actual bombing runs caused far more death and destruction below than they experienced at altitude.