Avro 694 Lincoln

Lincoln

RF342/G-APRJ/G-29-1/G-36-3

With the H.A.M from May 1972 to May 1983*

Many aviation purists today would likely resign themselves to the fact that RF342 was a rather unusual machine, being a composite of sorts. While her fuselage and wings had been built on the Avro Lincoln production line, her forward section had been derived from Lancaster TW111 which had previously been modified to test the Armstrong Siddeley Python turboprop engine. Thus, it could be argued that HAM’s Lincoln had seemingly survived the scrap man’s axe by virtue of becoming a test bed for various projects including those of Napier, who later used her to study the effects of icing by securing various aerofoil cross sections and spraying equipment to the spine of this aircraft.

Having been purchased from the RAF’s long term storage facility (Ministry of Supply) at the end of 1958, she remained with Napier for almost 4 years before being Lincoln 1967passed on to the research centre at Cranfield that continued using her for icing trials. She would then spend a total of 5 years here before being handed over to the Empire Test Pilot School where she would remain for several months more until finally being purchased by the British Historical Aircraft Museum at Southend (for the nominal sum of £1500). She arrived at Southend on 9th May 1967 and in doing so, became part of the ever expanding collection that was at this time on display on the eastern perimeter of the airfield.

In 1968, she was painted up in her former RAF markings and roundels and went on display with the B.H.A.M, quickly becoming one of the stars of the show at Southend Airport’s 1968 Airshow where she was displayed alongside a number of the museum’s other aircraft. With the later reformation of this organisation as the H.A.M in 1971, she was eventually moved over to the new, purpose built complex on Aviation Way where she would receive yet another paint job, the decision having already been taken to restore the ‘Napier Icing Research’ livery. It was here that she would sit for the next 12 years, becoming one of the museums premier attractions no doubt thanks to her similarity to the much loved Lancaster. However, by 1982 her paintwork had faded and she was starting to look rather tatty to say the least.

With the closure of the H.A.M, she was then sold on to Doug Arnold during the auction, after which she was subsequently moved on to Blackbushe, the sole purpose of her acquisition being to use her as a spares ship for a Avro Lincoln 1small number of other Lancaster restorations that Doug was working on at the time. However, a flurry of movements would see her being unceremoniously shunted from pillar to post over the next 8 years. She would find herself at Aces High in North Weald and with Charles Church in Manchester before making her way back to Doug Arnold by the beginning of 1991. Eventually, she was moved to North Weald for a second time where she sat in several pieces, slowly rotting away until finally being snapped up by the Imperial Aviation Group in 1998.

It was from this point onwards that her ultimate fate would seem to have been sealed and while she would thankfully end up being restored, her forward section and main fuselage seemed destined to spend the future separated from one another, the cockpit and nose leaving to join Paul Allen’s collection in the U.S, while the remainder of the aircraft was dispatched to Australia where it is now under the care of Mark Pilkington’s Australian National Aviation Museum.

 

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