Bomber on tour
Lancaster bomber on display until
May 12 at Devonshire Mall
Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star
Published: Sunday, April 29, 2007
bomber has landed at Devonshire Mall. The WWII
bomber was moved from storage at Jackson Park to
the mall Sunday, exactly 62 years to the day since
Operation Manna began. Photograph by: Nick Brancaccio,
The Windsor Star
He flew her in low, under tree tops and church spires, uncomfortably
close to enemy fire.
During the Second World War, Windsor pilot Bob Upcott and
his crew dropped food to starving Dutch civilians in a Lancaster
bomber, just like the one now in Devonshire Mall's parking
"Because it wasn't an officially declared truce, they
still considered it a combat operation," said project
manager Ed Curnutte. "It was considered a very hazardous
Windsor's 61-year-old Lancaster was hauled to the mall parking
lot near Sears Sunday, where it will sit until May 12 as
a tourist attraction.
Its' top speed was 278 miles per hour, but it took two hours
to get from Jackson Park to the mall, negotiating some tight
turns and clearing many obstacles by mere inches.
For a voluntary donation people can walk through the plane
everyday until May 12, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Souvenirs are
also for sale. All proceeds will go toward the aircraft's
When it leaves the mall, the plane will go to the airport
for a massive restoration project, with an aim to get it
into taxiing condition.
For now, the great hulk of a plane, currently without wings,
sits in the parking lot with its twin .50 calibre gun turret
poking through the top.
Windsor's Lancaster, built at the end of the war, didn't
actually fly in Operation Manna making food drops in the
But it's an historical artifact in its own right, said Curnutte.
It was used to photomap Canada's vast arctic.
If you used a geography textbook during the 1960s, you can
probably thank the Lancaster for the photos.
"It was the first aircraft that had done this," said
Curnutte. "It was an aircraft built in Canada out of
Canadian raw materials, assembled in Canada, flew by Canadians
taking pictures in Canada. I don't know how much more Canadian
you can get than that."
And our Lancaster is representative of what others did in
the war, he said.
The Nazi war machine had cut off all food supplies to the
Dutch people during the winter of 1944 and 1945. Starvation
took 1,000 people a day. They ate tulip bulbs and burned
furniture to keep warm.
"They were literally starving to death," said
Curnutte. "Things were bleak."
That's where a crew of Canadian boys came in, including
Upcott, and their Lancaster, dubbed the Bad Penny.
The Allies negotiated a tentative truce that allowed food
supplies to be dropped in, but it was nothing official. That
meant that even though they were on a mercy mission, the
German guns were still a threat.
"So they would fly very low to drop the food on target,
sometimes even flying below tree top level and below church
steeple level," said Curnutte.
The first mission began 62 years ago on Sunday. The plane
in Windsor now bears the Bad Penny insignia.
For Rick Carnahan, 54, touring the airplane is a chance
to walk down memory lane, and wipe out a past regret. When
he was 10, his dad worked on this very plane as a mechanic,
and Carnahan had his picture taken with it.
"I remember when I was a kid, he tried to get me to
go up through the hatch, and I was too scared," said
Carnahan. "I always regretted it."
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