Full size replica of WWII Lancaster bomber cockpit assembled by 85-year-old goes on sale for £150K

Flight of fancy! Full size replica of WWII Lancaster bomber cockpit that was painstakingly put together by 85-year-old history buff in his garage over six YEARS goes on sale for £150,000

  • Norman Groom, 85, from Bedfordshire spent thousands of hours over six years building the cockpit replica
  • He travelled the country to track down and acquire all of the original equipment from aero jumble sales
  • Mr Groom even had to build an extension for his garage to fit the plane parts inside during the process
  • It will go under the hammer at Flints Auctions, Newbury, Berkshire, tomorrow as it is on sale for £150K

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A full-size replica of a Lancaster bomber cockpit that was painstakingly made by a history buff has emerged for sale for £150,000.

Norman Groom, 85, spent thousands of hours over six years building the 6ft high by 15ft long front section of the World War Two aircraft in his garage.

Mr Groom, from Bedfordshire, travelled the country to track down and acquire all of the original equipment from aero jumble sales during the 1990s.

The replica will be going under the hammer at Flints Auctions, Newbury, Berkshire tomorrow. 

The inspiration for the build came when he bumped into a friend at an Aero Jumble sale in 1990 who was starting to rebuild an old bomber.

He was invited to come and look at the Lancaster his friend was assembling and thought to himself ‘if this man who isn’t even an engineer can do this, what could I do?’

Norman Groom, 85, spent thousands of hours over six years building the 6ft high by 15ft long front section of the World War Two aircraft in his garage

Norman Groom, 85, spent thousands of hours over six years building the 6ft high by 15ft long front section of the World War Two aircraft in his garage

The pilot's controls. Auctioneer Matt Nunn said: 'There are only two Lancaster bombers left that are capable of flight, this is the next best thing'

The pilot’s controls. Auctioneer Matt Nunn said: ‘There are only two Lancaster bombers left that are capable of flight, this is the next best thing’

The replica, which has emerged for sale for £150,000, will be going under the hammer at Flints Auctions, Newbury, Berkshire tomorrow

The replica, which has emerged for sale for £150,000, will be going under the hammer at Flints Auctions, Newbury, Berkshire tomorrow

The radio station with a R1155 receiver and transmitter to communicate with other planes

The radio station with a R1155 receiver and transmitter to communicate with other planes

Once he had decided he would make the plane from scratch, he gained out-of-hours access to the Imperial War Museum in London to take close up pictures and draw up plans for his project.

He needed to know precise measurements to fit the original equipment, which he had restored, inside it.

During the process he had to build an extension for his garage to fit the plane parts inside.

The retired electronics engineer said: ‘Not only did I want to buid an exact replica, but I was adamant this should be a showcase for the WW2 electronic equipment I had acquired and restored to working condition using simulations of my own design.

‘I was at a fair when an acquaintance of mine offered to show me the Lancaster bomber that he was repairing.

‘When I saw it I was impressed but I started thinking, if this man who isn’t even an engineer can do this, what could I do?

‘I ran my own business so I could take days off to pursue the pieces of WW2 equipment that I needed when they came up for sale.

‘I am confident that with the amount of research and detail that I put into the build, every rivet is in the right place.

‘Looking back, I don’t know how I did it when I was so busy with other things, but I am delighted that I achieved my aim.

‘I very much hope that a specialist military museum will be interested in displaying it for present and future generations.

‘When it’s displayed I hope they explain the remarkable history that surrounds these planes.

‘It’s important that people understand the incredible progress made in WWII electronics during those war years.’

The retired electronics engineer said: 'Not only did I want to buid an exact replica, but I was adamant this should be a showcase for the WW2 electronic equipment I had acquired and restored to working condition using simulations of my own design'

The retired electronics engineer said: ‘Not only did I want to buid an exact replica, but I was adamant this should be a showcase for the WW2 electronic equipment I had acquired and restored to working condition using simulations of my own design’

During the process Mr Groom had to build an extension for his garage to fit the plane parts inside

During the process Mr Groom had to build an extension for his garage to fit the plane parts inside

Mr Groom, from Bedfordshire, travelled the country to track down and acquire all of the original equipment from aero jumble sales during the 1990s

Mr Groom, from Bedfordshire, travelled the country to track down and acquire all of the original equipment from aero jumble sales during the 1990s

Norman Groom's nephew Antony Turiano sat in the pilot's seat. Mr Groom gained out-of-hours access to the Imperial War Museum in London to take close up pictures and draw up plans for his project

Norman Groom’s nephew Antony Turiano sat in the pilot’s seat. Mr Groom gained out-of-hours access to the Imperial War Museum in London to take close up pictures and draw up plans for his project

Over the following six years he crafted three basic sections of the plane until in 1996 they were transported on a two-wheeled trailer to the Pitstone Green Museum, Leighton Buzzard.

It is stored in the bowels of the museum and has proven to be a huge pull for visitors who have been able to start and run each piece of equipment using replica start and throttle controls.

Mr Groom hopes that his bomber will find a new home in a large British museum where the history surrounding it can be appreciated.

He picked up the crucial RPM meters for the control panel from a sale in Shoreham, West Sussex.

Another important piece of equipment he installed in the navigation section of the cockpit was the H2S Radar set which alerted pilots to other aircraft around them in the war.

The navigation table even has the wartime astronomical books and maps that would have been used by the crew at the time.

Every part of the plane from the rows of instruments on the control panel to the throttles and the green leather pilot’s seat were carefully placed for a faithful recreation.

At the rear of the cockpit there is a radio station with a R1155 receiver and transmitter to communicate with other planes.

Mr Groom is confident that ‘every rivet is in the right place’ and all of the original electrical equipment included in the replica is fully functional.

He said that the hardest part of the process was creating the ‘formers’ on the outside of the plane which hold the aluminium plates together.

For this part of the process he had to teach himself how to mould aluminium into just the right shape to hold it all together.

Auctioneer Matt Nunn said: ‘It is a truly unique and amazing object to come up for sale.

‘This is the closest that people can now come to owning one of these iconic planes.

‘Aside from the technical marvel they were at the time there is a huge historical significance to them that makes you think of the Battle of Britain.

‘Being able to start the engine and work the instruments inside the cockpit is an incredible experience.

‘We expect that museums are going to be interested in buying such a unique object to display it in pride of place.

‘There are only two Lancaster bombers left that are capable of flight, this is the next best thing.’

Another important piece of equipment he installed in the navigation section of the cockpit was the H2S Radar set which alerted pilots to other aircraft around them in the war, pictured is the navigation table

Another important piece of equipment he installed in the navigation section of the cockpit was the H2S Radar set which alerted pilots to other aircraft around them in the war, pictured is the navigation table

Every part of the plane from the rows of instruments on the control panel to the throttles and the green leather pilot's seat were carefully placed for a faithful recreation

Every part of the plane from the rows of instruments on the control panel to the throttles and the green leather pilot’s seat were carefully placed for a faithful recreation

Norman Groom's nephew Antony Turiano sat in the pilot's seat, looking at the controls. Mr Groom is confident that 'every rivet is in the right place' and all of the original electrical equipment included in the replica is fully functional

Norman Groom’s nephew Antony Turiano sat in the pilot’s seat, looking at the controls. Mr Groom is confident that ‘every rivet is in the right place’ and all of the original electrical equipment included in the replica is fully functional

A map of Cornwall under red light. Mr Groom hopes that his bomber will find a new home in a large British museum where the history surrounding it can be appreciated

A map of Cornwall under red light. Mr Groom hopes that his bomber will find a new home in a large British museum where the history surrounding it can be appreciated

The H2S radar in the dark which alerted pilots to other aircraft around them in the war

The H2S radar in the dark which alerted pilots to other aircraft around them in the war

The navigation table even has the wartime astronomical books and maps that would have been used by the crew at the time

The navigation table even has the wartime astronomical books and maps that would have been used by the crew at the time

THE LANCASTER BOMBER: THE PLANE WHICH DROPPED THOUSANDS OF TONNES OF BOMBS ON GERMANY

By the end of the war, 7,377 Lancaster Bombers would have carried out more than 150,000 missions —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943 — and dropped more than 600,000 tons of bombs on the enemy, a feat unequalled by any other plane.

The men who flew them, in the RAF’s Bomber Command, had the most perilous posting of the entire war – 3,249 aircraft and their crews would be lost in action.

The first prototypes of the Lancaster were built in 1941. They impressed test pilots immediately. 

One reported that the plane ‘took off like a startled stallion’.

Some 7,377 Lancasters had carried out more than 150,000 missions by the end of the Second World War —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943. Pictured: A Lancaster in flight over Britain in 1942, during the War

By the end of the war, 7,377 Lancaster Bombers would have carried out more than 150,000 missions —including the supremely audacious Dambuster Raids of 1943 — and dropped more than 600,000 tons of bombs on the enemy, a feat unequalled by any other plane

By 1942, the plane was ready for active service. Lancasters were used that year in raid on Augsburg in 1942.

From 1942 onwards, the planes played a leading role in every major raid on German cities. 

Of the 791 planes which dropped bombs on Hamburg on the night of July 24/25 in 1943, 247 of them were Lancasters. 

Lancasters were also modified to be able to carry bouncing bombs so they could be used in the famous Dambusters raids. 

However, the human cost of the raids which the Lancasters were involved in was enormous. 

Tens of thousands of German civilians were killed and cities were devastated. 

As for the pilots, in 1943, only one airman in six could expect to survive his first tour of 30 sorties.   

The plane in numbers 

LENGTH: 69ft 6in

WINGSPAN: 102ft

POWER: 1,640 hp each

ENGINE: 4 x Packard Merlin 224

MAXIMUM SPEED: 275mph

CRUISING SPEED: 210mph

SERVICE CEILING: 25,700ft

RANGE: 2,530 miles

The Bomber Command crew in numbers 

19 Victoria Crosses won by men of Bomber Command, including Guy Gibson, who led the Dam Busters raid

125,000 Bomber Command air crew serving during WWII

55,573 died in action, a death rate of 44 per cent

4 per cent average chance of being shot down per mission – but crews had to complete at least 30. 

Chances of surviving were lower than an infantry officer in First World War trenches

9,838 bomber crew became prisoners of war

1.3m tons of bombs dropped by the Allies on Germany

635,000 is the estimate of German civilians killed

72 per cent of Bomber Command dead were British. The rest were from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Source

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