The latest addition to Valiant Wings' Airframe & Miniature series covers the Avro Manchester and Lancaster in detail. Rowan turns the pages.

Author Richard Franks has produced a comprehensive guide for anyone modelling the aircraft, as well as appealing to general aviation enthusiasts. The 272-page softbound volume is packed with historical and modelling reference material, with illustrations by Richard Caruana and Juraj Jankovic, plus a selction of model builds by Steve Evans.

The book focuses on the development and wartime service of the Manchester and Lancaster, with a future volume covering the latter's post war career and civil developments.


Things kick off with a 36-page Preface - not actually listed on the Contents page - which provides an excellent concise overview of the development and wartime service of the Manchester and Lancaster, naturally also outlining the problems caused by the original decision to power the new bomber with a pair of Rolls Royce Vultures. The chapter is packed with well-chosen photos of the mock-ups and prototypes, as well operational aircraft and their crews.

Also included are a useful list of units and their fuselage codes, details of special operations ranging from the Dambusters to air-dropping food supplies for the population of The Netherlands and, finally, specifications for the various Manchester and Lancaster variants.


The Evolution section covers each prototype, version and sub-version in turn, with a brief description accompanied by side profiles and photos. Spanning 51 pages, this adds a up to a very handy read-reference for any particular variant when planning a model build. There's plenty of inspiration among the pages for anyone prepared to do some surgery to standard kits, whether it's creating a Manchester, or Lancaster oddballs such as the experimental saddle-tank modification, or fitting an under-slung airborne lifeboat.

Camouflage & Markings

There aren't too many surprises in the Camouflage & Markings chapter, but the 25 pages give precise details of colours and demarcation lines, and there's an excellent selection of period photos, including some in colour. Backing it all up is a selection of over 60 high quality colour profiles by Richard Caruana showing the Manchester and Lancaster during their development and wartime careers.

Manchester & Lancaster Kits

Next there follows a chapter of reviews of a selection of kits, concentrating on those that are available currently, but finding space for some vintage gems.

Building A Selections

Fittingly, the next chapter features a nice series of fine builds by Steve Evans in 1:72 and 1:48 spanning 23 pages:

Blackbird Models 1:72 Manchester Conversion (based on the new-tool Airfix Lancaster)

Hasegawa 1:72 Lancaster B Mk.I "Grand Slam"

HK Models 1:48 Lancaster B Mk.I

Tamiya 1:48 Lancaster B Mk.I/III

Building A Collection

Building A Collection revisits much of the content of the earlier Evolution, but in a different style aimed directly at modellers, with each version illustrated with an annotated isometric drawing highlighting the airframe and equipment changes involved. It always seems odd to me that the content is split this way between two chapters, because modellers will inevitably want to consult the photos and side profiles too, so it would be much neater to have the material combined rather than having to flick back and forth.

In Detail

For many people the In Detail chapter will probably be the main reason for buying the book, and it certainly delivers the goods with its extended 67-page "walkaround" coverage made up of vintage photos and modern shots of preserved airframes, combined with technical illustrations from original manuals. For me, this is the ideal mix, as it ensures accuracy through using vintage material, while also providing the clear colour photos of restored exhibits.

The depth of coverage is phenomenal, with the naterial broken down into the following main sections, many of which are further sub-divided:


Engines, Cowlings & Propellers

Oil, Fuel & Heating Systems





Electrical Equipment



Rounding the book off are a series of useful Appendices listing the many kits, accessories and decals which have been released over the years, along with a very comprehensive bibliography for further reading.

Finally, tucked inside the back cover is a fold-out set of 1:72 plans of a selection of Manchester and Lancaster variants, complete with rivet patterns. It would be a shame to damage the book by removing them, but doing so will make the plans much easier to use at the workbench - plus, of course, you could scan and re-scale them to match whatever model you're building.


This is an excellent addition the the Airframe & Miniature range. It will appeal to aircraft enthusiasts and modellers alike, and I'd go so far as to say it's probably the definitive modelling guide, easily eclipsing the classic 1970s PSL book in the depth of coverage that it offers.

Airframe & Miniature #20 - The Avro Lancaster Part One (ISBN 9781912932177) is available now from Valiant Wings - Price: 28.95

Many thanks to Valiant Wings for the review sample.

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