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With RAF Bomber Command’s focus being centred on the strategic bombing campaign against German industry, the RAF desperately required a force of heavy bombers to increase the capability provided by their medium bomber fleet. A twin engine Avro Manchester bomber was converted to be powered by four engines and first flown in January 1941. This and subsequent prototypes were deemed to be so successful that the first production variant of the new bomber, now named the Lancaster, was flown in October 1941. Powered by four Rolls Royce Merlin XX engines rated at 1280 hp, (later upgraded to Merlin 22 or 24s) the Lancaster B.I was capable of reaching speeds of up to 275 mph. With a standard fuel load it could carry 10,000 lbs of bombs over 1000 miles. The maximum ordinance capacity of the Lancaster was one of the highest of any heavy bomber in World War II: 14,000 lb (6,356 kg). Besides standard bombs, the aircraft could carry an 8,000 lb (3,632 kg) “blockbuster” or two 4,000 lb (1,816 kg) high-explosive “cookie” bombs. Special modifications of the bomber could carry even larger bombs, such as the 22,000 lb ‘Grand Slam’ bomb. For defence, the Lancaster had eight 0.303 inch Colt-Browning Mk.II machine guns located in three turrets: two guns were located in the nose, two in the dorsal turret, and four in the tail turret. This defensive armament was considerably lighter than that of the Lancaster’s US counterparts; it relied on darkness for protection rather than firepower. However, even though on paper the Lancaster was an impressive strategic asset, it still had its weaknesses: whereas the Halifax and Stirling could both claim a crew survival rate of 25% in the event of destruction, the Lancaster could only claim a survival rate of 15% for its crews. 58% of all RAF Lancasters were destroyed in combat; a higher loss percentage than any other British aircraft during the entire war. The Lancaster was first used operationally in March 1942 by No. 44 Squadron. It soon became the backbone of RAF Bomber Command’s offensive against the heart of Germany, but was also used against targets all across occupied Europe. The majority of Lancaster operations took place at night due to RAF Bomber Command’s policy of night bombing whilst the bombers of the United States Army Air Force tackled targets by day. The Lancaster became legendary on the night of May 17th 1943 when bombers of No 617 Squadron breached the Mohne and Eder dams in Germany with Barnes Wallis’ genius ‘bouncing bomb’. Lancasters of Nos 9 and 617 Squadrons also sank the German battleship ‘Tirpitz’ with 12,000 lb ‘Tallboy’ bombs, also designed by Wallis. Over 3400 Lancaster B.Is were manufactured between November 1941 and March 1946, making it the most numerous of the Avro Lancaster variants. In addition to RAF operations, the Lancaster was also used by the RAAF and RCAF.