Avro Manchester Heavy Bomber Aircraft
The development of the Avro Manchester led directly to the development of the outstanding Avro Lancaster.
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The Avro Manchester was a semi-successful attempt by the Avro firm to fulfill Air Ministry Specification P.13/36. The specification called for a twin engine heavy bomber that could sport a multi-purpose payload of bombs or torpedoes. Unlike the Handley Page Halifax four engine offering - a bomber designed to the same Air Ministry Specification - the Manchester would see a shortened production run, short term service life and operational service rife with engine troubles. In the end, only 209 Manchesters would ever be completed, with production split between Avro (177) and Metropolitan-Vickers (32).
Outwardly, the Manchester was similar to other multi-engine Avro offerings during the Second World War (Lincoln, Shackleton, Lancaster). The twin engines were underslung on mid-mounted monoplane wings with dihedral outboard of the engines and main wheel undercarriage. The fuselage was of a mostly straight yet slender design from nose to tail. The flight deck maintained a good all-around vantage point and featured extensive framing. The empennage was dominated by the identifiable twin vertical fin arrangement common to other Avro designs. The initial production Manchester, however, sported a third vertical tail fin running between the base two and along the rear portion of the upper fuselage. The rear fuselage extended out beyond this assembly, which held the rear gunner's position.
Crew accommodations amounted to seven personnel. The aircraft was defended by 8 x 7.7mm (.303 caliber) Browning machine guns in various strategic emplacements. Two were fitted to the nose turret while the tail turret mounted no fewer than four of these weapons. The remaining two were positioned in a dorsal turret mounted to the rearward portion of the fuselage. From an offensive standpoint, the Manchester could field up to 10,350lbs of internally-held bombs or torpedoes (2).
Production model specs were quite pedestrian with a top reported speed of 250 miles per hour, a range of 1,200 miles and a service ceiling of just 19,500 feet.
Power for the Manchester was derived from the twin Rolls-Royce Vulture I 24-cylicnder X-type engines of 1,500 horsepower each (initially rated as high as 1,760 horsepower each). This selection of powerplant would eventually become the Manchesters undoing as the engines proved to have a nasty tendency to catch fire when in-flight. Though the same issue greeted the Handley Page Halifax design, forcing the Halifax to become a four-engine bomber utilizing the Rolls-Royce Merlin X series of engines, Avro continued the Manchester design with the Vulture series. By the series operation run, no fewer than 30 Manchesters were lost to engine failures effectively forcing the bomber out of service.