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Avro Manchester

United Kingdom (1940)
Picture of Avro Manchester Twin-Engine Heavy Bomber Aircraft
Picture of Avro Manchester Twin-Engine Heavy Bomber Aircraft

The development of the Avro Manchester led directly to the development of the outstanding Avro Lancaster.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Avro Manchester Twin-Engine Heavy Bomber Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 2/21/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

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.
The first Manchester prototype, model L7246, took to the skies for the first time on July 25th, 1939. This aircraft was followed by a second prototype going airborne on May 26th, 1940. As mentioned above, the early Manchester sported a central tail fin, giving the aircraft a unique appearance in sporting three such surfaces. The Manchester entered production in this form as the Manchester Mk I model series but was delivered in only 20 such examples. Mk I aircraft joined No. 207 Squadron in November of 1940. Its first mission came about on February 24th, 1941. Manchester Mk IA's soon followed and were delivered in 200 total examples. These particular Manchesters differed in that they had their central tail fins removed in favor of enlarging the remaining two tail fins. In this form, the Manchester would be most oft-remembered.

At the height of its operational use, the Manchester formed at least eight bomber squadrons and was utilized by RAF Coastal Command as well. The last Manchester mission was recorded on June 25th, 1942. Production ended almost as soon as it had begun, wrapping up in November of 1941.

The Manchester II appeared as a proposed and improved model version of the Manchester series. These Manchester would have sported twin Bristol Centaurus or Napier Sabre engines to make up for the deficiencies inherent in the selected Rolls-Royce Vulture brand engines used in production Manchesters. Unfortunately for the Manchester and Avro, this model series was never produced.

A single Manchester Mk I was pulled aside to undergo a conversion to a new Manchester III standard. This new model design (BT308) featured a greater wingspan incorporating the power of four engines but still retaining the three vertical tail surfaces of the original Manchester. First flight of the recently-dubbed "Lancaster" aircraft was achieved on January 9th, 1941. A follow-up model, the DG595, was debuted shortly thereafter and featured the enlarged twin vertical tail fins of the Manchester IA. This "Manchester III" would essentially become the prototype model of the war winning Avro Lancaster series of multi-engine heavy bombers.

Canada became the only other Manchester operator during its short-lived service life. In all, the Manchester was a failed project in itself but the evolution of the system produced the fabulous Lancaster bomber series which formed the backbone of RAF bomber groups for the duration of the war. Lancasters went on to see production totals of over 7,300 examples with the last operational use of the type ending in 1963 under Canadian control. To that end, at the very least, the Manchester design was vindicated.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

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Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 300mph
Lo: 150mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (250mph).

    Graph average of 225 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Avro Manchester Mk I/IA's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
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Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
209
209


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


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National Origin: United Kingdom
Service Year: 1940
Classification Type: Twin-Engine Heavy Bomber Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Avro / Metropolitan-Vickers - UK
Production Units: 209
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Canada; United Kingdom
Measurements and Weights icon
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Avro Manchester Mk I/IA model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
7


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
70.01 ft


Meters
21.34 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
90.09 ft


Meters
27.46 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
19.49 ft


Meters
5.94 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
31,200 lb


Kilograms
14,152 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
50,001 lb


Kilograms
22,680 kg

Engine icon
Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
2 x Rolls-Royce Vulture I 24-cylinder X-type engines developing 1,500 horsepower each.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
250 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
402 kph


Knots
217 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
1,199 mi


Kilometers
1,930 km


Nautical Miles
1,042 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
19,199 ft


Meters
5,852 m


Miles
3.64 mi

Supported Weapon Systems:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Armament - Hardpoints (0):

2 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in nose turret
2 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in dorsal turret
4 x 7.7mm Browning machine guns in tail turret

Up to 10,350lbs of bombs or 2 x torpedoes held internally.
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Manchester L7246 - Prototype Model Designation; three-fin tail; two engines.
• Manchester I - Initial Production Model; 20 examples produced.
• Manchester IA - Definitive Manchester; enlarged tail surfaces sans central tail fin.
• Manchester II - Proposed variant fitted with Bristol Centaurus OR Napier Sabre series engines; never produced.
• Manchester III BT308 - Fitted with 4 x Merlin engines; three-fin tail; increased wingspan; becoming prototype of Avro Lancaster bomber.