This is the 21st volume in Osprey’s “Air Vanguard” series. A quick look at Osprey’s website shows this is scheduled for an August, 2015 publication date.
The “Air Vanguard” series seems geared to providing an overall view of the subject aircraft’s development, technical specifications, and operational history. All other titles in this series have been available in various “eReader” formats (at a slightly lower price than the print version), so I imagine upon release that this will be the case for this volume. A glance at the publishing information in the book shows different ISBN numbers for the PDF/EPub editions, seeming to confirm this fact.
The book is broken down into 4 basic sections: Design and Development, Technical Specifications, Mark by Mark, and Operational History. A brief ‘Conclusion’ section wraps things up, and a decent bibliography for further reading is included.
Design and Development covers precisely that – the developmental history of the Lancaster design. This section actually starts, and spends some time on, the development and history of the Avro Manchester. The Lancaster was derived from this aircraft, and it was both refreshing and interesting to see the Manchester covered in such depth. 12 of the 18 pages in this section discuss the Manchester’s development and deployment. After segueing to the Lancaster, there are 3 pages describing the technical details of the subject bomber.
Mark by Mark is a 12-page section describing not only each specific Mark of the Lancaster, but also various modifications (such as the “Provisioning”, ie Dambusters, Lancasters). There are tables showing the main specs of each of the Marks, ie armament, power-plant, performance, etc. These tables also show the range of serial numbers assigned to each Mark. This is extremely helpful, as the author points out that quite often the only way to identify whether a Lancaster is a Mark I or III (the highest production runs) is by serial. Also included in this section is a page of color scrap-views detailing various aspects of the airframe. This section is wrapped up with 2 pages describing the specialist equipment fitted into Lancasters – various radar, navigational aids, and other electronic warfare fittings. As the majority of bombing operations took place at night, it is indeed important that this topic is covered.
The Operational History section has 16 pages covering, chronologically, the deployment and combat history of the Lancaster WW2. Coverage of the “Dambusters” operation, as well as “Tallboy” bomb missions is present. The author is good to point out that there are many, many other more detailed accounts of combat operations available (and some are listed in the bibliography), but this is a decent overview. Included in this section are a few dramatic artist renderings of combat missions (in addition to photos).
Regarding illustrations, in addition to black and white photos throughout the text, there are 2 pages of nice color profiles, covering a total of 8 different aircraft (with accompanying descriptions). Another page has the color scrap-views mentioned earlier. There is also one color 3-view of a Mark II Lancaster (fitted with radial engines), 2 color ‘action’ drawings, and one very nice color cutaway view on the fold-out rear cover.
I think this book provides a solid reference. It is a good one-stop guide to the Lancaster. Of particular use to the modeler (well, at least to me) are the serial number tables and the armament scrap views. If you are modeler looking for loads of detail photos and interesting color schemes, you may be a bit disappointed. But, there is certainly enough information in here to make this a worthwhile addition to your reference library.
Thanks to Osprey publishing for the review copy, and to IPMS for allowing me to review it!