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The most gothick thing EVAR

The winged skull is just a taster. Click for the whole tomb.

It’s the grave of John Cheney, who died on the 20th of September, 1601. And presumably his wife and daughter, who are mentioned. I think the slate inscription stone must have shattered as they pulled it out to stuff more people in the ‘ole. Brrr!

This is on the wall left of the altar in a little village church in Sussex. More on that later.

We started Saturday at an airfield, because we heard a rumor the two Lancasters were going to fly over on their way to an airshow.

Of the over seven thousand Lancaser bombers built in WWII, these two are the last in the air, and they’ve been kept airworthy by cannibalizing some of the others. One of them usually lives in Canada, so…last chance.

We waited and waited and it didn’t happen. So we headed to this church, miles away, and suddenly the planes flew across our path, low and spooky. No time to stop and take pictures. Wish we’d gotten closer. Glad we didn’t miss it.


Comment from Stark Dickflüssig
Time: August 19, 2014, 12:49 am

Yeah, those old birds weren’t really designed to last beyond the handful of missions they would have been on before they got shot down. It’s always great to see one in the air, but they probably shouldn’t be.

Comment from Deborah
Time: August 19, 2014, 1:15 am

Lancasters! How wonderful! I love those old warbirds. I’ve flown in a B-25, and missed my chance to fly in a B-24 by about 10 minutes. I’m pretty sure I’ll never get the chance at a Lancaster. I read the most interesting “earthquake bomb” story in a collection of Navajo war stories (that missed being censored by the government because it was Navajo oral history and not published in the ordinary way)—the Lancasters and B-17s were carrying the earthquake bombs … until certain people in the German high command asked the Allied Nations to stop (and we did!).

Comment from Some Vegetable
Time: August 19, 2014, 1:20 am

The Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton Virginia has (among other interesting things) the nose section of a B-24 Liberator on display, and you are allowed to walk inside it. It is frightening how thin the aluminum shell is; seemingly as thin as they could make it. It is literally only there to keep the air out. All I could think of was flying at 10,000 feet on a bombing run with nothing but tacked-together Coke cans to protect me from the flack.


Your co-posting of WWII bombers (Lancaster’s in this case) and tombstones is perhaps a more appropriate pairing than originally intended.

Flying in a British bomber during World War Two was one of the most dangerous jobs imaginable. Some 55,000 aircrew died in raids over Europe between 1939 and 1945, the highest loss rate of any major branch of the British armed forces.


Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: August 19, 2014, 1:23 am

Is this them, Weas’?


Drew has a video at the link.

Comment from Subotai Bahadur
Time: August 19, 2014, 2:23 am

I envy you seeing them. One of your Brit papers sponsored a contest for a ride on the Canadian Lancaster to get over there, and I wished I could enter.

I have had cockpit checks [on the ground] in the left seat of a B-17, a B-24 and a B-29 [fast talking and bribery] and I have flown in the gun turret aboard a TBM Avenger [unexpected payment for services rendered]. I have had chances, but could not afford, to fly in a B-17 and a B-24. But I have never even seen a Brit bomber, despite having built models of them as a kid.

Subotai Bahadur

Comment from Oceania
Time: August 19, 2014, 2:27 am

You mean to say you have never seen a real bomber?

Comment from Davem123
Time: August 19, 2014, 2:48 am

I had the chance to explore an airworthy B-17 at a local airport. I was struck by the cramped quarters. What amazing men they were to climb aboard such crates, sucking oxygen in sub-zero temps thousands of feet in the air, especially before the P-51 arrived to give them fighter cover all the way to the target.

Comment from SCOTTtheBADGER
Time: August 19, 2014, 7:25 am

Here is some amazing Lanc art. http://www.vintagewings.ca/VintageNews/Stories/tabid/116/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/483/language/en-CA/A-Terrifying-Beauty-the-Art-of-Piotr-Forkasiewicz.aspx Be prepared to be awestruck.

Comment from Doubting Rich
Time: August 19, 2014, 10:35 am

That looks like the logo for my wife’s company


Comment from S. Weasel
Time: August 19, 2014, 12:03 pm

That’s the ones, McGoo. We aren’t going to the Eastbourne show. Uncle B has gone in the past, but the only airshow I’ve gone to was Quonset in Rhode Island (and very spectacular that one is, too).

To answer Drew’s question (I’m not registered to post at his place), I’m not sure what field the flight started from, but there are lots of little airfields around they could stop off. I know they were at Headcorn in Ashford on Sunday.

Comment from QuasiModo
Time: August 19, 2014, 1:50 pm

@SCOTTtheBADGER …awesome artwork!

Comment from Deborah
Time: August 19, 2014, 2:19 pm

re: Vintage Wings. I don’t know enough superlatives to express my awe and admiration.

Comment from David Gillies
Time: August 19, 2014, 3:19 pm

The craziest thing about Bomber Command is that there is a strong case to be made that the night bombing campaign was strategically ill-founded. Lancasters (and Lincolns, Stirlings etc.) represented the peak technological achievement of the British armed forces. They were stuffed to the gills with complex mechanical and electronic gizmos and used tons of precious aluminium, copper and rubber. They were crewed disproportionately by technically-adept, well-educated men and one in 25 of them were thrown away, along with those crews, every time they went out. When the campaign started, Operational Research found that the mean bombing error was five miles. By the end of the war, accuracy had improved to the point that the heavy bombers could be used as tactical aircraft but I’m now of the opinion that the whole effort from 1940-1944 was basically a waste. Churchill should have sacked Harris and listened to Portal and Leigh-Mallory. The bravery of the crews is unfathomable. At a 4% loss rate, your likelihood of survival drops to 50% after 17 missions. There were 30 missions in a tour.

Comment from mojo
Time: August 19, 2014, 3:58 pm

Hindsight is 20/20

Comment from Formerly known as Skeptic
Time: August 19, 2014, 7:05 pm

Quonset is a good show. Former Air Nat. Guard at Quonset and worked at the show a few years.

Comment from Sic Transit Gloria Britanniae
Time: August 19, 2014, 8:30 pm

That’s the problem with England these days: impressionable young weasels of colonial provenience get excited about the new-fangled and unproven petroleum guzzling contraptions.
Why, no true Englishman would approve of anything newer than an esquadronne of Sopwith Camels with undercarriage mounted .577-450 Martini-Henry with a Birmingham cast bullet greased with oxbone tallow!
Ha! Take that, heathen huns!
Modernity ruined this fine realm, I do declare!
Who knows these days how to weave bulrush sandals and knap the flint and make reindeer sinew hare traps!
Pox upon your Lancs! They probably had Polish pilots! and tyres made of congealed gutta percha sap!

Comment from Veeshir
Time: August 19, 2014, 10:59 pm

Funny thing?
Dick Cheney has the same winged skull over the door to his den.

Comment from Stephen Falken
Time: August 20, 2014, 7:40 pm

The coolest sound I ever heard was when a P-51 Mustang did a fly over at an air show. The Lancaster also uses Rolls-Royce Merlin engines similar to the P-51 but it has four of them.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 28, 2014, 4:15 pm

I’ve never flown in a warbird, but I toured a B-17 with my father, who was a bombardier in the Mighty Eighth.

David Gillies @ August 19, 2014, 3:19 pm:
I’m now of the opinion that the whole effort from 1940-1944 was basically a waste.

Possibly. But it is certain that the campaign put enormous strain on the German war effort. 1/3 of all German ammo was fired up. There were 500,000 German troops manning AA guns, and those guns included thousands of the 88mm cannon that were so deadly as anti-tank guns.

That’s in addition to the enormous damage to German industry and transportation.

And morale. In 1940-1942, strategic bombing was the only way Britain could strike back at Germany. Unfortunately, that led to the “bomber barons” becoming dominant in strategy.

Churchill should have sacked Harris and listened to Portal and Leigh-Mallory.

Portal was a bomber advocate, who picked Harris. I agree that Harris’ fanatical insistence on strategic bombing above all else was harmful. In particular, the denial of VLR aircraft such as B-24s to Coastal Command for ASW patrols.

The bravery of the crews is unfathomable. At a 4% loss rate, your likelihood of survival drops to 50% after 17 missions. There were 30 missions in a tour.

25 missions in the USAF. My father volunteered for extra missions to get a promotion, and flew 30 altogether. He told me that afterwards, the Air Force didn’t know what to do with men like him – they weren’t supposed to be alive.

Guy Gibson VC flew over 170 missions. Of course, he didn’t survive.

Comment from Rich Rostrom
Time: August 28, 2014, 4:17 pm

Deborah @ August 19, 2014, 1:15 am:
… in a collection of Navajo war stories …—the Lancasters and B-17s were carrying the earthquake bombs … until certain people in the German high command asked the Allied Nations to stop (and we did!).

This is almost certainly some kind of urban legend. B-17s couldn’t carry any of the “earthquake” bombs; their maximum load was too small, as was the bomb bay. And the “earthquake” bombs were used right up to the end of the war. The largest “earthquake” bomb, the 22,000-lb Grand Slam, was first used on 14 March 1945.

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