Bomber Command Museum of Canada, Nanton, Alberta

Discussion in 'Warbird Displays' started by Crimea_River, Sep 11, 2013.

  1. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Some of you may have heard me refer to this museum in several of my posts and I've indeed touched on the venue directly or indirectly in several threads. It's a museum that, in my view, deserves a little more mention in these hallowed halls so I thought it would be appropriate feature it in its own dedicated thread for those of you who are interested.

    The museum's website is here Bomber Command Museum of Canada and, because I'm a lazy SOB, I'll borrow a few paragraphs from the introduction contained on the site to give a brief history of how the museum came into being.

    The Nanton Lancaster Society was formed following the Town of Nanton's suggestion in the fall of 1985 that perhaps a group could be formed to, "take care of the Bomber" which had been on outside display for twenty-five years. At this time virtually no one had been in the aircraft since it had arrived and very little was known, in Nanton, about the Lancaster or the history associated with it.

    A core group was formed and an inaugural meeting was held in March, 1986. Various committees were formed and by May some Lancaster related artifacts were on display and Lancaster T-shirts and caps were for sale in the Tourist Information Booth next to the aircraft. The founding members had also made the decision that the best way to, "take care of the Bomber" was to have it become the centrepiece of an air museum.

    Society members soon took on the challenge of building the Nanton Lancaster Society Air Museum, a sizeable undertaking for a community of 1700 people. Its goals were to be the honouring of those associated with Bomber Command during World War II and the commemoration of the activities of the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan in Alberta.

    Guided tours of the Lancaster during the months of July and August began in 1988 which also saw the opening of a Society Restoration Shop and a Society float in the Calgary Stampede Parade. During these early years, Society members made numerous "field trips" to locations in southern Alberta where Canadian Lancasters had been dispersed after the war. In the mid-fifties a company known as Found Brothers determined that money could be made by purchasing Lancasters from the farmers who had acquired them in the late 1940's, melting down the aluminum, and selling other components back to the RCAF which now required spares for their Lancaster reconnaissance aircraft. Numerous and varied parts which included tires, undercarriage struts, turrets parts, and even crew door ladders which were not wanted by Found Brothers were left behind on the farms. Many truckloads of Lancaster parts and display material were acquired by the Society from the cooperative farmers. As well, the Society began to collect the remains of twin-engined Ansons as the historical significance of the BCATP began to be appreciated.

    A building was constructed in 1991 and expanded in 1998, 2002, and 2007 to house a growing collection of aircraft and related displays. The facility now includes 26,000 square feet of hangar area and 3000 square feet used for the display of smaller artifacts, aviation art, and related interpretive information. A theatre, library/meeting room, two large restoration shops, parts storage area, and office complete the museum. Construction was financed primarily through private and corporate donations with significant assistance from the Government of Alberta through Lottery Funding.

    As the museum developed during the 1990's, the aircraft and displays began to focus more and more on Bomber Command with less emphasis on the Lancaster aircraft. With the Dedication of Canada's Bomber Command Memorial in 2005, the museum had clearly established itself as the museum in Canada that was taking the lead in honouring the Canadians who served with Bomber Command. For these reasons, in 2010 the Nanton Lancaster Society made the decision to change the name of the museum to the Bomber Command Museum of Canada.

    The acquisition of aircraft and other artifacts, primarily through private donations, has provided the Society with an impressive collection of displays. Bomber Command aircraft are represented by the Lancaster and a Bolingbroke which is being restored as a Blenheim IV bomber. BCATP aircraft such as the Fleet Fawn, Tiger Moth, Lysander, Cornell, Anson, Yale, Harvard, and Expeditor provide our visitors with an excellent understanding of the training effort. On outside display, a T-33 and CF-100 serve as "Gate Guardians." The Society attempts to connect people to the artifacts as much as possible. Our Lancaster has been dedicated to S/L Ian Bazalgette VC, the only Albertan to be awarded the Victoria Cross during WW II.

    Barry Davidson,
    [Bill, take note!] a southern Alberta pilot who spent almost five years as a POW and was very involved in "The Great Escape," has his aircraft's markings on our restored Blenheim. Our restored Blenheim cockpit section honours Albert Prince. Sgt. (Pilot) Prince was our country's first casualty of the war and the first of the ten thousand Canadians to lose their lives serving with Bomber Command. Special displays, such as one honouring members of our local community who served, enhance the two basic themes of the museum. Despite all of the aircraft, artifacts, vehicles, aviation art, videos, and displays at the museum, Lancaster FM-159 remains the centrepiece as was originally envisioned by Society members in 1986. Its future now secure, the Lanc invariably impresses and sometimes overwhelms visitors with its size and stature. The displays and interpretive information that the museum has made available assist visitors in understanding this legendary aircraft and the history it represents. We strive to make our visitors welcome and to appreciate the "people" involved in the history we present, not just the aircraft, vehicles, and artifacts.

    We do not honour or glorify war here. Rather we remember and try to understand the massive and important efforts and sacrifices were made by a previous generation to secure the peace and freedom we enjoy today. But the Nanton Lancaster Society is determined to do more. Our restoration shop continues to work on various components of the Lancaster and other aircraft. New artifacts are constantly being acquired and new displays prepared, our newsletter is published twice each year to keep our membership up to date as to museum progress. The Society's travelling display regularly attends airshows and other events to promote the museum and take our message to other centres.

    Since the opening of our museum, our special events have attracted people from across Canada and Europe to honour special individuals or specific events from the history that we portray.

    The Nanton Lancaster Society continues to operate as a volunteer driven, community supported organization. It is our hope that the museum will continue to develop and improve its ability to help future generations appreciate and understand our Country's contribution to the massive efforts that were Bomber Command and the BCATP.


    Thanks to the museum staff for saving me a lot of time in researching and writing this out myself. I'll populate this thread over time with a number of pictures I've taken over the years of the aircraft and exhibits to hopefully keep you entertained. But first, I'll close this first post by including the below link to a thread dedicated to an engine run of museum's Lancaster. At that time (May 2010), two of the Merlins and props had been refurbished to operating condition: http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/warbird-displays/lancaster-merlin-run-up-24653.html
     
  2. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Jump forward to August 24, 2013 and we see the first public running of all 4 Merlins. This makes Nanton's Lancaster the 4th in the world to achieved this state of restoration, the others being the BBMF and CWH Lancs, both of which are flying, and, I believe, "Just Jane" at the Lincolnshire Aviation Centre in England.

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  3. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

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    Awesome, can't wait to see the place on Friday!
     
  4. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    One of the reasons I started this thread is so that you and any others who visit can throw their pics here. I'll try to get a few more before you come down.
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    God I need a cigarette!
     
  6. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Way cool!!!
     
  7. rochie

    rochie Well-Known Member

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    fantastic, one of the greatest stains on my countries history is how successive governments ignored Bomber Command after the war and took almost 70 years to give them the monument and medal they so thoroughly deserved !
     
  8. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Very cool Andy!
     
  9. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    #9 Crimea_River, Sep 12, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2013
    The memorial in front of the museum has over 10,000 names of Canadian Bomber Command crews who lost their lives during the war.

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  10. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #10 Airframes, Sep 15, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2013
    Great thread Andy, and a fantastic achievement by the Museum. I think I have a pic of the Lanc from the late 1950's or early 1960's - I'll have a look for it.
    EDIT:- Found that photo, but it's the Calgary Lanc, when it was being placed on its plinth.
     
  11. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    #11 Crimea_River, Oct 6, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2013
    I'll start here a small photo tour of the aircraft exhibits, starting with the Fleet Fawn. The Museum, although growing to be a bit eclectic, has the Bomber Command as well as its Air Training Program, which was such a large part of the Alberta aviation scene during the war, as its primary focus.

    In the background you can see a full scale Lancaster landing gear assembly which is fully operational....after inserting a buck.

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  12. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Good stuff, looking forward to seeing more :cool:
     
  13. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Good stuff Andy.
     
  14. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Good stuff Andy!
     
  15. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Thanks guys. A pristine Tigermoth is next:

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  16. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Great thread Andy.

    Geo
     
  17. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Nice shots Andy!
     
  18. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Continuing with the next trainer, the ubiquitous Harvard is also part of the display:

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    Nearby is an old fuel tanker and forklift.

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  19. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Great stuff Andy. That fork-lift looks like a clockwork, wind-up thing !
     
  20. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    It does, doesn't it? I'll have to ask about this unit as it dies not have a description. Seems like the shaft with the pulley is for driving attachment machinery.
     
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