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S for Sugar Lancaster R5868 Replica

The replica Lancaster built by Martin Willoughby in memory of his father Ted arrived at the Museum on Monday 30th October 2017.

The following information is taken from the teams website https://www.lancasterraf.co.uk/

The flight deck will be accessible to visitors in the near future.

Martins late Father “Ted Willoughby” was the inspiration behind the project to recreate the S for Sugar replica.

Ted Served on Bomber Command on Lancaster’s during World War Two, more specifically although he was RAF he served on 467 SQN RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) as a ground engineer and was assigned to a Lancaster BMK1 that was inbound and had been transferred from another Squadron. This was as a replacement for another Lancaster ED500 which had crashed returning from a raid.
When the replacement aircraft arrived it had been transferred from 83 SQN at RAF Scampton to 467 SQN at RAF Waddington, it had already completed 69 operations a staggering and impressive tally we now know that the average statistical life of a Lancaster was much less than this and the rate of attrition at the time in terms of crew members was greater than any part of any of the allied forces.

If you were flying on bomber command you were inherently unlikely to survive… and were very – very lucky if you did!! The ferry pilot that delivered the aircraft to Ted said it was finished fit only for the scrap heap but with Teds help it went on flying.

The tail number of the aircraft was R5868 it was an early BMK1 that had been only the 27th production Lancaster produced at the AVRO works at Trafford Park Manchester, the 467 SQN code letters PO – S were applied and the aircraft gained an identity as S – for Sugar.

Sugar began operations with 467 SQN on the night of 26/27 Nov 1943 the target was Berlin and she immediately ran into trouble when she collided with another Lancaster over the target, this forced Sugar into a severe dive to port the pilot Flying Officer Jack Colpus managed to recover the aircraft back to land at RAF Tholthorpe and after repairs were conducted Sugar went back into front line service, and everyone on the Squadron began to get a feeling that she was a survivor, crews begged to fly in her. Someone loading a fused 4000lb bomb onto her & dropped it, (Ted heard a metallic clunk from the flight deck and when he popped his head up everyone was running away from the aircraft) the bomb did not go off.
She suffered flak damage and friendly fire she made it back.

During Sugars time on 83 SQN her nose art showed a devil Mestophilise to whom Faust sold his soul to in German legend thumbing his nose and dancing in flames with the motto “Devils of the Air” beneath him. When Sugar arrived at 467 SQN the nose art was replaced with a naked lady holding and about to drop a bomb, however because the propaganda machine began to recognise the value of such a lucky aircraft Sugars existing nose art the naked lady had to go it was not P/C enough and was replaced by one bomb for each operation completed.

S for Sugar 100 ops 2S for Sugar 100 ops 1

Ted had been reading at that time and saw a Cartoon poking fun at the famous German Reichmarshal Hermann Georing in which he suggests that the German defences were unpenatrable from the air. Ted came up with an idea for a new nose art and requested that he be allowed to apply it to the port side of the nose under the cockpit it read as follows “NO ENEMY PLANE WILL FLY OVER THE REICH TERRITORY” signed Herman Georing, Ted got his wish and spent a night in the hanger stencilling it to the aircraft, Sugar was rolled out of the hanger the next morning and pictures were taken however Ted spelt Hermann with only one ‘n’ Herman should have been spelt Hermann!!

Sugar had survived everything thrown at her, even a sustained attack’s from two JU88 night fighters, she fought them off to make it back to Waddington, she had to it was her 100th operation and she became the first allied bomber to reach this astonishing milestone. Sugar went onto complete an incredible 137 ops the war ended and Ted went sadly back to Civi Street and that should have been the end of the story.

During the mid – 1960’s Ted began to wonder what had happened to ‘Sugar’ and whether or not she had been broken up without thought. He had made several fruitless enquiries and was about to give up when in 1969 he was informed that there was a Lancaster at the gate at RAF Scampton. However he was told that it had the wrong code letters on it to be ‘Sugar’ Ted had decided that it was worth a trip to see this mysterious Lancaster anyway and took along Martin then 4 years of age for the trip.

S for Sugar Ted & Martin

S for Sugar ScamptonOn their arrival approaching Scampton’s gates from the south on the A15 the Lancaster came into view and the disappointing code letters OL-Q could be seen(This was the 83 squadron code). However, as Ted and Martin turned into the gate the familiar nose art with the bombs and the Georing quotation were apparent and on gaining entry Ted went straight to the tail number which identified the aircraft beyond doubt – it read R5868.

Ted could not believe his eyes! His Lancaster had survived everything, even the scrap yard, which when you consider it was just one of 7377 Lancaster’s built seemed unbelievable. Ted later discovered that 83 Sqn were flying Avro Vulcan’s from Scampton and when it was realised that ‘Sugar’ had started her career on 83 Sqn the PO – S code letters were removed and replaced with the OL – Q Queenie code letters of 83 SQN hence this is what had caused the confusion over her identity.
Ted and Martin went onboard and were met with a scene of decay and neglect, all of the internal components had been removed for PA474 (the only flying example at that time), and ‘Sugar’ was in poor condition.

Permission was gained for Ted to carry out a restoration project on the aircraft and many trips were made to work on her and obtain missing parts. Ted had his heart set on ‘Sugar’ going into the new RAF Museum at Hendon, North London, and with that in mind took his suggestion to the MOD citing the fact that it had greater historical value than the other Lancaster that was already earmarked to go to Hendon.

This aircraft was an air worthy example tail number “PA474” built at the end of the war in 1945 and had not seen any active service, whereas Sugar had an esteemed and decorated record breaking career and was of national importance. After many months of campaigning Ted was contacted by Dr John Tanner, the new director general and Museum’s top man, who informed him his wish would come true.

S for Sugar with Ted Willoughby

Ted did not know it at the time but his success in securing Sugars future in the care of the RAF Museum at Hendon had also assisted in keeping an example flying to this day because PA474 was adopted by the City of Lincoln and became the mainstay of the BBMF or Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight, and is often seen in the UK’s skies to this day.

‘Sugar’ was dismantled in 1970, and was then transported to Hendon via RAF Bicester and RAF Northolt and after many years of spending long weekends manufacturing parts, scratch rebuilding, fitting and collecting parts Ted with Martin at his side restored Sugar to her former glory “a legend during WW2 ” “a legend then in the 1970’s” and now “a legend forever” and distinguished career and a long life and she owes that life to Ted Willoughby the man she met on that wind swept airfield in WW2. To this day as she proudly dominates the entrance to Bomber Command Hall in all her glory and it was Ted that got her there.

 

 

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