Saving the Lanc
Windsor’s Own Lancaster Bomber
Also found in Best
of The Times 2006 Edition by Walkerville Publishing
From “Lancaster Bomber Recollections”
by the late Harry O. Brumpton, former Commissioner, Windsor
Dept. of Parks & Rec., 1959-1982
The Lancaster FM 212,
on display in Windsor's Jackson Park for several decades,
has been removed for restoration.
Early in the 1960s, a great deal of public
interest was generated locally in the disbandment of the RCAF’s
remaining Lancaster Squadrons. Following the preparation of
a favourable study, City Council approved the purchase of
a Bomber for the sum of $1,250.
Following negotiations with War Assets
of Canada, our initial task was to fly up to Dunnville, Ontario
and select a Lancaster from the many that were stored at that
abandoned airfield. The selection presented no problem due
to the fact that, unlike all the other Lancasters, which were
stored on the open tarmac, FM212 was housed indoors in a mothballed
condition. In actuality, FM212 was airworthy and could have
been readied for flight at an estimated cost of $10,000.
Yard owner Capt. George Dilts was a true
entrepreneur of the old school. When pressed for a price to
move the bomber from Dunnville to Windsor, Capt. Dilts dropped
to the shop floor and there with a piece of chalk quickly
computed a price for all to see of $3000, which was acceptable
to everyone present.
Captain Dilts’ trip to Windsor on
August 29th, 1964 was memorable. He had removed the wings
of the aircraft and stored them alongside the fuselage of
the aircraft which had been pushed aboard the barge. The four
motors were put aboard in their heavy tank-like containers.
The whole entourage of tugs and barge then began a challenging
voyage across Lake Erie and up the Detroit River to Windsor.
Dilts nearly lost his load twice due to rough seas.
FM212 was partially re-assembled at the
riverfront site primarily for the purpose of generating public
interest in the fundraising programme. A single wing, along
with one motor, were mounted on the aircraft by Parks mechanics.
It was a debilitating sight to see our once proud Lancaster
perched on the river’s edge minus a wing and three motors
– sort of like a plucked turkey.
Future Windsor Mayor,
Bert Weeks, with children, Elaine and Doug, visiting
the Lancaster at the Windsor riverfront in Dieppe
Once ashore, the Lancaster was readied
for public inspection at 25 cents per head. A fixed stairway
was constructed leading into the cockpit through the forward
escape hatch. Eventually, funds in the amount of $20,000 were
raised for the construction of the plinth in Jackson Park.
Once the plinth was completed, it became
necessary to move the bomber from its location on the riverfront
in downtown Windsor to Jackson Park, some two miles distant.
The move was accomplished at night under the direction of
a local house mover. Fortunately, the route led straight from
the river up our main street, Ouellette Avenue, directly to
Jackson Park. Mid-winter was chosen as the time for the move
so that the heavy bomber could be towed across the frozen
park without causing damage to the turf. With the aircraft
finally home, it was then locked down and the engines and
props were reinstalled.
Over time, the Lancaster began looking
wear for wear. The Canadian Historical Aircraft Association
was formed in Windsor in 1992 and officially incorporated
as a non-profit organization in 1995. Arrangements for a cooperative
work program with the City of Windsor were made and volunteers
began working on basic maintenance and modest restoration
efforts in September of 1993. Volunteers replaced many missing
components of the aircraft including a new cockpit canopy
and bomb aimers nose blister. The engines were inhibited against
corrosion yearly to prevent them from seizing.
Unfortunately, due to further deterioration
of the aircraft, it was removed from its pedestal on May 26th,
2005, and replaced with two full scale replica WWII memorial
aircrafts, the Spitfire and the Hurricane. FM212 is to be
restored for future viewing in a yet-to-be determined controlled