Two airframes (HK541 and SW244) were modified to carry a dorsal “saddle tank” with 1,200 gal (5,455 L) mounted aft of a modified canopy for increasing range. No. 1577 SD Flight tested the aircraft in India and Australia in 1945 for possible use in the Pacific, but the tank adversely affected handling characteristics when full and an early type of flight refuelling designed in the late 1930s for commercial flying boats was later used instead. It was structurally unsound, which was found upon early full load landings with landing gear collapses.
Avro Lancaster B I (FE)
In anticipation of the needs of the Tiger Force operations against the Japanese in the Far East (FE), a tropicalized variant was based on late production aircraft. The B I (FE) had modified radio, radar, navaids, and a 400 gal (1,818 L) tank installed in the bomb bay. Most were painted with white upper-surfaces and black undersides with a low demarcation between the colours.
UK Air Ministry had Avro design a ‘tropicalized ‘ Lancaster with the mid-top machine gun turret was replaced by a 400 gallon fuel tank and the plane had Gee, Loran, and the “Rebecca” half of the Rebecca/Eureka beacon system. This plan was considered by Avro the Lancaster Mark I Far East (FE), the Avro Lincoln was considered the Lancaster Mark VII FE. The Mark VII had the identical Gee, Loran, and the “Rebecca”
A fully tricked out Lancaster Mark I Far East (FE) had a one way range of 3,180 miles.
The Tiger Force had a radius of action of at least 1,000 miles with the Lancaster Mark I Far East (FE) and the Lincoln Mark VII FE were better. Operating from Okinawa, the RAF Tiger Force didn’t really need air-to-air refueling, even if they brought some of the air-to-air refueling kits.
Rebecca meant the British bombers could beacon bomb in support of the troops ashore in Kyushu. The 10cm UPN-1/2 beacons in Gen. Kenney’s wish list for Olympic meant Gee-H type ‘cat and mouse’ bombing was on the table, if the Lancaster Mark I Far East (FE) also had H2S radar.
During the September 1944 Quebec Conference, Winston Churchill proposed that once Germany was defeated and the Allied attention turned towards the defeat of Japan. He proposed to transfer a large portion of Bomber Command or some 500 to 1000 heavy bombers to the Pacific theatre. The proposal was quickly accepted by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
By late 1944, victory was more a matter of time rather than a question of being achieved and the decisions was made on 20 October 1944 to form a very large bomber force code named “Tiger Force”
Initially consisting of twenty-two squadron’s formed into three bomber groups. One Royal Air Force (RAF), one Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) and one contain squadrons from the Royal Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and South African Air Force (SAAF). The force was reduced to ten bomber squadron in two groups consisting of RAF and RCAF squadrons and was later revised to include only eight squadrons.
Tiger Force was to the based on Okinawa and would use Avro Lancaster’s, the newly arriving Avro Lincoln’s and Consolidated Liberator’s. Fighter escort duties were to be supplied by US Far East Air Force units and the Australian First Tactical Air Force as well as other Commonwealth units.
Aircraft marking for the Avro Lancaster and Lincoln’s was to be white upper-surfaces with black undersides. All Tiger Force was to be cancelled before being deployed this colour scheme was used on many RAF post-war Lancaster’s and Lincolns.
Avro Lincoln Bomber
The major user was the Royal Air Force and production Lincoln B. Is were delivered from February 1945. By VE-Day about 50 had been test flown and delivered to maintenance units or to specialist organisations such as the Telecommunications Flying Unit at Defford, the Aircraft Torpedo Development Unit at Gosport, to Rolls-Royce at Hucknall for engine trials and, of course, to Boscombe Down. The Bomber Development Unit at Feltwell received its first Lincolns on 21 May 1945 and the first RAF squadron. No. 57 at East Kirby, received an initial allocation of three Lincoln B. IIs for its Lincoln Trials Flight in August 1945. The B. II was powered by Merlin 66 or 68 engines and was fitted with the Bristol B17 dorsal turret, Boulton Paul ‘D’ rear turret, and Mk IIIG H2S radar.
The surrender of the Japanese and the disbandment of the “Tiger Force” destined for the Pacific, coupled with delays in getting the Lincoln into service, meant that the type was not used operationally during World War II.
According to an article in Air Pictorial (10-74) by Bruce Robertson the Order of Battle Planning by 15-08-1945 was:
No.5 Group RAF:
Communications Flt 3 Austers
551 Wing (to be formed at Conningsby, operational 01-01-46)
83 Sqn – 20 Lancasters
97 Sqn – 20 Lancasters
627 Sqn – 30 Mosquitoes B.35(P.F) (desp. at Woodhall Spa)
552 Wing RAF (to be formed at Metheringham, operational 01-01-46)
106 Sqn – 20 Lancasters
467 Sqn (RAAF) 20 Lancasters
544 Sqn – 20 Mosquitoes PR(Met)34 (forming at Benson)
553 Wing RAF (To be formed at East Kirkby to be deployed in build up 1946)
57 Sqn – 20 Lincolns B.II
460 Sqn (RAAF) – 20 Lincolns B.II
554 Wing RAF (to be formed at Spilsby, to be operational 01-01-46)
75 Sqn (RNZAF) – 20 Lancasters
207 Sqn – 20 Lancasters
Special Missions Wing RAF (forming at Waddington) to be called forward late 1945
9 Sqn – 20 Lancasters
617 Sqn – 20 Lancasters
No.6 Group RCAF:
Comm.Flt 3 Austers
661 Wing RCAF forming Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, to be operational 01-01-46
432 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lancasters
434 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lancasters
662 Wing RCAF (Force build up Wing)
419 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lincolns B.II
428 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lincolns B.II
663 Wing RCAF (forming Debert) for employment early 1946
420 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lincolns B.II
425 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lincolns B.II
664 Wing RCAF (forming Scoudouc, New Brunswick) for deployment early 1946
405 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lincolns
408 Sqn RCAF – 20 Lincolns
… Wing RCAF (to be arranged later)
also four MU were forming up: 381 – 382 -383 – 384.
Tiger Force was intended to be stationed at Okinawa.
General Spaatz specifically requested that the RAF have two ‘Tallboy’ Squadrons of Lancasters operational on Okinawa by October 15 1945. He required them to attack specific targets on the Japanese mainland before the invasion of Kyushu on November 1 1945.
He required them to take out several major bridges between Tokyo and Shimoniseki as well as the Kammon Tunnel linking Honshu and Kyushu using their ‘Tallboy’ and ‘Grand Slam’ bombs.
No 9 and 617 Squadrons of RAF were selected for this task.
There were two major problems facing Tiger Force:
20 Air Force (Marianas) was seeking more forward bases and
Mighty Eight had already formed a nucleus HQ at Okinawa
whilst training in the US with the B-29.
Tiger Force would have been only “a small adjunct to the Mighty Eight” (BR)
The dropping of the A-Bombs sealed Tiger Forces fate.
Shipments were suspended, ships at sea recalled, HQ’s were reduced and Tiger Force was officially disbanded on 31st October 1945.
Hiroshima 1945 – The British Atomic Attack
This is the story of the secret ‘Black Lancasters’, a specially trained RAF unit that was to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Why? Because the American B-29 Superfortress couldn’t do it! Find out how this extraordinary situation arose and how the Americans managed to perform the mission in the end. Dr. Mark Felton is a well-known British historian, the author of 22 non-fiction books, including bestsellers ‘Zero Night’ and ‘Castle of the Eagles’, both currently being developed into movies in Hollywood. In addition to writing, Mark also appears regularly in television documentaries around the world, including on The History Channel, Netflix, National Geographic, Quest, American Heroes Channel and RMC Decouverte. His books have formed the background to several TV and radio documentaries.