Avro 679
Manchester

Twin engine medium bomber that was the direct ancestor of the Avro Lancaster.
 
 
The Avro Type 679 Manchester was designed by A.V. Roe & Company (Avro) Chief Designer Roy Chadwick to Specification P.13/36 which called for a twin engine medium bomber.
 
Two prototypes were ordered (L7246 and L7247), the first of these flying for the first time at Ringway on 25th July 1939. Avro selected the 1,760 hp 24-cylinder Rolls-Royce Vulture I engine to power the Manchester.
 
Avro 679 Manchester L7246 ground Prototype Avro 679 Manchester (L7246) showing the Vulture engine installation.
 
When initially flown, the Avro 679 Manchester tail section featured a low-set tailplane with twin fins. Following early test flying, a third central fin was fitted although only the outer fins were fitted with rudders.
 
The second prototype (L7247) flew in May 1940, and was fitted with defensive armament comprising front, rear and ventral Frazer Nash turrets, each fitted with two 0.303 machine guns. The wingspan of the second prototype was increased by nearly ten feet by comparison to that of the first aircraft.
 
 
Avro 679 Manchester Mk.I L7248 air to air This view of Avro 679 Manchester Mk.I L7248 shows the early three fin configuration.
 
An initial production order for 200 Avro 689 Manchester I aircraft was placed against Specification 19/37, these aircraft differing from the second prototype in having the ventral turret replaced by a more streamlined dorsal turret. A further 100 aircraft were ordered from Metropolitan-Vickers Ltd, to be built at Trafford Park.
 
Deliveries from A.V. Roe commenced in July 1940, whilst Metropolitan-Vickers aircraft followed a full 9 months later. These had been severely delayed when their Trafford Park factory was extensively damaged by a bombing raid in December 1940. This resulted in the total destruction of what would have been their initial batch of  thirteen Metropolitan-Vickers built aircraft, thus delaying the first delivery which eventually took place in March 1941.
 
Production of the Avro 679 Manchester was curtailed however, due in the main to the poor reliability of the type on operations. This was also decided upon due to the forecast promise of a much superior performance expected from the four-engine, Merlin-powered, Avro 698 Lancaster.
 
The first unit to operate the Avro 679 Manchester however, was 207 Sqn with the first operational sortie being flown on 24/25th February 1941. The Rolls-Royce Vulture engine suffered frequent failures but by then the engine manufacturer had directed all of their attention to the progressive development of the Merlin engine, rather than diverting resources to the troublesome fore-runner.
 
Avro 679 Manchester 1A L7486 air to air Manchester 1A L7486 with the twin fin configuration; all aircraft were modified in this way.
 
Later production aircraft can be recognised by a modified empennage and by the tailplane span being increased to 33 feet. The outer tail fins were also increased in height and made more elliptical in shape whilst most obvious of all was that the central fin was removed. Additionally, a four-gun rear turret was also adopted on this Mark and in this form, the type was redesignated as the Avro 679 Manchester IA.
 
All Avro 679 Manchester I aircraft were progressively modified to Avro 679 Manchester IA standard.
 
The Manchester was withdrawn from operations in mid-1942, following which it was as a trainer to convert crews to the Lancaster. The Manchester was retired from service in 1943.
 
A four-engine development using Merlin engines was trialled by the modification of a Avro 679 Manchester (BT308), this aircraft becoming in effect, the first prototype for the famous Avro 698 Lancaster. Such was the promise of the Avro 698 Lancaster that Avro 679 Manchester production was curtailed.
 
The final production numbers were 157 aircraft built by Avro themselves and 43 by Metropolitan-Vickers.
 

Specification - Avro 679 Manchester 1A


Powerplant
Two 1,760 hp Rolls-Royce Vulture I 24-cylinder engines
Span
90 ft 1 in
Maximum Weight
50,000 lb (Manchester I), 56,000 lb (Avro Manchester IA)
Capacity and armament
7 crew. Two 0.303in machine guns in nose, tail and dorsal turrets. Avro Manchester IA had four guns in the rear turret. Up to 10,350 lb bombs.
Maximum Speed
265 mph at 17,000 ft
Cruise Speed
205 mph
Range
1,200 miles (10,350 lb bomb load) / 1,630 miles (8,100 lb bomb load)

 

Variants & Numbers

Prototypes
Two aircraft (L7246 & L7247)                                                            
Avro Manchester I
Initial production 300 ordered from Avro and Metropolitan-Vickers
Avro Manchester IA
Modified tail configuration and increased weight. All aircraft converted to this standard.
Avro Manchester III
One Avro Manchester aircraft (BT308) modified to be powered by four Merlin engines, with increased wingspan. Became the first prototype Avro Lancaster.
Total built
202 aircraft: 2 prototypes; production 157 by Avro and 47 by Metropolitan-Vickers.

 

Survivors


No examples of the Avro 679 Manchester survive.
 

Other information

Avro Heritage Museum (www.avroheritagemuseum.co.uk