The Lancaster, PA474, never saw combat although it’s been flogged round the country for years, taking credit for a victory in which it had no part; like an aeronautical John Terry.
The fighter is visiting the UK for the summer air-show season and was being put through its paces in a mock air battle in the skies over Harold. The pilot explains what happened. “Contrary to your propaganda, the 109 had the edge over the Spitfire and Hurricane escorts and I soon out- manoeuvred them. Then, when the Lancaster appeared in my gun sights I let it have a ‘pretend’ 3 second cannon burst. I’d forgotten we’d loaded it with paint balls”.
The paint covered the bomber’s windscreen, blocked its air intakes, and meant the crew had to bail out. All of them were uninjured and pilot Thomas Edwards didn’t blame the German pilot.
“I’m sure he didn’t mean this to happen. Though as I was steering my parachute to avoid the sewage works, the Messerschmidt flew past slowly, with the cockpit canopy pulled back. I’d swear I heard him say ‘For you Tommy, ze war is over’.”
In his defence, his opposite number countered “If they didn’t want to be shot at, why paint a target on the fuselage?”