467 SQN Avro Lanncaster B Mk1 S for Sugar

Able Engineering are proud to be helping Martin Willoughby with the build of his replica Avro Lancaster fuselage. Visit www.lancasterraf.co.uk for more info on the project.

Grimsby man Martin Willoughby has spent the past seven years of his life single-handedly building a replica of the Lancaster bomber his late father worked on during the Second World War. But after being diagnosed with Leukaemia, Martin has decided to appeal to members of the public to help him complete his dream.

GAZING up at his father perched in the cockpit of a Lancaster bomber, Martin Willoughby's love affair with the grand old plane began.

The year was 1969 and Martin was just four years old at the time.

The pair had travelled to RAF Scampton after his father Ted received a tip-off that the Lancaster he worked on during the Second World War had been moved there.

Despite holding only faint hope of discovering the aircraft, Ted and Martin did and the photo which captured that moment is a prized possession of Martin's, who is now aged 49.

Seven years ago, Martin, who lives at Laceby Acres, decided to see if he could build an aircraft panel, much like one found on the Avro Lancaster B I R5868 "S-Sugar" – the exact one on which Ted Willoughby served on during his time in Bomber Command.

Martin said: "One day I built a panel piece of the plane and just thought, 'you know what, I can build the whole thing.'"

He was true to his word.

The model has been carefully crafted by Martin himself and measures around ten metres.

The construction continues to swell with each new fixture that is fitted and Martin hopes that the entire fuselage will eventually be built.

So, taking into account the amount of time, money and hard work that has gone into this project, one simple question arises – why?

Martin is clear with the motivations behind the grand plans.

"I wanted people to experience what I experienced when I first sat in my father's Lancaster," he said.

"When it is all finished I want to take the model to schools, air shows and exhibits so people can go inside and experience what it was like to fly one of these things.

"I hope it can maintain the memory of these young airmen and highlight what they actually did through what will be an entirely interactive experience."

"There is still much work to be done, but as this one-man mission takes shape, one gets a feeling that this is a very special and worthy project that will benefit the people of Lincolnshire with another attraction in the form of another Lancaster."

He added: "The possibilities are endless in terms of the future of this project.

"There are plans to make a complete fuselage and turn this into an entirely accurate simulator with everything in each of the crew stations functional.

"The computer programs already exist to make this a reality and although this is a long way off, I believe that, based on what has been achieved thus far, anything is possible."

Martin hopes to create a truly immersive experience in which adults and children alike will be transported back to the Second World War.

Step inside Martin's model and you are faced with a true-to-life representation of what it would have been like to climb into one of the iconic old planes.

Authentic dials, radios, seats and machine guns have been sourced and bought by Martin from all over the world and are present inside the shell of the fuselage.

Martin said the simulator has been built with easy transportation in mind, so in the future it can be seen by as many people as possible.

He said: "The fuselage section goes all the way from the bomb aimer's compartment with the FN5 gun turret on top through the pilots' station to the flight engineer's station and navigator's station then onto the wireless operator's station and beyond.

"It almost reaches the mid upper turret – it's very big!"