Avro Lancaster KB882 Found a New Home

As WarbirdsNews reported back in February, the combat veteran Avro Lancaster KB882 which has long been on outside display in Edmundston, New Brunswick was set to move to a new home. The local town council, which owns the former RCAF bomber, had come to the sad conclusion that they no longer had the means to care for the rare aircraft in its deteriorating state, and decided they had to pass the torch to another group, even if that meant that KB882 had to leave its home in the maritimes. The small team of volunteers which has been doing their best to maintain the aircraft, despite the adverse conditions, fielded about twenty proposals from other organizations seeking to take on the aircraft, and presented the Edmundston City Council with the four which they felt were the best. The City Council has now made their choice, and announced on 18 March that the Lancaster will be heading to the Alberta Aviation Museum in Edmonton, Alberta.

“While it saddens us that she must go, we are pleased to have found a safe home for KB882. This Lancaster has an impressive story to tell and we firmly believe the Alberta Aviation Museum will be able to give her a voice,” says Mychèle Poitras, chairwoman of the Society for the Preservation of the Edmundston Lancaster.

Lech Lebiedowski, the Alberta Aviation Museum’s curator sees the immensity of the importance that the Lancaster has in Canadian aviation history as well as to his museum. “KB882 is indeed a time capsule preserved intact for over half a century,” he said. “In many ways it is a curator’s dream coming true. It will also be one of the most exciting restoration projects we have ever undertaken.” The Alberta Aviation Museum will now set about moving the aircraft to its new home and commencing its restoration, something which they plan on rigorously documenting in a way which also celebrates Edmundston’s half century role in its history. “We are honoured to have been chosen to receive this important artifact from the people of Edmundston,” says Tom Sand, President of the Alberta Aviation Museum Association. “It shows the high regard for our museum and its track record of preserving and telling the important stories of aviation in this country.”

KB882 flew eleven bombing missions against German forces during WWII and returned to Canada to continue service in the post-war Royal Canadian Air Force. KB882 then received modifications, alongside other RCAF Lancasters, upgrading to the SHORAN radar which enabled Canada to map its Arctic territory in only nine years. KB882 is the only remaining Lancaster still in its aerial mapping configuration. The aircraft also has a strong connection to Edmonton, Alberta having flown some of its arctic survey missions from the province’s capitol. 408 Squadron, in which KB882 served, also has ties with the city, having moved there in 1971. It still operates from the Edmonton Garrison, flying the CH-146 Griffon helicopter, a derivative of the Bell UH-1.

The storm clouds gather over KB882 as the Edmundston City Council decides her fate. (Credits: Benoit de Mulder, via Warbirdsnews)
The storm clouds gather over KB882 as the Edmundston City Council decides her fate. (Credits: Benoit de Mulder, via Warbirdsnews)

The Alberta Aviation Museum should be a good fit for KB882. The museum is based at Edmonton’s Blatchford Field, a historic site once home to the pioneer bush pilots, and later an important site for the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan during WWII and later as a hub for arctic exploration. The museum occupies the only remaining double-wide, double long hangar built for the BCATP, which is itself a designated historic building. The Alberta Aviation Museum has a great deal of experience in aircraft restoration as well, having completed ground-up rebuilds on several important airframes, including a B-25 Mitchell, a de Havilland Mosquito and two Noorduyn Norseman. KB882 seems therefore to have found a great new home.