A veteran who was lucky to survive 60 missions in Lancaster bombers during World War II was present yesterday for the unveiling of new markings on a Lancaster now to be known as "a lucky aircraft".
The markings, from a legendary Lancaster that flew more than 100 missions, were yesterday unveiled on an Avro Lancaster kept in the Motat Aviation Hall in Auckland.
Nose markings from The Captain's Fancy have been replicated in time for the 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion, and to honour the 6000 New Zealand veterans of Bomber Command who served in World War II.
The Captain's Fancy was described yesterday as "a lucky aircraft" by the president of the Bomber Command Association, Ron Mayhill, for continually returning from missions when the average Lancaster completed only 14 before being lost.
After the war, members of 75 Squadron wanted to see the aircraft return to New Zealand, however it was sent to be scrapped in 1947.
Maurice "Nick" Carter, now aged 93, served with Bomber Command in 75 New Zealand Squadron and in 156 Pathfinder Squadron. He flew 60 missions and yesterday said he felt lucky to have survived so many flights.
"I'm very lucky. I did 60 trips, you were lucky if you did 10 when the casualty rate was 70 per cent."
Mr Carter said his missions were completed before The Captain's Fancy entered service.
He said he did not usually think about his wartime service, but when he attended air force occasions such as this unveiling he took a moment to reflect on what he did.
He said it brought back memories to be so close to the Lancaster which is now to be known as The Captain's Fancy at Motat.
"It's very interesting, you do sort of forget about it."
He said his health was good and his only complaint was a "crook in my neck".
He made a donation to Motat of a large painting of a Lancaster.
Mr Carter was one of about 100 veterans, veterans' families and special guests who attended yesterday's ceremony.
A caricature of Captain Rreilly-Ffoul of the Arntwee Hall from the popular comic strip Just Jake was painted alongside the bomb tally of the aircraft to make it look just like the original The Captain's Fancy.
The caricature was painted on the original aircraft before its 39th operation. The captain painted was thought to be Flight Sergeant Lethbridge, who at that point had flown the most missions in The Captain's Fancy.
Squadron Leader Jonathan Pote said The Captain's Fancy made it through all those missions over Europe because it was "lucky, obviously, but also maintained well by ground crew".
He said ground crew were often forgotten despite all their hard work in often dangerous conditions.
He paid tribute to the officers of 75 Squadron who contributed to the remarkable fact that of the 30 Royal Air Force aircraft that reached 100 flights, the New Zealand squadron had three.
Royal New Zealand Air Force chaplain Squadron Leader Stuart Hight blessed the new markings on the plane in memory of the aircrew who died in battle.
Motat's Lancaster bomber was presented by the French Government to the people of New Zealand in 1964 in recognition of the 6000 New Zealanders who served in RAF Bomber Command during World War II.
Almost 2000 New Zealanders died while serving with Bomber Command.