During the height of the Second World War, RAF Bomber Command made it their priority to damage and destroy as much of Nazi Germany’s industry as possible (industry is after all the heart of any war effort). After in depth studies and many attacks on Germany’s industrial areas, the British soon realised that enemy factories were not just being rebuilt very quickly after they had been attacked, they also became dispersed over a far wider area, which made them more difficult to attack again.
Because of this, a plan was devised to cripple Germany’s Ruhr Valley, where dams provided hydro-electric power for the Third Reich’s industrial heartland. This plan came to be known as Operation Chastise and the courageous men of the RAF who were tasked with carrying it out became legends.
They were the Dambusters
The Dambusters Raid
On the night of 16th/17th May 1943, 19 specially modified Lancaster bombers of 617 Squadron took off from RAF Scampton to carry out Operation Chastise. The raid was notorious for using specially developed ‘bouncing bombs’ – invented by aircraft designer Barnes Wallis – which were designed to be dropped from a low altitude and skid along the surface of the water into the dams. These innovative weapons of war proved highly accurate, skimming across the river when dropped and exploding underwater to cause maximum damage to the dams.
Without doubt, the raid was an unmitigated success as it destroyed the output of hydro-electric power and curtailed armaments production in the Ruhr. Two power plants were also destroyed and the consequent flooding killed 1,600 people and destroyed acres of farmland. Wallis himself wrote: “I feel a blow has been struck at Germany from which she cannot recover for several years.”
This year marks the 70th anniversary of this most audacious and supremely well calculated of airborne missions.
Dambusters Helicopter Flights
If you have an interest in military history or are simply fascinated by the Dambusters story then you will surely have one of our Dambusters Helicopter Tours high on your ‘things to do’ list this year. Indeed, this amazing flight – which follows 617 Squadron’s training through the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire – really is a truly amazing experience.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, will take you back down the famous route and over the twin dams. The 30-minute journey will take you back in time and show you what it was really like to fly over reservoirs and identify targets as a member of the legendary 617 squadron.
The Dambusters Helicopter Tour has got to be one of the most exciting of all our sightseeing experience days. Not only will you get to fly over some of the most beautiful countryside in England, you’ll also get a real insight into how the brave pilots of 617 Squadron trained for the greatest raid in the RAF’s history.
How’s that for a great day out!