View Full Version : Dam Busters
13th Jun 2012, 03:19
OK there is an aviation content in this thread but it's not so much about the flying.
Watched another documentory on the TV the other evening about a modern day English scientist who went through the motions of redesigning the Dambuster bombs and I got to thinking as there appeared to be a lot of designing,engineering and flying to be done to get them to work correctly. The documentory was the one where they used the Ice Pilots Alaska crew to bomb a much smaller scale fabricated dam.
Could it not have been done using a torpedo style bomb with a better chance of placing the bombs where the needed to be. I realise that the torpedo would have to be larger than anything available at the time but would that not have a simpler and perhaps safer from a flying crew perspective alternative.
Liked the documentory though it had the obligatory artistic licence content.
13th Jun 2012, 03:36
The dams were protected by torpedo nets. Hence the solution of bouncing the bombs over them.
13th Jun 2012, 03:42
Should have thought of that and after I read your reply I realised that I did read that somewhere.
13th Jun 2012, 03:47
Watched the same program in Australia a few weeks back. Fascinating stuff, especially as Wallis only left the completed findings but not his notes so it was quite difficult to recreate.
I was amazed at the film taken of (I presume) the post-war tests where the splash created by the mine took the tailplane off the aircraft causing it to crash. I have never seen that film clip before.
13th Jun 2012, 04:16
...and yet, they repeated the same mistake in the doco, with a happy result though.
I didn't think much of using the drill to spin the bomb, but I guess they did what they could with what they had. I've always wondered if directional "ribs" on the bombs surface would have done the trick. :confused:
13th Jun 2012, 05:21
I was slightly surprised at the use of the drill as well and I also had thought about directional ribs. Are you refering to ribs along the bomb axis to help it spin in the airflow or at 90 deg for directional stability. If along the axis to help it spin it would have the affect of stopping the spin on contact with the water as I believe the spin was backwards. Having said that on the real bomb they had electric motors so the spin up was not a problem.
13th Jun 2012, 05:37
Yes, along the axis.
I thought it spun forwards so when it hit the dam wall (sorry for my language), it stayed up against the wall. Clearly, I'm not versed in these things.
**Edit. According to the most accurate source of info on the Internet...Wikipedia...it was backspin.
13th Jun 2012, 05:47
Good job there were people better versed than us at the time.
13th Jun 2012, 05:50
I was under the impression it spun "backwards" so it went off underwater after "climbing" down the wall. This was to use the water upstream of the wall to increase the explosive effect on the wall (and also presumably better to blow a fault/crack in the wall lower down, rather than blow the top off the wall and leave the rest of the wall intact).
13th Jun 2012, 08:55
Yes John, my bad there. I remembered incorrectly the direction, but I did recall it was designed to hug the Dam wall. (there I go again with the language!)
Solar, if we were designing it today, there'd be a dozen committee's & the OH&S reps would shut us down before we loaded one on a plane!
13th Jun 2012, 09:10
the Dams drum-shaped bombs ("Upkeep")used by 617 rotated backwards, to carry them to depth at the face of the dam.
the smaller round anti-shipping bombs ("Highball") used by 618 squadron alegedly rotated forwards to lift them after impact - they would be no use if they dropped below the ships keel. However I've seen plenty of posts by people claiming they also rotated backwards so....
Most of the videos available on the net show either the practice runs by 618, or the tests of the prototypes. I've yet to see any film of 617 and their bombs
The aircraft which blew its tail off happened during the war when the Americans were experimenting with a view for antishipping use in the Pacific. They dropped the idea after that
Somewhere theres an earlier thread with links to most of the available videos
13th Jun 2012, 09:45
Milo, should you get to watch the doco it does contain actual footage of 617 practicing including one example where they managed to skip the mine over the beach and into, or near, some houses (all empty as a precaution against invasion).
13th Jun 2012, 10:33
I can't get it out of my head, "Who ya gonna call, Dambusters!"
13th Jun 2012, 12:30
They also dropped a few on Wales. :ouch:
13th Jun 2012, 15:38
Arnie Schreder, the Captain of Buffalo's DC-4 died of cancer recently.
13th Jun 2012, 16:39
Seems a bit wasteful to bust this (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18401162) one.
13th Jun 2012, 20:05
I've seen the documentary several times, both in the UK and Canadian versions (which are cut differently)
Thats not 617.
There's various bits of "beach" film around, none of it showing 617 squadron.
Some shows a Wellington dropping test bombs at The Fleet, Abbotsbury. The others show trial drops at Reculver of prototype bombs in a works Lancaster flown by Mutt Summers, Vicker's test pilot. Not a squadron aircraft. Other clips show the Mozzies of 618 practicing raids on ships.
617 didn't practice with the bombs. The dams raid was the first time they had seen, carried or used them
The documentary was covered in depth in this thread from May last year
In it you'll find links to film not shown in the documentary - including some of the Mosquitos of 618 Squadron
here are the clips again to make life easier
This is on a Russian website and shows 618
ЯП файлы - Dambuster Raid - VERY RARE test film including fatal American trial (http://www.yapfiles.ru/show/18047/fd4e3f9eae506d041c95ad15ebb31e96.flv.html)
This is an old 5-part documentary about the raid
As for testing the Highball on land in Wales, it happened at the Maenclochog Railway Tunnel. The local tourism team claim they managed to bowl two down the tunnel portal with seven hitting the portal.
It was practice for an attempt at German submarine sheds
Pix of the tunnel now at
Report - Maenclochog Railway Tunnel-Jan 12 - UK Urban Exploration Forums (http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?t=67514)
According to that website, the flights were "flown by Sqn Ldr Longbottom and he managed to get 4 out of 12 Highballs to go through the tunnel whilst two hit the portal"
Just came across this intriguing bit of film which puports to show two Lancasters carrying Upkeeps, though the shape of the bombs look wrong. Squadron markings are wrong as well. The film apparently was released around 1953 and even then the bombs were supposedly still secret. Note the film of bombs actually being dropped is of the smaller Highball. Presumably post war recreation?
13th Jun 2012, 22:46
The Film "Mosquito Squadron"
Poor movie, but at 29:30 in is archive film of a 318 Squadron Mozzie dropping Highballs on a practice range on land
13th Jun 2012, 23:59
Bet they all drank Cobling Blick Labol. :)
14th Jun 2012, 00:46
and heres more, this time from the Imperial War Museum
Highballs and Upkeeps being tested at (I think) Reculver
[VICKERS HIGHBALL] [Allocated] | Imperial War Museums (http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/1060003613)
14th Jun 2012, 04:15
Thanks for that link Milo - I have been looking for that movie
everywhere for the past millenium but had forgotten the title
(and that Nap Solo's mate Illya Kuryakin was the lead). Mozz
Squadron was erroneously believed to be a sequel to 633 Sq
(indeed I'm sure it used some footage from the latter) but it
Great shots of Mozzies which is why I like both MQ and 633.
14th Jun 2012, 06:09
Do you mean this stumpey? [YOUTUBE]Carling Black Label 'Dambusters' - YouTube :)
14th Jun 2012, 22:58
Some shows a Wellington dropping test bombs at The Fleet, Abbotsbury
ISTR they have one of the bombs on display there ... lovely place to visit, and they have an audio-visual show of the trials (or they used to...)
14th Jun 2012, 23:33
Its still there, at the Swannery. Its one of the early golf-ball-dimpled concept proving inert bombs, not representative of Highball or Upkeep
The Navy lifted it out of The Fleet with a Sea King a few years ago
Picture of it at File:Highball Bouncing Bomb at Abbotsbury Swannery Dorset UK.JPG - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Highball_Bouncing_Bomb_at_Abbotsbury_Swannery_Dorset_UK.JPG)
14th Jun 2012, 23:40
they have one of the bombs on display
Does anyone know if any Lancaster on the Dambusters Raid made a forced landing in occupied Europe?
As I recall, my late friend W., sometime Leutnant in the Luftwaffe and Best Man at the nuptials of Davaar and Frau Davaar, indulgent in youth to jaunts in an Me 109 provided by the Reichsmarschall, told me thirty-odd years ago that he with a group of mates, nothing better to do, I suppose, went to inspect aircraft and bomb at some airfield. All were deeply impressed with the design and workmanship of the bomb.
Can my recollection be correct?
Could (would) a pilot safely land with that amount of (explosive) weight still attached, spinning backwards or forwards or neither, to his seat by umbilical cord?
Would any RAF pilot of those days resolve on the balance of probabilities to deliver such a toy (unbroken) to his playmates across the Channel?
What would he expect Nanny to say in the Nursery back home?
Still, my memory is as set out above.
14th Jun 2012, 23:55
One bomb bounced over the dam was recovered intact - remember they had barometric fuses so they would only go off under a specific depth of water.
However I have read that a bomb was partly recovered from a crashed machine that had aborted and returned for home - I can't remember the reference offhand
The germans re-engineered it and created their own, rocket powered version: "The Kurt" - which was abandoned
As for landing with in onboard - 617 were under strict instructions to return with any unused Tallboys or Grand Slams because of their cost: use was strictly rationed, so you could expect the same with these, especially in view of the secret nature. And the second film clip below (what looks like a map) includes a picture of the one found in the woods near the dam
Kurt- German bouncing bomb - YouTube
15th Jun 2012, 00:41
The fate (where known) of the Dams raid aircraft is given at
Dam's Raid Aircraft (http://www.lancaster-archive.com/bc_damsraid6.htm)
The Second World War Experience Centre - The Dams Raid May 1943 (http://www.war-experience.org/history/keyaspects/damsraid0543/pagethree.asp) also gives details
It shows eight were lost in German held territory, and of those five crashed before attacking - so would have had the bombs on board
However - the details of actual aircraft on the two sites don't tally!
The same website may explain where the film of those three apparently dams-configured aircraft comes from
ED906, ED909, ED933 were returned to dams configuration after the war and used to drop the unused bombs at sea. I'll bet thats the three in that film released in the 1950's - even though the squadron marking still seem wrong. More details on Operation Guzzle at
The strange tale of how Johnny became George | Dambusters Weblog (http://dambustersblog.com/2009/10/13/the-strange-tale-of-how-johnny-became-george/)
15th Jun 2012, 01:49
Thank you. Interesting!