17 May 2013

Flypast marks 70 years since Dambusters raid

7:11 am on 17 May 2013

A World War II Lancaster bomber has performed a flypast in northern England over a reservoir used for practice runs by the Dambusters for their raid into the industrial heartland of Germany 70 years ago.

The aircraft was joined on Thursday by two Spitfires and two modern-day Tornado jets as they flew over the Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire, where the Royal Air Force trialled a "bouncing bomb".

The devices, which bounced on water towards their target, were used to attack three dams in the Ruhr Valley either side of midnight on 16 May, 1943. The bombers had to fly at 60 feet (18 metres) above the ground.

Two of the dams were breached and the third was damaged.

Fifty six of the 133 airmen failed to return alive.

The Lancaster took off on Thursday from RAF Scampton airbase, the base where 19 bombers from 617 Squadron set off in darkness across northern Europe on their mission 70 years before.

The raid was seen as a morale boost for Britain at the time. However, its direct effect on the Nazi wartime economy has been downplayed by historians in recent decades.