Flypast marks Dambuster anniversary
Published 16/05/2013 | 15:42
Hundreds of well-wishers gathered at Derwent Reservoir to watch a flypast by a Lancaster bomber to mark the 70th anniversary of the war-time Dambuster raids.
A Mark X1X spitfire flew over the historic twin towers of the 183m dam followed by the Lancaster, both from the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It was followed by two tornado GR4s from the current 617 squadron.
The dam, in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, was used by the airmen for practice runs in the weeks leading up to the daring raids of May 16-17, 1943.
Members of the public, some flying Union flags, climbed up to 300m in nearby woodland to get a vantage point from which to watch the historic spectacle.
The spitfires represented reconnaissance flights carried out before and after the raids, which took place during the Second World War. The Lancaster represented the 19 bombers of the 617 squadron, which was specifically formed just two months before the top-secret mission, codenamed Operation Chastise.
The aircraft continued on to nearby Chatsworth House to carry out a flypast for members of the public who had gathered at the stately home.
The raid, carried out by 133 airmen in 19 Lancaster bombers, was an attempt to cripple a major part of the Nazi war economy by carrying out attacks on three dams in the industrial heartland of Germany.
Fifty-six of the men did not return from the mission, which required them to fly the Lancaster bombers at just 60ft above the ground - incredibly low when compared with the 250ft aircraft must fly at nowadays - in the dark across northern Europe.
The mission, which flew out of RAF Scampton, near Lincoln, was led by wing commander Guy Gibson and was credited with boosting morale across Britain.
The planes, armed with scientist Dr Barnes Wallis's bouncing bombs, flew to the Ruhr Valley either side of midnight on May 16.