WW2 RAF 617 “Dambuster” Raid Over the Ruhr: The Complete Story

How the Story Unfolded

Perhaps the most intriguing story of WW2 was the invention of the “Dambuster” – bombs used by the RAF in a raid against German dams in the Ruhr valley.

Dambusters came to the fore when Britain encountered problems with its plan to destroy key dams supplying power to the German War machine.

Raf 617 Dambuster raid on Ruhr Dam

Dropping a bomb on a narrow dam is nearly impossible to do. Basically, the bomb will be of no use if it doesn’t drop straight down and hit the edge of the dam.

The only other way the RAF could have destroyed the dam was to fire a torpedo through the water into the side of the dam. But the Germans had erected torpedo nets which made destroying a dam that way, nearly impossible.

This is when British aircraft designer Barnes Wallis came up with a very unorthodox solution.

 

The Dambuster

Wallis’ idea was to package the bomb in a unique delivery system, drop it out of a plane and have it skip it across the water, rather than sink into it, until it hit the dam’s structure and detonated.

Wallace’s final design was a cylindrical bomb, nicknamed a “dambuster” which was 50 inches in diameter, 60 inches long and filled with 6600 pounds of powerful explosives.

 

Once the bomb had been extensively tested and was ready for use, it was decided it would be used in a raid against four dams in the Ruhr.

RAF 617 Squadron

To carry out the mission, a unique RAF squadron was formed, the 617 Squadron, made up of pilots specially chosen for this operation from other units.

 

It was determined that each RAF bomber had to fly at 220 miles per hour, 60 feet above the water.  At a distance of 425 yards from the dam,  the bomb would be dropped.  The bomb was mounted on a pivot and prior to its release, was spun at over 500 RPM by a small motor built into the bomb.

It was crucial that the dambuster rotated backwards.

If it struck the dam, rotating forward, the bomb would simply go up and over the dam to the other side and blow up without causing any harm.  Therefore, the bombs were designed to rotate backwards.

This would make the dambuster bomb go down into the water and after it bounced across the water, like a skimming stone, it would blow up when it struck the dam.

 

During the night raid over the Ruhr on March 16th 1943, RAF 617 Squadron successfully used the dambusters to breach two dams and damage the third.

RAF 617 Dambusters Squadron

The Iconic Irvin Shearling B3 Flying Jacket

The iconic Irvin B3 Shearling Flying Jacket became the favorite jacket of WW2 pilots.  They were often flying in unheated cockpits and planes and they needed a thick jacket that was hard-wearing and warm.  The Irvin B3 Shearling Flying Jacket ticked the boxes and it was one of those jackets that the more you wore it, the softer the leather became and the more it fitted your particular shape.

You can have your own retro style Irvin B3 Shearling Flying Jacket by following the link to our amazon affiliate store.  It’s made of durable leather and lined with soft but warm lamb fur.  It has a single heavy duty brass zip fastening and waist straps to adjust for the perfect fit.  You’ll also find hand warmer pockets hidden neatly at each side of the jacket.

 

 

 image credit: /wikipedia/commons/9/9e/Bundesarchiv_Bild_183-C0212-0043012,_Edertalsperre,_Zerst%C3%B6rung.jpg  

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