Night of Heroes


The last peaceful night Dr. Barnes Wallace spent in his own house in Effingham, and in the morning, like all Englishmen, he heard a rather unusual question Chamberlain. What's in a position to do it, the aircraft Vickers offices to reduce the war? Unique ideas one after the other attended his head. Wallace wondered where and how the bombardment can cause critical damage to Germany. Military production dispersed, they can not kill in one fell swoop from the air. But, perhaps, are the main points?

Coal mines! Drifts and tunnels in hundredths meters underground invulnerable. Bombs will be able to bring down the mine shaft only, together with the lift, but the damage can be promptly returned.
Oil! Ploesti oil mines outside the acts of British aircraft. German production of ersatz gasoline are plentiful and perfectly protected. Also unclear purpose.
Hydroelectric power plants — "crisp white gold!" In Germany, there are three dams — Maine, Eder and Zorpe. All of the Ruhr industrial area, they might provide water and energy this large industrial complex. German industry required 8 tons of water to produce 1 ton of steel.

The dam forms a Maine lake, keeping the water level so that the barge with the ore and coal were free to approach the plants. Lake volume — more than 130 million tons of water. Eder dam locks the eponymous river, creating a reservoir of Eder. Zorpe forms a lake on a tributary of the Ruhr.
Dams are enormous. Men width of 34 meters at the base and 8 feet on the ridge has a height of 40 meters. 500-pound bomb just scratch the concrete. More of the high dam Zorpe, although it is composed of soil. Two large land in the center of the mound reinforced concrete wall.
Breakthrough dams not only kill the plant and deprive the plant of water and electricity. Large masses of water will rush down to the plains, sweeping away everything in its path highways, bridges, steel road.

Large dams can not be destroyed by ordinary bombs. Even a direct hit need a big explosive charge (estimated up to 30 tons), none of the RAF bombers did not rouse such ammunition. But ought to charge power can be structurally reduced, placing it well in space.

In 1-x, the entire volume of water trapped in the reservoir, the pressure on the dam and holds its structure in tension. Concrete works great for compression, but poorly resists stretching.
In-2, the explosion of water behaves as an incompressible medium. If the charge to undermine the good depth on the pressure side of the dam, then a significant portion of the shock had worn off in space, and will go into the wall, causing irreversible damage. Next, the flow of water completely dilute the dam.

All this is fine, Wallace thought … but there is a severe discrepancy. Man, Eder and Zorpe protivotorpednymi networks are protected, and that meant that the bomb must be accurately put into a narrow strip of space between these obstacles and the wall of the dam (which is not feasible), or find another method.


Motor declined during flight to Stuttgart and "Lancaster" could not maintain altitude. Guy Gibson lost order, but staying on the same course. Over Stuttgart, he gave full throttle 3 motors and bombed the target, ran back under the cover of darkness, clinging to the earth. It was the 173rd flight Gibson. He held the rank of lieutenant colonel of aviation and the Victoria Cross for flight awards. He was 25 years old.

On the same day Guy Penrose Gibson called the meeting to Ralph Cochrane, Deputy Marshal.
-First of all, I wish to congratulate you with the latest buckle your Order, Colonel.
— Thank you, sir.
-I can offer to make the next flight.
Gibson shrugged his shoulders and said, a little weary themselves;
— What kind of flight, sir?
— A very principled. At the moment I can not say anything. Except that: you will command the operation.
Gibson replied slowly:
— Yes … I think so, sir.

Cockpit Avro Lancaster

That's in March 1943, there was 617 Squadron RAF — an elite bomber squadron which account for the sinking of Tirpitz, the destruction of Saumur railway tunnel, the bombing of German bunkers, simulated marine convoy and of course, the operation Chastise, which is now be discussed.

Vickers Type 464

In 1943, on the basis of calculations of Barnes Wallace was made up of the German destruction of dikes from the air. Dr. Wallace decided puzzle, watching playing the children, forced to jump stones across the water. To achieve this effect, the bomb should give the rotation is still on board, "Lancaster" — after a reset, bouncing a couple of times on the water, it has no problems protivotorpednye overcame all obstacles, and then ricocheted off the parapet above-water dams, fell into the water on the pressure side.

Such a plan, in turn, gave rise to new challenges. According to the calculations needed to throw a bomb from a height of exactly 18.3 m, the distance to the goal at this point — 390 meters, speed — 240 miles / hour. "Lancaster" flew the distance in 4 seconds!

The distance was determined by simply resetting width of the dam was known (it resulted from aerial photographs), which made a simple optical rangefinder.
With the definition of the height was more difficult. Ordinary means — or barometric altimeter for this was not good — very low altitude. Found the perfect solution: the nose and tail of Lancaster installed two spotlights directed one — straight down the second — at a certain angle to the vertical beams intersect at a distance of 18.3 m from the aircraft. During flight spotlights gave two spots on the surface of water and adjusted thereon pilots flying height. When the spots merge — required height was achieved.

After class, 617 Squadron pilots managed without much difficulty withstanding the desired height on the combat course. But the great joy of the pilots did not have. When plane is perfectly well protected object at a height of 60 feet, the crew is very much at risk. And when enabled projectors …

Unique bomb Vickers Type 464 (aka — Upkeep) is a cylinder with a diameter of 1.5 meters and a weight of 4 tons, 2,997 kg of them had to torpeks. Before clearing the bomb spins up to 500 rev / min.

Flood Germany!

May 16, 1943 reconnaissance "Mosquito" returned with the freshest images of dams, water in MENA was only 4 feet from the crest. The reservoirs were filled with one hundred percent after the vernal snowmelt. A moonlit night to help pilots find the target.

Exactly at 21.10 the first 5 "Lancaster" went to take off. Just the other night on a mission flew 19 bomber. Each carried a bizarre ammunition and 96,000 rounds of .303 British. The banks of the UK slowly melted back.
Planes were flying to the target at a low altitude open systems. Flight route bypassed known positions of flak and night-fighter airfields. Still, planes Barlow and Byers on goal did not come. No one knew where they were shot down anti-aircraft guns.

The crew of the favorite first stormed the dam "Men": bomb successfully rolled on the discharge side, and it exploded. The dam has resisted. The purpose covered about 10 anti-aircraft guns, but "Lancaster" Gibson did not get damaged.

Once the water in the lake
calmed down, went on the attack crew Hopgood. Suddenly a reddish flame blossomed on the left wing tank, and for "Lancaster" reached a fiery plume. It seems scorer was killed, the bomb «Upkeeper» flown over the parapet and fell on the electronic substation. The plane's nose lifted desperately, gaining altitude, but awful orange flash swallowed "Lancaster", wings flew off, and the burning fuselage crashed into the ground, burying the pilots.

Third bomber got two shells into the wing, but was able to put your own «Upkeep» right on target. A new explosion rocked the dam. Lake boiled, snow-white in the column of water shot up to hundreds of meters in height. When the water calmed down, the dam was as before.

In the attack went fourth "Lancaster". The crew of "A Apple» headed for a direct hit, but dam withstood the blow, and in this time.
In the end, the crew went out on goal Matlbi. At this time, freed from bombs planes circled over the positions of anti-aircraft gunners with included parking lights and spotlights, trying to divert the attention of the Germans. When the wall of water had subsided, the concrete body of the dam at one point cracked and collapsed under the pressure of water. Millions of tons of water, foaming and hissing, rushed through the hole, multimeter water bank ran down the valley, sweeping away everything in its path.

The remaining aircraft were redirected to the dam, "Eder". The dam was in the folds of the hills, making it more difficult to attack, worse, in the plain was a fog. From 6 visits pilots could not hit the target. On entering the seventh bomb has worked without delay and the attacker "Lancaster" was destroyed by the explosion. The subsequent attack was to "Eder" fatal.

Before and after

Things were worse in the second wave of attacking the dam "Zorpe." Only a fifth bomber was able to storm the goal, but to no avail — the holes were not. Homes have been caused by three aircraft spare group. After several attacks, the pilots have gained hit — the dam is cracked, but all the same stand.
The remaining two spare aircraft were oriented to spare purposes: one unsuccessfully stormed the dam "Ennerpe" second plane was shot down anti-aircraft guns.

On the night of 19 "Lancaster", 9 did not return to base, killing 56 pilots.


According to the German archives, 19 bombers in a single flight killed two large dams, 7 railway bridges, 18 bridges, cars, 4 turbine power plants, 3 steam power plant, in the Ruhr valley were destroyed 11 factories, 114 companies were left without electricity.

Dams were rapidly restored, but not because of acquired damage was small. Urgent repairs only emphasizes the importance of which was represented by the dam for Germany, all the necessary human and material resources were immediately removed from other objects.

"Most flogging" (as translated specifically Chastise) operation became famous second world war, during which the Royal Air Force pilots have shown their own professionalism and desperate courage.

Like this post? Please share to your friends: