In an exclusive interview, Les Munro, the last surviving pilot from the Dambusters raid of 16 and 17 May 1943, tells us about his fond memories of flying the aircraft that was chosen for the mission – the Lancaster.
The Lancaster was the only aircraft operational in the RAF at the time that was suitable for carrying the 9,000lb bouncing bomb designed for the Dambusters raid by Barnes Wallis. There were worries about the inherent risks of operating a heavy aircraft like the Lancaster through the dangerous manoeuvres required for the raid, but Les explains that, in fact, he found it decidedly easy to pilot.
"I enjoyed flying the Lancaster. In spite of altercations with people saying it was a very heavy aircraft to fly, I disagree – I think it was quite easy on the controls," explains Les. "I often liken it to driving a bus compared to a car – quite easy, quite safe and not cumbersome, but responsive."
The aircraft was a heavy bomber originally designed by Roy Chadwick at Avro for the RAF and modified with new bomb-holding equipment for the exceptional requirements of the raid. It was powered by four Rolls-Royce Merlin engines.
"I certainly remember the sound of the four Merlins – a magnificent sound. It gets very emotional to hear that sound."
This blog is dedicated to all the 55,573 men from Bomber Command who lost their lives in the Second World War.