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Twelve Lancasters: Bomb Drop Training

Les Munro, the last remaining pilot to have flown in the Dambusters raid of 16 and 17 May 1943, explained in an exclusive interview with the RAF Benevolent Fund, the dangers that were involved in the bomb drop training.

"Twelve Lancasters took part in the test drops over three days; 11 – 13 May," says Les. "Out of that 12, I understand that six of the aircrafts were damaged from the splash created when the Upkeep bomb hit the water."

Barnes Wallis' 9,000lb bouncing bomb, given the operational name Upkeep, had to be dropped from a height so close to the water (60ft) that the powerful splash it created was able to damage the aircraft.

The fear of splash damage to aircrafts was one of the reasons that the bombs were given backspin before being dropped as it slowed the bomb down, buying the pilots enough time to make their escape before it exploded in the water beneath them.

The squadron's bomb drop training was held over bodies of water in several locations around the UK. To simulate the night time conditions of the raid when training in daylight, the windows of the specially modified Lancaster aircrafts were covered in blue Perspex.

This blog is dedicated to all the 55,573 men from Bomber Command who lost their lives in the Second World War, including the 53 men who did so during the Dambusters raid of 16 and 17 May 1943.

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