Menu Donate Request our help

Without the Lancaster there would have been no raid

Mary, daughter, Barnes Wallis, explains why she thinks Roy Chadwick is the unsung hero of the Dambusters operation.

Chadwick was the designer of the Lancaster, the aircraft used in the Dambusters raid, and principal designer at its manufacturer, Avro.

One of some twenty aircraft specially built to carry the Upkeep bomb on Operation Chastise. Photograph used by permission of the Imperial War Museums."I don't think anybody ever gives Chadwick from Avro his due," says Mary. "BNW said to Chadwick, 'the Lancaster can't carry a bomb this size, please do something' and Chadwick just got it done," says Mary.

The Lancaster was a heavy bomber aircraft that was capable of carrying out the raid, but it still wasn’t designed to carry a bomb the size and weight required to blow a hole in the side of a dam.

Chadwick was the only man who knew the Lancaster design well enough to make the appropriate changes, and with the days counting down to the raid’s tight operational window, he had limited time to do it in.

"He didn’t ask anybody; there was no red tape. He just said, 'Well, you alter this, that and the other' and – done, twenty Lancasters in three weeks. Not bad. That's hardly ever mentioned and I'm sorry about that because as my father knew perfectly well when he wrote to him afterwards, without that there would have been no raid; it could not have been done."

This blog is dedicated to the memory of Flight Sergeant Thomas Johnston, a bomb aimer with 617 Squadron on the Dambuster raid, who was killed in action on May 17, 1943.

Visit the Dambusters homepage

0800 169 2942

Sign up to receive the RAFBF e-newsletter