617sqn Tornado GR4The 70th anniversary of one of the Second World War’s most audacious bombing missions will be commemorated by a special flypast at this summer’s Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in the Cotswolds.

The announcement comes on the same day (May 16) in 1943 that the RAF’s elite 617 Sqn took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire and headed for Germany’s Ruhr dams for what was to become known as the legendary Dambusters Raid.

The attack was made memorable for using specially developed ‘bouncing bombs’, invented by aircraft designer Barnes Wallis. These were dropped from Lancaster bombers at low altitude and skipped along the surface of the water into the dams.

Whilst the mission to flood the heavily industrialised area of the Ruhr and destroy the dams’ hydro-electric power capability is now considered to have been only a partial success, the bravery and audacity of those involved assured its place in military aviation history.

Today (Thursday, May 16), to mark the anniversary, the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) Lancaster and two Tornado GR4s from 617 Sqn will fly over Derwent Reservoir in Derbyshire and Eyebrook Reservoir in the East Midlands, both of which were used for low level flying practice by the original Dambusters crews.
At this summer’s Air Tattoo, which takes place on July 20-21, the BBMF Lancaster, one of only two in the world that are still airworthy, will once again fly alongside a specially painted, modern day Tornado GR4 from the legendary 617 ‘Dambusters’ Squadron.

Air Tattoo Chief Executive Tim Prince said: “The Dambusters Raid was an incredible feat not only in terms of what it was aiming to achieve but also in the way in which it was looking to achieve it.

“The courage and skill of all those involved served as an inspiration to a nation ravaged by war and this courage and skill lives on in the men and women of today’s 617 Squadron who help provide vital protection to allied ground forces in Afghanistan.”

A second specially painted Tornado GR4 will be on display in the Air Tattoo’s static aircraft park offering visitors the opportunity to see it close up.

The Royal International Air Tattoo takes place at RAF Fairford on July 20-21. For a full list of all the visitor opportunities and to purchase tickets, visit airtattoo.com or call 0800 107 1940. All under-16s go free. Free parking.