Military Review

"Dam Destroyers": how British pilots tried to paralyze Hitler's war industry

44
"Dam Destroyers": how British pilots tried to paralyze Hitler's war industry

This operation of the British Royal Air Force remained in stories codenamed Chastise. The meaning of this English word is translated “punishment”, “punishment” or “flogging”.


The operation was carried out by British pilots from the 617th squadron on May 17, 1943. Subsequently, this unit received the unofficial name of Dambusters (dam destroyers) and began to be used to deliver high-precision strikes on enemy infrastructure.

Operation Chastise


With the help of specially designed “jumping bombs” they managed to break through the dams of the hydroelectric power plants on the rivers Eder and Myeon, as well as slightly damage the dam in Zorp. By the way, the dam in Myeon at that time was considered the largest in Europe.

As a result of the air raid at the hydroelectric station, about one and a half thousand people died, mostly foreign workers who were forcibly stolen to Germany. Water washed away several settlements, mines, factories and airfields of the Ruhr region. Other businesses also suffered. They were cut off from the routes of delivery of raw materials and materials, and also deprived of the supply of electricity. The breakthrough of dams adversely affected the German economy. The German war machine felt its consequences until the very end of the war.

19 British bombers took part in the bombing, of which eight did not return to base. Details of the operation are preserved thanks to the memoirs of the commander of the 617th squadron Guy Gibson. Although he died in 1944, before he reached the victory, he managed to manage to describe this very famous British air raid aviation times of the second world war. The Minister of War Industry and Armaments of the Third Reich Albert Speer, mentioning this operation, praised its negative significance for Germany:

With just a few bombers, the British came close to accomplishing their mission and achieved much greater success than when they sent thousands of planes to bomb.

The game of "pancakes"


The creator of this unique Royal Air Force operation was British aircraft engineer Barnes Wallis. The main highlight was the design of the bomb itself and the method of its use.

It was quite difficult to blow up the dam. Not only because it was durable, but also because of the protective anti-torpedo nets installed on the dams.

As told in the BBC, Wallis figured out how to get around the defense, remembering how in childhood he played "pancakes" on the shore of a pond. This game is also known in Russia. You just need to run a flat stone parallel to the water so that it bounces repeatedly, touching its surface.

The engineer figured out how to make a five-ton drum-shaped bomb slide over the surface of the water. Before dropping, a special engine spun the bomb, it, bouncing on the surface, reached the dam, and then rolled down it to the depths, touching the dam, and there it exploded. True, this principle was not disclosed in Gibson's book for reasons of secrecy.

For the idea to work, the bombs should be dropped at a precisely calculated distance from the dam and low altitude. In this case, the aircraft must move at a certain speed. To fulfill these conditions, specially designed devices were used. For example, the height was determined by the convergence at one point of two rays of searchlights mounted on the nose and tail of the aircraft.

It was necessary to fly in a straight line at a speed of 390 kilometers per hour, not paying attention to the fire of German anti-aircraft guns, at an altitude of 18 meters with bombs suspended under the fuselage. This was a difficult and dangerous task.

Preparation and implementation of the operation


To complete the mission, British-made Avro Lancaster Mk III bombers were selected. These excellent aircraft had two significant flaws. They were not able to climb to great heights, and their defensive weapons were extremely weak. But both of these minuses did not interfere with the successful completion of the task.

Lieutenant Colonel Guy Gibson, who at that time was only 25 years old, formed crews from the same as he, young, but already experienced combat pilots. They prepared for the operation for several weeks.

And finally, on May 17, 1943, this famous air raid took place. 19 “Lancaster” at low altitude in three waves moved towards the Ruhr. One of them, touching the sea surface, lost his bomb, so he had to return. Two more planes flying over the Netherlands caught hold of power lines and crashed. Another German gun shot down on the road.

And although in the end the British lost eight aircraft, they managed to achieve the goal and flood the valley.

Was the operation successful?


There is no consensus on whether the bombing can be called successful.

For example, Reich Minister Albert Speer recalled that the Germans managed to restore the dam by October 1943. At the same time, he was surprised that the British aviation did not prevent the restoration work, which was much easier than breaking through the dams.

On the other hand, the bombing did not harm the enemy’s manpower, but led to the death of prisoners of war and forced laborers driven from all over Europe.

The purpose of the air raid was completely different. The task was to drain the water from the reservoirs, drain the shipping channels, cut off the supply of electricity to the enterprises. In other words, the British planned to paralyze the work of the German war industry.

And for some time they succeeded, and in the conditions of warfare it meant a lot.

Be that as it may, Guy Gibson and the other pilots from the 617th Royal Air Force squadron did everything possible to bring the victory over the Nazis closer. At least that's what the Western press writes. Lieutenant Colonel Guy Gibson then managed to stay alive. But the very next year he died in an air battle. And the squadron headed by him went down in history under the name "Dam Destroyers".
Photos used:
https://ru.wikipedia.org/Bundesarchiv
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  1. Aaron Zawi
    Aaron Zawi 13 July 2020 17: 18 New
    18
    Eternal memory to all those who fell in battles with Nazism.
  2. Prisoner
    Prisoner 13 July 2020 17: 29 New
    -5
    Fifteen hundred prisoners of war and civilians! what The British are far from gentlemen in the conduct of hostilities.
    1. neri73-r
      neri73-r 13 July 2020 17: 34 New
      -5
      Quote: Captive
      The British are far from gentlemen in the conduct of hostilities.

      They are gentlemen only among themselves, the rest are people of the second and third grade!
      1. Prisoner
        Prisoner 13 July 2020 17: 42 New
        -5
        That is yes. The bombing of Dresden, the attack by Anglo-Saxon amers on Jerosima and Nagasaki, the war with weddings and hospitals in Afghanistan. War criminals however.
    2. svp67
      svp67 13 July 2020 17: 52 New
      15
      Quote: Captive
      The British are far from gentlemen in the conduct of hostilities.

      Простите, но у войны своя цена... А сколько погибло наших людей, в том числе и гражданских, при уничтожении нашими войсками того же ДнепрГЭСа? Или мы и так на "джентльменов" не тянем?
      Victory in particular and war has a terrible price and this is worth remembering.
      Test Frames ...

      And about the operation itself ...
      1. Prisoner
        Prisoner 13 July 2020 18: 11 New
        -5
        I heard about the Dnieper hydroelectric power station myth .ua with amazing constancy drives them. And the liberals are not far behind. Only all these are dirty tales.
        1. svp67
          svp67 13 July 2020 18: 12 New
          11
          Quote: Captive
          Only all these are dirty tales.

          Ну, ну... какие ж Вы не желающие знать неудобной для Вас правды. И взрыв в Инкерманских каменоломнях, и пожар Крещатика, после взрыва наших мин замедленного действия , тоже "грязные сказки", и комсомольцы-диверсанты не жгли дома людей в подмосковье, лютой осенью и зимой 41-го?
          Тут вон в Подмосковной Рузе плотинку на ставке фабричном прорвало, так сколько бед вода натворила, а это подрыв огромной плотины и очень быстрый сброс воды водохранилища, а рядом остров Хортица, где люди жили, часть Запорожья, где вдоль берега тоже народ обживался и ниже по течению веками жил, вдоль русла Днепра..."грязные сказки". Так объясните мне когда и где мы потеряли свыше 26 000 000 своих людей?
          1. Moskovit
            Moskovit 13 July 2020 22: 01 New
            11
            Where did you lose 26 million? Yes, read about the bombing of Stalingrad on August 23, 1942. My wife’s grandfather came home from work, and a funnel was in place of the house. Fortunately, the family had gone to relatives before that ... and how many were those who were unlucky.
            Or, for example, in front of her grandmother's eyes, the Germans stabbed their elderly neighbor, who hid the honey in the barn, with bayonets.
            The whole country will tell you such stories.
    3. Victor67
      Victor67 13 July 2020 17: 55 New
      -12
      The rest were all gentlemen))) Especially the Wehrmacht, they will drive the village into the barn and burn everyone alive, along with the children and the elderly. The British did not see who was being bombed, they received a card, they signed and received it in advance. Or do you think ours particularly bothered when taking cities in Europe about civilians? I remember this stupid agitation, where the Soviet army cook in Berlin cooks porridge and calls for German teenagers to eat from the basement, those, putting aside the faustpatrons to the side, go out to devour the invaders, scream !!!
      1. Kronos
        Kronos 14 July 2020 14: 03 New
        0
        Yes, no agitation, really fed the Germans
        1. Victor67
          Victor67 14 July 2020 19: 22 New
          +3
          You may have been fed, and my grandfather burned these kids with a flamethrower from the basements, these beautiful children and their disgusting grandfathers fired at our fighters from the FP, hunting rifles and everything that was at hand. Colossal losses were already suffered after May 8th. It’s a pity that not everyone decided, the Siberians would have settled there, there would have been no problem now (only Mercedes would have been gone))) The Frenchmen were also defending themselves from the SS, but they shot immediately, even with their hands up, these were all gentlemen ...
    4. Sergey M. Karasev
      Sergey M. Karasev 13 July 2020 18: 37 New
      16
      Про военнопленных англичане могли и не знать. А насчёт гражданских... А немцы сильно церемонились с гражданскими, когда Лондон бомбили и Ковентри в пыль разносили? глагол to coventry в значении "уничтожить", "стереть в пыль" в английском от хорошей жизни появился? Как аукнется, так и откликнется!
      1. Revolver
        Revolver 13 July 2020 21: 06 New
        -1
        Quote: Sergey Mikhailovich Karasev
        глагол to coventry в значении "уничтожить", "стереть в пыль" в английском

        There's no such thing. How many I live in America, I have not heard or read this.
        1. Sergey M. Karasev
          Sergey M. Karasev 14 July 2020 02: 00 New
          +6
          He is in British English.
    5. Alf
      Alf 13 July 2020 21: 19 New
      +4
      Quote: Captive
      Fifteen hundred prisoners of war and civilians!

      This is a very controversial issue and a very fine line. But in general, in a war, especially in a world war, is there a concept of civilians? Locksmith collecting tank-peaceful or not? And the tram driver taking this locksmith to the factory?
      1. Kronos
        Kronos 14 July 2020 14: 04 New
        -1
        The Nazis also said so when supporting partisans killed the population
  3. fa2998
    fa2998 13 July 2020 17: 29 New
    +9
    Brilliant idea, unique equipment, successful application. Successful operation! The British, this time -5+. soldier hi
    It was necessary to use a large number of aircraft, the effect would be catastrophic. To leave the metal industry, Ruhr without water means to stop. Re-apply, the Germans strengthened their air defense.
    1. Avior
      Avior 13 July 2020 18: 04 New
      0
      As I understand it, piece bombs were made, you won’t get a big circulation
  4. Igoresha
    Igoresha 13 July 2020 17: 29 New
    +5
    Фотка зачетная. В пиратских закромах родины имеется отличный двухчасовый худ.фильм 1955 года "Разрушители плотин" https://kino-o-voine.ru/razrushiteli-plotin-1955/
    where it is meticulously shown how the operation was prepared and how it went, even such trifles as a built hangar for testing a life-size bomb model.
  5. jekasimf
    jekasimf 13 July 2020 17: 33 New
    -12
    Let me guess. Who were the prisoners of war and from where the civilians were hijacked to work in these factories. If the British would be sure they would not bomb.
  6. Pavel57
    Pavel57 13 July 2020 17: 38 New
    0
    The British did not replicate success, for fear of losing the monopoly on the bomb against the dams.
  7. Engineer
    Engineer 13 July 2020 17: 42 New
    22
    For example, Reich Minister Albert Speer recalled that the Germans managed to restore the dam by October 1943. At the same time, he was surprised that the British aviation did not prevent the restoration work, which was much easier than breaking through the dams.

    Speer also wrote that the destruction of Zorpe would have brought the greatest damage, but there the British did not fartanulo
    The British did not bomb the reconstruction area because they believed that now the Germans were pulling everything they could there, both anti-aircraft guns and fighters.
    Гибсон отлетал уже два "тура" к моменту назначения командиром. От перевода на инструкторскую должность отказывался. Полугодовой отпуск в который его хотели "выпнуть" провел в ночных истебителях. А его книга- возможно лучшая в жанре мемуаров ВМВ на мой взгляд.

    Be that as it may, Guy Gibson and the other pilots from the 617th Royal Air Force squadron did everything possible to bring the victory over the Nazis closer. At least that’s what the Western press writes.

    So why are there such reservations? Some nasty impression remains.
    Is there any doubt that they did everything? If anything, the 617th squadron is the absolute champion among the aviation units in damage to the Germans.
    1. Avior
      Avior 13 July 2020 18: 00 New
      13
      I agree with you
      These remarks are out of place in this story.
  8. Evgenijus
    Evgenijus 13 July 2020 18: 50 New
    12
    Currently, the dam in Edersee is functioning for its intended purpose. A power plant is operating, producing energy. In addition, the dam is a pilgrimage site for many Germans and visitors to Germany. It pushes the people there - darkness. Stands with photos of the dam after its destruction were installed. Very beautiful area. In terms of the size of the dam, you cannot immediately say that it can be destroyed, the thought goes only to the atomic bomb. But they destroyed it. The article omits the details of this operation. Not the first time managed to destroy the dam. The pilots are heroes, they went to the dam through a lead shower of bullets and hot steel fragments. Eternal memory to the dead ...
    I have photos about that trip to the dam, if anyone is interested, so try to find it on the computer.
    1. Engineer
      Engineer 13 July 2020 19: 44 New
      10
      If necessary, lay out necessarily.
      Readers after reading such articles do not really understand what, in fact, is heroism.
      For example, the British entered the Myung Dam in turn, dropping from a great height, maintaining the same course and excess above water. This created the Germans comfortable conditions for exercises in shooting from anti-aircraft guns.
      One of the crews bombing Zorpe reached the target 9 times (!!!), trying to break through the fog. In the end, he dropped incendiary bombs and managed to bomb them.
      1. Evgenijus
        Evgenijus 15 July 2020 09: 36 New
        0
        General view of the dam:
      2. Evgenijus
        Evgenijus 15 July 2020 09: 45 New
        0
        Episode from the big story:

        " ...— Генри, Генри, хэлло. «Z Зебра», как вы?
        There was no answer. He made the call again, and just incredibly, but from the darkness a perfectly calm voice said:
        - I think everything is fine ... wait ... [129]
        Everyone heard this: Gibson, Shannon, Knight. They marveled, how is this possible? After this, Gibson called Maudsley again, but there were no more answers. Maudsley did not return.
        Gibson said:
        — О'кей, Дэвид. Ты атакуешь.
        Shannon made another run and missed again. He described another circle, dived into the darkness. This time everything went smoothly, the plane came out of the peak above the water itself and rushed to the dam. He quickly found the desired height and correctly dropped the bomb. Shannon abruptly threw the plane to the side above the mountain spur. Under the parapet, the bomb threw a familiar fountain of white foam. When he fell down, Gibson, diving to the water, saw that the dam was standing. Only Knight remained. He had the last bomb. Gibson ordered him to attack.
        Knight made his first run and, of course, missed. New approach. Failure again.
        “Follow the moonlit path and dive to the limit, Forest,” said Shannon. He gave some more radio advice that Knight listened carefully to. He was a young Australian, a teetotaler, his main occupation in the evenings was writing letters home and painting. He dived once more. Now everything turned out perfectly, he dropped the bomb as it should. Everyone saw a surge. And after a second, the lake rose. Gibson bent down to see better, and saw ... A wall of water rushed from a hole in the dam and rushed along the valley in an all-devastating stream.
        Knight was indescribable delight, he let out a wild cry, which the radio obediently conveyed to the rest, and only then guessed to turn off the transmitter. Replicas of the crew also went on the air, and they were extremely expressive.
        It was even more fantastic than in Myeon. The gap in the dam turned out to be huge, and more than 200 million tons of water poured through it. The Eder Valley was cooler, and the pilots silently watched the foaming shaft fly through the valley, wriggling like a snake. Its speed was not less than 30 ft / sec. They saw a car trying to escape [130] from the water. Only the headlights were visible, frightenedly twitching in the dark. But the car lost the race. Foam overtook him, the headlights glowed green for a moment, and then went out.
        Hutchinson handed over the dinghy to the morse code. It was a code signal that the dam of Eder was destroyed. When he finished, Gibson said:
        — О'кей. Всем самолетам отбой. Полюбовались и хватит. Двинули домой.
        The sound of their motors slowly subsided between the hills as they flew backward.
        МакКарти летел к дамбе Зорпе в одиночку, виляя между холмов к югу от Мёна. Долины были полны тумана, поэтому прошло много времени, прежде чем он сумел определиться с местом. Озеро тускло отсвечивало сквозь дымку, и он узнал его очертания, вспомнив учебную модель. "

        I don’t know whether it is permissible to put the whole story in the form of a comment?
    2. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 14 July 2020 11: 29 New
      +4
      Quote: Evgenijus
      The article omits the details of this operation. Not the first time managed to destroy the dam. The pilots are heroes, they went to the dam through a lead shower of bullets and hot steel fragments.

      Only two digits. Wallace’s spinning bomb drop is 60 feet (18,3 m) above water level. The discharge range (from the crest of the dam) is 425 yards (388,6 m).
      And all this must be done on a four-engine bomber under the fire of anti-aircraft guns, having withstood the height and range of discharge - and without crashing into the dam when leaving the attack.
  9. Revolver
    Revolver 13 July 2020 21: 12 New
    +5
    The main thing is that they damaged the power plants. Aluminum cannot be melted without electricity. Someone Willy Messerschmitt, obviously not from a good life, was seriously developing a wooden wing for the next modification of Bf.109. Of course, it would not fly ah, but nevertheless it was able to fly and shoot. It didn’t go into the series just because the Americans captured the plant, the design bureau, and Willy Messerschmitt personally.
    1. Avior
      Avior 13 July 2020 22: 45 New
      +1
      One of the important advantages of the ME109 was precisely its metal strength, which made it possible to achieve high speed during a dive.
      Perhaps wooden ones would
    2. Alf
      Alf 13 July 2020 22: 47 New
      +3
      Quote: Nagan
      The series did not go

      Но, тем не менее, деревянный хвост Мессершмитт все-таки присобачил на G14 и K. Причем, что характерно, никто из "икспердов" его за это не материт, в отличии от советских истребителей из дерева.
      1. Revolver
        Revolver 14 July 2020 00: 58 New
        +2
        Ну ессно, "рус фанер". Лавочкин изначально мог бы спроектировать Ла-9, только делать его было бы банально не из чего - алюминия и до войны не хватало, а как немцы захватили мощности на Украине, стало совсем хреново, и было хреново пока не наладились поставки по ленд-лизу. Поликарпов попробовал сделать цельнометаллический И-185, даже сделали опытную серию, испытали на фронте, и все - и летчики, и командование дали наилучшие отзывы типа что это то, что надо фронту. Но дальше не пошло, и во многом из-за нехватки алюминия.
        1. Alf
          Alf 14 July 2020 18: 17 New
          +1
          Quote: Nagan
          and largely due to a lack of aluminum.

          And the motor.
          1. Revolver
            Revolver 14 July 2020 19: 44 New
            +1
            Quote: Alf
            And the motor.

            It seems that they later shoved the M-82 into it, the same as in La-5. But this did not solve the problem of the all-metal glider.
            1. Alf
              Alf 14 July 2020 20: 58 New
              +1
              Quote: Nagan
              It seems that they later shoved the M-82 into it, the same as in La-5.

              And they got the same LA-5, a little better, but not so much.
              1. Alexey RA
                Alexey RA 15 July 2020 09: 58 New
                0
                Quote: Alf
                And they got the same LA-5, a little better, but not so much.

                EMNIP, the superiority of the I-185 over the La-5 (with the same engines) was within the limits of the performance drop in the transition from prototypes to the series.
  10. Cristall
    Cristall 13 July 2020 22: 49 New
    +1
    go almost to certain death under the fire of anti-aircraft guns, without changing course, height and speed ..
    For the sake of one moment and dropping a bomb at that moment.
    The pilots had no experience and courage.
    So what did the British understand in aviation .. They survived on it, and won on it (and the fleet).
    Without the resources of a land country, they squeezed the maximum out of their advantages.
    In general, there you can safely make a film no worse than PX.
    About the loss of civilian prisoners. The Germans had them everywhere, as I understand it, it was necessary to do nothing.
    Then the Germans would love to use a human shield everywhere.
  11. Fitter65
    Fitter65 14 July 2020 00: 47 New
    +3
    British-made Avro Lancaster Mk III bombers. These excellent aircraft had two significant flaws. They were not able to climb to great heights,
    The maximum flight altitude of Lancaster is 8160 meters; Handley Page Halifax is 7315 m. Short Stirling is 5030 m. Of all four RAF engines that were in service, Lancaster was the highest
    1. Alf
      Alf 14 July 2020 18: 20 New
      +2
      Quote: Fitter65
      British-made Avro Lancaster Mk III bombers. These excellent aircraft had two significant flaws. They were not able to climb to great heights,
      The maximum flight altitude of Lancaster is 8160 meters; Handley Page Halifax is 7315 m. Short Stirling is 5030 m. Of all four RAF engines that were in service, Lancaster was the highest

      You're right. But can a bomber climb the ceiling with bombs?
      Wheatley at the beginning of the war went to Naples, but with bombs had to fly through the mountains, although the ceiling at the Old Lady is also 8 thousand.
      1. Fitter65
        Fitter65 15 July 2020 00: 37 New
        0
        Quote: Alf
        the ceiling of the Old Lady is also 8 thousand.

        То что но потолок с полной нагрузкой подымется не подымется-это другой вопрос. Начнём с того что увеличивая бомбовую нагрузку уменьшаем дальность, но увеличивая количество топлива-то есть повышая дальность мы уменьшаем бомбовую нагрузку, учитывая что топливо в процессе полёта вырабатывается, самолёт облегчается, возможность забраться на максимальную высоту увеличивается. У "Старой Леди" Мк Iа которая выпускалась с 1940 года, максимальный потолок был, по разным данным, от 5030 до 5486 метров. А летели они через Альпы по той причине что горы были выше максимального потолка.
  12. iouris
    iouris 14 July 2020 20: 50 New
    0
    Лётчики пытались сбросить груз и долететь обратно. "Парализовать" не получалось не очень. Воевать на земле тоже. Польша и Берлин взяты русскими "Советами".
  13. Miray
    Miray 18 July 2020 17: 29 New
    0
    Книги: Пол Брикхилл "Разрушители плотин"
    Гай Гибсон "Впереди вражеский берег"
    Everything is freely available on the militer.
    Brikhilaa's book is about the history of 617 Squadron in general. Only volunteers went there, and among the English pilots she was known as a squadron of suicides.
    True, the very first composition was recruited voluntarily-forcibly, but everyone could refuse.