What was the short term significance of the Dam buster’s raid of 16th May 1943? The bouncing bomb was the first bomb in the War that could bounce across water and blow up the enemy dams. It was specifically designed to destroy the dams which were heavily protected by anti-aircraft guns and flak, as well as a special netting to prevent attacks from submarines. At first Barnes Wallis kept his new idea a secret and was testing it at home with his children using small bouncing balls and a bucket full of water. Later on, after his bouncing technique had a positive outcome, Wallis and the Air Ministry had designed and tested a "bouncing bomb" which had the codename 'Upkeep'. After showing it to The Chief of the Air Staff, he ordered Barnes Wallis to prepare the bouncing bombs which would be used to destroy 3 German dams, Mohne dam, Eder dam, and Sorpe dam. They wanted to destroy the dams so it would leave the German factories with ought water supply and they hoped it would help end the war faster. It would not be easy though, as the test showed that the bouncing bomb would need to be dropped from 60 feet at an angle of 7 degrees from the horizontal, have a ground speed of 220mph and was spun backwards. If this was achieved the bomb would bounce across the water towards the target and come into contact with the dam. It would then sink to the bottom of the water and from the pressure of the water it would cause the bombs to explode, destroying the dam in the process. This planned attack was called “Operation Chastise” and took place on the 16-17 May 1943 by the 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force.
From the 617 Squadron, out of the 133 men who took part, 53 were killed representing 40% of deaths and 3 were captured. Five of the Lancaster’s crashed or were shot down on route to their targets. Two were destroyed whilst executing their attacks and another was shot down on the way home. Two more were so badly damaged that they had to abandon their missions.
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