80th ANNIVERSARY “DAM BUSTERS RAID” 16th-17th May 2023

16th-17th May 2023

With the simulator it is possible to recreate an actual raid and fly it in real time. This is what we did on the 16th-17th  May 2023. The raid is well documented but to fly it accurately a lot of research had to be undertaken to get all the correct times and waypoints. After much research and a bit of luck we came across the actual navigation log used by David Maltby who’s bomb actually breached the dam.

Initial planning. It took about 2 years to research the raid to get everything in place then we met in the only place appropriate for such an event, the 617 officers mess, that was, at the Petwood Hotel in Lincolnshire.

The crew would be  Myself, skipper, My son Will, flight engineer, Squadron Leader Andy Marson, navigator and Bob as radio operator.

The simulator is situated in Dorset so a plan of action was formulated to get everyone together on the 16th May and ready for action with accommodation at the local Inn !

Dam Busters Raid
Dam Busters Raid

As per the real thing, pre- flight briefing and preparations were made. We had the way points, distances & bearings plus the 4 known times and positions we had to hit to simulate the actual raid accurately. Take off, crossing the enemy coast, over the dam and crossing the enemy coast on return to England.

For authenticity, original copies of engineers and navigator’s logs were used along with plotting charts so that all details could be accurately followed.

Dam Busters Raid

Here we have a section of the actual bomb aimers chart that was used on the raid showing the dam and Mohne lake clearly identified.

You can see the spit on the right hand side that would be our crossing point on the run up to the dam.

Dam Busters Raid

This is a wartime photo of the Mohne Dam before it was breached in 1943.

Within our software we had someone update current scenery so that we had similar flak towers to those shown.

Dam Busters Raid

Ultimately, the simulator will use projectors but for the raid we jury rigged TV screens to enable us to operate. Above can be seen approaching Southwold on the outbound leg after taking off from Scampton and flying over the Wash.

Below is a diagrammatic chart showing the various routes taken. We followed the route of the 1st wave. On the night we used wartime plotting charts and local maps of Holland to plot the route. From known descriptions we were able to identify, bends in rivers, canals, and the various landmarks on route.

Dam Busters Raid

The original crews on the night had an average age of 23, ours was 61 and that was artificially low due to my son being only 31 !

With this in mind and allowing for the lack of visibility of the ground at night using the scenery package we initially had we did fly slightly higher across the sea and land until nearer the dam. That said timing was critical to arrive over the dam at the correct time and light conditions.

Our navigator, Sqn Ldr Andy Marson worked wonders to get us over the enemy coast within 6 seconds of the original time and over the dam to the minute.

With both myself and son Will being pilots we were able to adjust speed as required by Andy at about 10 minute intervals to make sure that we were on time for all the various way points.

I flew the heading and height, my son operated the throttles to obtain the correct speed given by Andy.

Bob, the radio operator, checked on the intercom every 15 mins to ensure all was correct and on point.

Dam Busters Raid
Dam Busters Raid

This was the first sight we had on the run up to the Mohne.

Dam Busters Raid

The final run in 60 feet above the water and at the correct speed ! The dam can just be seen in front. A very emotional moment for all on board as we flew across the water and over the dam.

On the return leg my son flew and I became the flight engineer.

We arrived back at Scampton and landed as did the original crew.

We had missed a night sleep but had re flown the Dams raid exactly 80 years after the original and with Andy’s help kept within 6 seconds of the original flight !

After a bit of catchup sleep we reconvened to the local 16th Century Inn for a de brief before returning home.

In summary:…

We flew an iconic raid very accurately after a lot of research in a full size Lancaster simulator. A sortie all four of us will remember.

It is possible for anyone, if necessary with our help, to re fly a sortie either of historical interest or one flown originally by a late member of the family.

You just need to research the sortie and approach us with the vital information.

Obviously there are some compromises, due to software and scenery ( ours is not 1943 ! ) and some airfield no longer exist, but we can get pretty close.

Andy Sturgess