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The Dambusters Raid (2001)

| Documentary | Video
On May 17th. 1943 the Royal Air Force carried out one of the most remarkable bombing raids ever undertaken by a handful of skilled aircrew prepared to risk their lives attacking a seemingly impossible target.

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Guy Gibson ...
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On May 17th. 1943 the Royal Air Force carried out one of the most remarkable bombing raids ever undertaken by a handful of skilled aircrew prepared to risk their lives attacking a seemingly impossible target.

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Good Documentary
26 June 2005 | by (Molokai, HI) – See all my reviews

Interesting coverage on the British effort to attack the hydroelectric dams of Germany's industrial heartland, the Ruhr Valley. If you got through the film version, DAM BUSTERS (1954), you should enjoy the additional information presented in this documentary.

Success eluded those opposing the German juggernaut for much of World War II. After three years of war, the most optimistic characterization of the situation was the advances had been stemmed. Britain faced an occupied Continental Europe and the Soviets were holding deep in their own territory. The United States, a recent addition, had not yet made an appreciable impact.

Aerial bombardment had been touted as the means to destroy the ability and will to make war since the invention of the airplane. The UK was familiar with the receiving end of the premise so the RAF's effort made good copy.

The promise of Strategic bombing exceeded its reality. A contemporary report on RAF performance indicated 100% of the bombs dropped hit the ground but only 10% did so within 5 miles of the intended target. While satisfying Douhet's "Theory of Frightfulness", it did little damage to the production facilities supporting the ability to make war.

Barns Wallis, a gifted Vickers engineer, submitted a plan to attack the dams providing water and electricity for Ruhr industry with huge penetrating bombs. Cute idea but it also required the development of a new bomber with six engines. The plan was dismissed as just another of those silly engineer ideas.

Further investigation showed smaller bombs, placed against the face of a dam, could do the job. The four motor Lanc could deliver such a bomb. The Air Staff reluctantly approved the plan but the need to attack the dams at spring high water allowed very little time for development.

The movie presented the development as a singular effort by Barns Wallis. This documentary indicates rather more support. The spinning, bouncing bomb and the crews trained to deliver it were ready just in time.

Two of the three dams targeted were successfully breached. The experts presented in this documentary deemed the raid a failure. The third dam was considered most important and air crew loses, at 50%, were excessive. War production was only minimally effected. The boost to morale in a beleaguered nation was significant.

New to me was the coverage of smaller bouncing bombs for use against ships. Ocean swells significantly affected accuracy and these were never used. Additionally, German reverse- engineering of a captured big bomb and the addition of a rocket motor was interesting.

Rather a bit much for a comment, eh? If you got this far, you will enjoy the viewing.


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