No 617 ‘Dambuster’ Sqn Book Review



Number 617 ‘Dambuster’ Squadron Osprey Aviation Elite Units 34

By Alex Bateman, profiles by Chris Davey

Paperback: 128 pages

Published by Osprey Publishing October 2009

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1846034299

ISBN-13: 978-1846034299

Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.4 x 9.8 inches

Number 617 Squadron, Royal Air Force is best known as being the unit which carried out the famous breaching operations against the Möhne, Sorpe, and Elder dams on 17MAY43, being known thereafter as the Dambuster Squadron.  The Squadron utilized specially modified Lancaster bombers which carried a large mine designed by Barnes Wallis, which was intended to skip across the lake and sink alongside the dam before detonating.

After the dams raid many of the bombers were converted to handle more conventional bomb loads, along with the specialized Tallboy and Grand Slam bombs also designed by Barnes Wallis.  Weighing in at 12,000 and 22,000 pounds respectively, these were the heaviest bombs used during the Second World War.  617 Squadron was used as a special missions unit on targets requiring either a small force or the unique heavy “earthquake” bombs.  The most well known objectives were the battleship Tirpitz, heavy cruiser Lutzow, and the heavily protected U-boat pens at Farge, German.  Less well known is their attack on the German “Supergun” site at Mimoyecques, France, which was composed of 130 meter (425 foot) long guns built into a hillside and designed to shell London.

This book is part of the Osprey Aviation Elite Units series which was discontinued after forty-one volumes, Osprey deciding to present its aviation units content in either the Aircraft of the Aces or Combat Aircraft series.  This volume contains twenty-one profiles of the unit’s Lancasters or the pathfinder Mosquitos and  Mustangs.  The Lancasters are particularly interesting to modelers for both their historic missions and the modifications needed to carry their unique ordinance.  A well-written volume, and a very interesting read.  Recommended.