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& Bullets

Musings on the worlds of aviation, military and international affairs.


With reviews of books that cover these topics


I arrived home after a New Year trip just in time to watch most of The Dambusters, that classic WW2 film starring  Richard Todd as Guy Gibson, the CO of 617 sqn. It was encouraging to see that his dog retained his real name of Nigger. There is much talk that when Peter (Lord of the Rings) Jackson eventually does his remake of the Dambusters, Gibson’s dog will either be deleted or quietly renamed, in the interests of political acceptability.


The original film was made in 1953 – when there were still lots of Lancaster airframes  around. The air to air shots were stunning. I could not avoid my spotterish side when noting that the squadron departed for the raid in formation take-offs, in threes, from a grass airfield. I am sceptical RAF heavies did formation departures on ops – for the obvious reason that a mild swing (which was not an unusual occurrence), could easily result in a fiery end for 2 crews. And I thought that grass runways were not in use for heavies in May 1943. But some research tells me that Scampton, 617’s base at the time, did not receive its first hard runway until three months after the raid, so the film is correct.  

Lancasters in the news

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