Return Of The Dambusters! A High Flying Tribute

Lancaster Bombers at Southport Air Show

In tribute to the lives lost during the Second World War, two of the world’s remaining airworthy Lancaster bombers were spotted flying over the counties of Derbyshire and Lincolnshire last weekend, as they headed to the Southport Air Show as part of a tribute flight.

Swooping over the Derwent Dam, these majestic fighter planes are a testament to the events experienced during the war, when thousands of crew members, military men and civilians lost their lives in order to ensure the freedom of generations to come. 

Thumper and Vera 

 For the first time in over 50 years, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s bomber, Thumper, and the Canadian Lancaster, Vera, flew together on Sunday afternoon. Alongside the Red Arrows, they soared over the site of the original Dambusters raid as part of the Southport Air Show, before returning to their base at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.

It was here, at the Derwent Dam in the heart of the Peak District, where crew members from the 617 Squadron trained before the raid - also known as Operation Chastise – which occurred on the 16th May, 1943; a raid that lost eight planes, and 53 men. Training operations, led by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, were performed to perfect the planned nocturnal assaults on the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams – three crucial parts of Hitler’s Ruhr Valley. 

Planes flying in the Southport Air Show


[Image courtesy of F Stop Press]
 Despite critic claims of propaganda, many believe that the operation was, on the whole, successful - if only for the morale boost that it achieved. The use of Barnes Wallis’ ‘bouncing bombs’ caused the breach and collapse of the Mohne and Eder, and structural damage to the Sorpe, as well as destruction of hydroelectric power stations, factories and mines, and 1600 casualties. Havoc erupted within the German war production industry and Allies’ spirits were boosted, despite the loss of life that resulted. 
The skill of the airmen that would have navigated these bombers during the Dambusters raid is truly astonishing. Flying so low, at 30 metres, through enemy terrain, and dropping the bombs with utmost precision, is one of the reasons why the operation is so well remembered. 
A Wartime Reunion
 The reunion of the Lancaster Bombers is part of a UK-wide series of events, including appearances at the Duxford Air Show and the Goodwood Revival. Last month, the Canadian bomber, Vera, suffered mechanical problems, which caused cancellations across the country, including its scheduled appearance at the Bournemouth Air Festival. Action Stations, however, have scheduled more flights for aviation fanatics to fly alongside the Canadian bomber for £2,150, which will include a 40-minute flight, a tour and a photograph.

Planes flying over the Southport Air Show


[Image courtesy of F Stop Press]
An Emotional Display
Any time the Lancaster aircraft swoop across the country, spectators are understandably mesmerised, and their presence in the skies last weekend was no different. Gary Kellaway, who was at the Southport Air Show, told the Liverpool Echo that “…it’s been fantastic…a great turn out and my favourite was seeing the Lancaster bombers.”
As the two bombers circled above the countryside, thousands of spectators cast their eyes to the skies to witness the incredible demonstration. Aviation fanatics will have appreciated the spectacle, but the emotions that the display will have induced will undoubtedly have triggered a few tears by everyone who feels a connection to this important event in our history. 


Lancaster Bombers flying over the Southport Air Show


[Image courtesy of F Stop Press]