A highly-restricted edition commemorating the men and machines of perhaps the most famous of all RAF Bomber Command units to serve during WWII
Forged by their unique link to aeronautical design genius Barnes Wallis, 617 Squadron was the first and only squadron in the history of RAF Bomber Command to be formed for a single operation – the spectacular destruction of the great dams of Western Germany. After successfully delivering Barnes Wallis’s ingenious ‘Upkeep’ bouncing bomb on that audacious low-level assault on the night of 16/17 May 1943, 617 Squadron soon came to be considered as the RAF’s specialist precision-bombing unit, and forever known as the Dambusters.
Having later released 12,000lb ‘Tallboy’ deep-penetration earthquake bombs on major targets including the U-boat pens along the French Atlantic Coast, the Kembs barrage and the mighty German battleship Tirpitz, in March 1945 the squadron carried the first of Barnes Wallis’s ‘Grand Slam’ bombs to attack the Bielefeld and Arnsberg viaducts. The massive 22,000lb ‘Grand Slam’ contained over 9,000lbs of Torpex explosive and was the most powerful conventional bomb of World War II. And, like ‘Upkeep’ and ‘Tallboys’, ‘Grand Slams’ could only be carried by specially modified Avro Lancaster bombers.
617 Squadron was the only unit to use these mammoth weapons in anger, and it’s their modified Lancasters at RAF Woodhall Spa that form the basis of Robert Taylor’s atmospheric drawing Major Missions.