Typhoon Replaces Lancaster In Dambusters Anniversary Flight

The planned Lancaster flypast will now be conducted by a Typhoon aircraft, with other commemorations going ahead as planned.

A Typhoon flies over the Derwent Dam in Derbyshire as part of the Dambusters 75th anniversary (Picture: PA).

A Typhoon jet conducted a planned flight to mark the 75th Dambusters anniversary after a Lancaster Bomber had to cancel due to poor weather conditions.

Other commemorations went ahead as planned, including an appearance by Britain's last surviving Dambuster, Squadron Leader George "Johnny" Johnson at RAF Coningsby.

The last airworthy Lancaster Bomber in the UK was planned to fly over the former Dambusters base at RAF Scampton.

The jet took off from RAF Coningsby and passed over RAF Scampton - the original home of the Dambusters squadron - as well as the Derwent Dam in Derbyshire's Peak District, the Rolls-Royce factory in Derby and Eyebrook Reservoir in Leicestershire.

The day's events came as confirmation was given that the new F-35B aircraft, the jets to be flown by the present-day 617 Squadron, will arrive at RAF Marham next month.

The Defence Secretary attended the Dambusters event and had a chance to go inside the Lancaster bomber itself.

Gavin Williamson said:

"Seventy-five years ago so many people were involved in a titanic struggle to keep Britain safe.

"When we think about the 617 Squadron and what they did in that Dambusters raid, having such an impact, making sure that people not just having military impact but lifting people’s morale right across the country.

"The sacrifices made from about a third of the crews that were lost in a result of that - it’s truly humbling and it makes you realise that when we’re in the most difficult times, the British people were always ready to step up to the mark."

A total of 133 aircrew left for the raid on board 19 Lancaster bombers from RAF Scampton.

During the mission, 53 men were killed and three were captured.

Johnny Johnson and Wing Commander John Butcher, Officer Commanding, 617 Squadron
Wing Commander John Butcher, Officer Commanding, 617 Squadron and George 'Johnny' Johnson.

Squadron Leader George "Johnny" Johnson was part of 617 Squadron, which carried out the night of raids on German dams in an effort to disable Hitler's industrial heartland.

The 96-year-old is part of today's events, and said the anniversary on Wednesday night and Thursday morning emphasises the importance of the raid and acts as a reminder for younger generations.

His crew was one of five selected to target the Sorpe dam, and had to fly along its length at as low an altitude as possible and drop the bomb in the centre.

Although Mr Johnson's aircrew did not destroy their target, the Germans had to empty the dam to repair it, causing major disruption to the war effort.

Asked about the most significant thing he remembers from the night of the raids, he said:

"It was an exhilarating feeling, flying low level into the Ruhr Valley in bright moonlight."

"Once we had recovered from the early disappointment of the target - the Sorpe didn't require us to spin the bomb or use any of our practised techniques - the most significant memory was the sight of the burst Mohne dam as we flew home."

The dams were destroyed by the revolutionary bouncing bomb. 

As part of the anniversary celebrations, the event was attended by Mary Stopes-Roe - the daughter of Sir Barnes Wallis - who created the bouncing bomb. 

The moment when Mary Stopes-Roe's interview was 'interrupted' by a passing jet.

She told Forces News that her father developed the bomb whilst playing with her and her siblings.

"One day he suddenly asked us to fill my mother’s old-fashioned washing down and put it out on the garden table. 

"He then got a big wooden pistol and shot marbles at it and they had to rise over a string.

“That was the beginning of it."

Sir Barnes Wallis created the bouncing bomb by playing with his children.
Mary Stopes-Roe's father created the bouncing bomb.

The legacy of the Dambusters continues today with current 617 Squadron leader, Wing Commander John Butcher, the grandson of one of the Dambusters.

He said:

"I think the very remarkable work that they did is what we need to remember.

"They (the Dambusters) took a squadron that didn't exist at the start of the year, formed it in March and by May they were completing the mission with cutting-edge technology.

"That really brings a lot of the spirit and ethos of the Royal Air Force to the fore, in terms of bombing missions that we [the RAF] did during the Second World War."