Jump to content
Free downloads from TNA ×
The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Opinion: The Dambusters raid took place 75 years ago – here's how they made a bomb bounce


Recommended Posts

Just spotted this article: Opinion: The Dambusters raid took place 75 years ago – here's how they made a bomb bounce




Hugh Hunt from Cambridge's Department of Engineering - who recreated the Dambusters raid in 2011 - discusses how engineers made a bomb bounce 75 years ago in an article for The Conversation


Sir Barnes Wallis was a genius engineer who designed a very special bomb during World War II. The idea was that it would bounce across water and destroy German dams along the Ruhr Valley, causing massive flooding and damage to water and hydroelectricity supplies.

Partly thanks to the 1955 film The Dam Busters, the story behind Operation Chastise, which took place on May 16 and 17 in 1943, has become a familiar war time tale. But Wallis’s actual working calculations were lost (fittingly perhaps, in a flood in the 1960s). So what do we know about the complex science behind the bouncing bombs?


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guy Gibson was born 12 August 1918. Bit tenuous, though.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've spent a few minutes trying to find out what Barnes Wallis did between 1914 and 1918, Most on-line accounts say something on the lines of: " In 1913, he took up an opportunity to work for the newly formed aircraft design department at Vickers. In 1913, aircraft design was in its infancy, but the First World War increased the importance attached to the development of aircraft technology".


One does note that  he  "went to work for Vickers as Chief Assistant of Airship Design in 1913. The R.9, R.23 and R.26 airships were all in service by the end of World War I in which he briefly served as a private."


Briefly referenced on

this old GWF thread



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Findmypast has the following hits. I am intrigued by the RA Attestation- can anyone elucidate?


Link to comment
Share on other sites



46 minutes ago, charlie962 said:

I am intrigued by the RA Attestation- can anyone elucidate?


The record reads:


Number: 1670899

Name: WALLIS. Barnes Neville


Particulars of Attestation

Date: 27.9.23

Force: Territorial

Period for which enlisted: 4 years

Age: 35 years 9 months

Place: Chelsea

Trade on enlistment: Engineer

Place of birth: Ripley, Derby

Former service: 28 London Regiment. Number 3582 (for 157 days?). Commissioned Service RNAS


Discharged or becoming Non-Effective

Date and place: 10.2.25 Dover

Cause: Commissioned in


Rank on discharge: Sergeant






Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, Chris. Fascinating, it is him.

FWR have a note that he was commissioned 2Lt in 155 London Battery 11/2/25.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, PhilB said:

pilot's wings

It seems so. I couldn't find him in Royal Aero Club's listing. But I presumed the service records I noted above would help us out ?



These are the NA refs




Edited by charlie962
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A couple  of snippets from the Web:


"Wallis' lifelong involvement with aeronautics and association with Vickers began when he was invited to join the Chief Draughtsman - Airships at Vickers as Chief Assistant in the designing of the R9 airship from 1913-1915. Wallis was intermittently engaged on war service and airship design. Towards the end of the First World War, Wallis became engrossed in the design of the R80 airship, but the Royal Air Force discontinued the project in 1921." (Science Museum website)


"With the outbreak of the First World War, Barnes found himself unemployed when the Admiralty decided that they did not want to spend any more money on airships during the war. Wallis took the opportunity to join the Services but unfortunately failed the eye test to allow him to get in. Wallis overcame this by recruiting in another section of the Services and when the men were stripping just before their medical, was careful to do so near the sight-testing card and memorised it. However, soon after he had joined up, the airship designing team were recalled and the War Office was persuaded to release Wallis ... from the Army. Barnes helped to design airships and aircraft including the R100." (University of Bristol website)


Probably few, if any, clues among

his papers


held at Wroughton, near Swindon?





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...