The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) is preparing to commemorate the 80th anniversary of Operation Chastise, commonly known as the Dambusters Raid, which took place in May 1943. Op Chastise was an attack on the German Dams, taking place during the night on the 16th - 17th May 1943, where 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force (RAF) carried out the raid which involved 133 aircrew and 19 Lancaster Bomber aircraft.
The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, based at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, continue to maintain a number of historic wartime aircraft in airworthy condition in order to commemorate those who have fallen in the service of this country. On the evening of the 16th of May 2023, the BBMF Lancaster will be flying a special route over all the Bomber Command bases in Lincolnshire as well as the RAF Museum at Hendon to commemorate the anniversary of the raid.
"We are working hard to produce an achievable plan that allows us to showcase the Lancaster, commemorate the unsung heroes of Bomber Command and also incorporate the tasking we already had for the evening of 16 May. At this stage, the Lancaster sortie for that evening includes 34 flypast locations which are far more than we would normally plan in a single sortie. We will try to “make up the time” by reducing most events to a single overflight so that we can meet our fixed time over the RAF Museum in Hendon but still manage a tour of the Lincolnshire Bomber Command Airfields prior to landing before sunset. I personally can’t wait to see our Lancaster over her home turf, against the same backdrop she would have had in the 1940s; I just hope that backdrop is clear evening skies with less than 15 knots crosswind!" remarked Flight Lieutenant Croft, BBMF Operations Officer
The plans to commemorate the anniversary will be subject to weather and serviceability caveats due to the nature of operating historic aircraft, and the route itself will be published closer to the date of the event.
"The Dambusters raid was one of the most audacious raids in the history of the Royal Air Force, and we at the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight are proud to commemorate the bravery, dedication and sacrifice of all those involved," said Squadron Leader Sugden, Officer Commanding the BBMF
The Royal Air Force Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) operates from RAF Coningsby, a Typhoon base, in Lincolnshire. The mission of the RAF BBMF is to maintain the priceless artefacts of our national heritage in airworthy condition in order to commemorate those who have fallen in the service of this country. The RAF BBMF also serves to promote the modern-day Air Force and to inspire future generations.
The Flight operates six Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Lancaster, a C47 Dakota, and two Chipmunk aircraft (primarily for training). The aircraft are flown by regular RAF Aircrew.
These aircraft can be regularly seen in the skies over the UK from May to September each year. They are flown to celebrate and commemorate public and military events from State occasions such as Trooping the Colour to major airshows and flypasts for public events.
The Avro Lancaster is the most famous and successful RAF heavy bomber of World War Two. There are only two airworthy Lancasters left in the world - 7,377 were built. Lancaster PA474 was built at the Vickers Armstrong Broughton factory at Hawarden Airfield, Chester on 31 May 1945, just after VE day. The war in the Far East ended before she was deployed and she did not take part in any hostilities.