Lincolnshire will be paying tribute to an iconic moment of aviation history when it marks a milestone anniversary of the Dambusters’ ‘Bouncing Bomb’ raids this May.
During World War II Lincolnshire was known as ‘Bomber County’ due to the number of bases, and amongst the crews stationed under its big skies was 617 Squadron… better known as the Dambusters.
This May sees the 80th anniversary of one of the war’s most daring missions, the raid that took off from the Squadron’s Lincolnshire base to target the dams surrounding the Ruhr Valley in 1943.
It will be marked with commemorations, including a historic one-off event – an iconic Lancaster bomber flying a two-hour sortie over Lincolnshire’s Bomber Command airfields.
If weather conditions allow the aircraft from the RAF’s famous Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF), based in the county, will complete 34 flypasts, far more than would normally be planned in a single sortie.
Scheduled to take place on the evening of 16 May – exactly 80 years after the raid during the night of 16 -17 May 1943 – the flight is due to begin with a flypast at the former Spitalgate airfield, near Grantham, at 6.58pm. The Lancaster will then wing its way across Lincolnshire, including overflying Lincoln’s International Bomber Command Centre (IBCC) at 7:08pm, before its final flypast over its home airfield, RAF Coningsby, at 8.07pm (https://bit.ly/3ULvBGN).
As well as an operational Typhoon base, Coningsby houses the BBMF, which operates six Spitfires, two Hurricanes, a Lancaster, a C47 Dakota, and two Chipmunk aircraft (primarily for training), all flown by regular RAF aircrew. Maintaining the historic aircraft in airworthy condition as a tribute to those who have fallen in the country’s service, and to promote the modern-day RAF, the fleet can be regularly seen in the skies over the UK each year, often at major national celebrations.
For a glimpse behind the scenes of the remarkable aircraft, Coningsby’s The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre offers guided tours of the hangar where the “national treasure” aircraft are kept and maintained (https://bit.ly/41RAq3x).
Lincolnshire is already a top destination for aviation enthusiasts and those who simply want to remember friends and family who served there during wartime. It is a rich heritage still very much alive today at a host of museums and living memorials, while Lincolnshire’s skies are home to one of the world’s greatest air display teams – the RAF Red Arrows.
Formerly based at RAF Scampton near Lincoln – the bomber base from which the Dambusters flew their legendary raid – their new home is at RAF Waddington, 10 miles to the south, maintaining a link with the county spanning almost 40 years.
For more Dambusters connections, the Petwood Hotel, at Woodhall Spa, served as the 617’s Officers’ Mess, and is today home to the Squadron Bar, packed with memorabilia commemorating Wing Commander Guy Gibson and his squadron.
More details about Lincolnshire’s aviation heritage and attractions, can be found at www.visitlincolnshire.com/things-to-do/aviation-heritage/
For more about visiting, and staying in, Lincolnshire, see www.visitlincolnshire.com