The day the Dam Busters returned... in Canada

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“The physics of bouncing something on water is relatively simple,” says Dr Hugh Hunt, breezily. “But actually doing it, at scale, under a plane, building a dam and blowing it up, is much more of an engineering exercise than a science exercise.”

There are few more memorable stories in the history of Britain’s Armed Forces than that of Operation Chastise – better known, of course, as the Dam Busters raid. The bravery of the pilots who flew Lancaster bombers at the great dams of West Germany is the stuff of Second World War legend.

But while the pilots, understandably, have held the public imagination, what is sometimes forgotten is what a huge engineering challenge the raid – employing the famous “Upkeep” bouncing bomb – constituted. Barnes Wallis, the aeronautical engineer behind the idea, spent four years developing the bombs before the attack took place.

Now Dr Hunt, a senior engineering lecturer at the Dynamics and Vibration Research Group (“I specialise in spinning things”) at the University of Cambridge, has taken on that challenge again for television. He wants to give a more scientific account of the raid than the 1955 film The Dam Busters....

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