Monday, 20 June 2011


I just finished reading Max Arthur's "Dambusters". Based on first hand accounts of the crews, and others at RAF Scampton, as well as German civilians who experienced the deluge, this is an easy but superb read. It is impossible to imagine ourselves in the situation these men were in, but they help us understand how they were able to function, and to maintain a semblance of normality, with the threat of death hanging over them every day. I strongly recommend this book.

As a young air cadet I spent time at Scampton back in 1977. 617 squadron were flying Vulcans there in those days, and what magnificent aircraft they were. I subsequently worked mainly around Phantoms, but I was lucky enough to catch the tail-end of a previous generation of aircraft. I once fitted a gunsite camera into a Lightning - this aircraft was essentially a metal tube wrapped around two huge engines, with wings and a couple of redtop missiles bolted on. It could take-off at astonishing speed, and then climb vertically like a rocket. It was a seriously impressive piece of kit. I also saw Buccaneers, Victors, and once got to sit in the cockpit of an F-104 Starfighter. By the time I left the service, Tornadoes were taking over from the Phantom, and it was the end of an era.

ps, Guy Gibson's dog is buried outside one of the hangars at Scampton, and yes - he was called 'Nigger"!

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