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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

Press Releases

Martin Shaw discovers the true story of the Dambusters

Television actor and vintage plane enthusiast Martin Shaw will be taking to the skies over Yorkshire and Derbyshire this week for a documentary from the BBC in Yorkshire which aims to uncover brand new information about the RAF's famous wartime Dambusters raid.

Shaw, who holds his own private pilot's licence and flies vintage planes, will be flying over the Upper Derwent Valley in the Peak District above Sheffield where 617 squadron famously practised their bomb runs before embarking on their mission to destroy dams in Germany during the Second World War.

He will be joined in the cockpit of the Piper Navajo plane by war hero and Dambusters expert Wing Commander Chris Norton who led the Harrier jump jets of the RAF's elite No1 Squadron against targets in Kosovo and the latest Gulf War. Using modern GPS technology they'll be testing the accuracy of the wooden bombsights used to drop the bouncing bombs.

Later the pair will trace the entire route from RAF Scampton to the Ruhr Valley in Germany. Thanks to a special dispensation from the Civil Aviation Authority they will fly some of the route at the same ultra low level used by 617 Squadron's Lancaster bombers.

Executive Producer for the BBC Ian Cundall said: "The amazing story of the Dambusters has been told many times, especially in the famous Richard Todd movie – but in this documentary we think we have come up with some exciting new evidence that reveals secrets which have remained hidden for the last 67 years. Wartime censorship and a desire to protect what, at the time, was a wonder-weapon led to many aspects of the raid being hushed up. When modern viewers find out what really happened we believe the raid will be seen as even more extraordinary."

The plane, flown by Wg Cdr Norton, holder of the Distinguished Flying Cross, will leave RAF Scampton near Lincoln – home to the original 617 Squadron – today. On arrival in Germany they will overfly the Mohne Dam and meet a local survivor of the raid.

Ian Cundall said: "Only by recreating this hugely important moment in wartime history can we fully understand the courage and skill of the airmen who carried it out. For too long their exploits have been lost in a fog of myth and half-truth."

The programme is due to be broadcast this autumn in Yorkshire and Lincolnshire on BBC One and again, later in the year, across the country on BBC Two.


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