Today: July 22, 2024

Dambusters: Experience the Legendary Raid

The Royal Air Force Museum invites you to take a seat on board a Lancaster during the legendary Dambusters raid of 1943, using Virtual Reality technology. Immortalised in the 1955 war film starring Michael Redgrave (main photo), the events of the Dams Raid was one of the greatest feat of arms performed by the Royal Air Force. Its success captured the public imagination at the time and over the next 70 years inspired a multitude of books, films and documentaries. 

Dambusters: Immersive Histories at the RAF Museum London, is the newest part of the Dambusters offer that also includes a replica of the ‘bouncing bomb’, Barnes Wallis’ office and the original moulds of the first test bombs. 

The Virtual Reality Experience (VRE) puts the user inside a moment in history. For the first time ever, visitors to the Museum can step inside the story of the iconic operation through an authentic, interactive recreation of the Dambusters’ first mission on 16 May 1943 attacking the Möhne Dam. 

360° first person views, spatialised audio and haptic feedback vests reinforce the experience of being aboard a No. 617 Squadron Lancaster bomber during Operation CHASTISE. 

Audiences can choose to step into the shoes of two of the Lancaster’s crew during the mission: 

Flt Lt Robert Hutchison (Bar) was the Wireless Operator onboard the aircraft. Known to the crew as ‘Hutch’, he was born in Liverpool, UK and was 25 at the time of the mission. On the aircraft his responsibilities included receiving messages from and sending messages to base as well as launching a signal flare as they cleared the dam on their attack. The Wireless Operator station is on the left side of the aircraft just ahead of the wing spar. Hutchison was awarded the DFC for his participation in Operation CHASTISE. He died on 16 September 1943 when his aircraft was hit by flak during a raid on the Dortmund-Ems canal. 

Plt Off Harlo Torger Taerum was the Navigator onboard the aircraft. Known as ‘Terry’ to the crew, he was born in Alberta, Canada and was 23 at the time of the mission. On the aircraft his responsibilities included navigating them to their objective and home safely. He was also responsible for monitoring the aircraft’s altitude during their assault on the dam by observing the convergence of the spotlights on the water below them at 18.3m (60 ft). Taerum was awarded the DFC for his participation in Operation CHASTISE. He also died on 16 September 1943 when his aircraft was hit by flak during a raid on the Dortmund-Ems canal. 

The experience takes place in ED932/G AJ-G ‘George’: an Avro Lancaster B Mk III Special Bomber (Type 464 Provisioning). ‘G-George’ was flown by Wing Commander Guy Penrose Gibson, DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar. It was the first aircraft to attack the dams during Operation CHASTISE. Gibson was awarded the VC for his leadership during the campaign. 

In the experience audiences can explore the area directly around the wireless and navigator sections and into the cockpit up to the rear of the pilot’s chair. Audiences are not able to explore past these areas. Audience members must remain mindful of other guests in the experience and ensure that they do not move too close to them. Other members of the crew can be seen from both the Wireless Op and Navigator positions. In the cockpit, you will be able to see Wing Commander Guy Gibson piloting the aircraft, with Flight Engineer Sgt John Pulford to his right. From the Navigator position, you may also be able to see the Bomb Aimer, Plt Off Frederic ‘Spam’ Spafford as well as Front Gunner Plt Off George Deering firing back at the dam’s defences. 

Participants suit up in a vest and step inside an accurate physical set of a Lancaster. They are completely immersed and able to reach out to feel the window, fuselage and desk’ of the Lancaster bomber. As the aircraft continues it’s mission, users will also feel the ‘roar of the Lancaster’s Merlin engines’, through their haptic vests. Step back in time to the early hours of 17 May 1943 and onboard Lancaster G-George to join the Dambusters on their legendary mission. 

Using the latest virtual reality and haptic technology, in conjunction with a physical 1:1 recreation of the interior of the iconic Avro Lancaster bomber, experience key events from the Dambusters Raid as never before. Witness decisive moments play out before you as you explore the aircraft piloted by Wing Commander Guy Gibson DSO and Bar, DFC and Bar.  Listen to communications between the crew as their mission progresses; monitor the aircraft’s altitude and route as you gaze out of the Lancaster’s windows; witness the Ruhr Valley as it whizzes past at very low altitude; feel the tension increase as each Lancaster endeavours to bust the Möhne Dam, before learning the full outcome of your mission. Each detail has been painstakingly recreated using primary accounts from crew members who flew the mission, and with the assistance received from experts on Operation CHASTISE and the Avro Lancaster bomber. 

The Dambusters Immersive Experience has been created by All Seeing Eye with input from No. 617 Squadron official historian, Robert Owen. 

Barry Smith Director of Visitor and Commercial Development “At the RAF Museum we are very interested in new ways of interpreting and sharing the stories of the Royal Air Force. The opportunity to actually invite our visitors to be part of the Dambusters story is one that we are very excited about. I can honestly say that our visitors are in for a treat!” 

Olie Kay Associate Creative Director, All Seeing Eye Ltd. “This experience isn’t about explaining all the facts of the mission. It’s about exploring the human story of the real people who were on the aircraft and communicating an authentic sense of place of what it may have been like to be there.” 

Dambusters: Immersive Histories at the RAF Museum London is available from Friday 15 March.

This experience is suitable for visitors aged 13+ only. 

Tickets
Cost: £10.00 General Visitors, £8.00 Museum Members.
Experience Length: 10 minutes.
Location: Hangar 5, Dambusters Exhibition.
You can also purchase your ticket from our Box Office contained within the Museum’s shop, in Hangar 1. 

Access Times
This immersive Virtual Reality experience runs daily from 10.30am – 5.15pm daily. Tickets may be pre-booked for time-slots up to 2.30pm. After 2.30pm just turn up.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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