16 May 1943: Wing Commander Guy Gibson, flying AJ-G (“G – George”), leads the first wave of Lancaster bombers over occupied Holland on the way to bomb the Ruhr dams in Operation Chastise – the Dambusters raid. The first wave comprised three sections of three aircraft, 10 minutes apart. Here Gibson leads with AJ-M behind, piloted by John Hopgood, followed by AJ-A flown by Henry “Dinghy” Young.
The Upkeep depth charge or “bouncing bomb” is slung beneath the specially modified aircraft. The mission was flown at extremely low level and in bright moonlight.
NEWS UPDATE: this image has been bought by a publisher in Lincolnshire (“bomber county”) for use in a bookazine commemorating the 70th anniversary of the operation against the Ruhr dams in May 2013.