Flt Sgt W. C. ‘Bill’ Townsend flying AJ-O (“O for Orange”) across North Holland “right on the deck” as the sun rises on the morning of 17 May 1943. Theirs was the last aircraft home to RAF Scampton after 617 Squadron’s Operation Chastise – the Dambusters raid on the Ruhr dams.
The specially modified Type 464 (Provisioning) Lancaster had been intended to drop its Upkeep depth charge on the Ennepe Dam and the crew believed they had, though in the dark, mist-filled valleys it appears they might have hit the wrong target – without effect in either case.
High above in a Messerschmitt Bf 110 night fighter of 12. Staffel/NJG 1, scrambled in response to the raiders, Feldwebel George Kraft and Fedlwebel Erich Handke cannot see them down on the deck.
This Lancaster, ED886/G, was subsequently lost while on an arms drop to the French resistance in December 1943.
This Flight Artworks picture is a composite of multiple images. Aircraft very extensively reworked from an original by Ronnie Macdonald (used with permission).