"The Suicide Squadron"

Do you know how many Lancaster's and airmen from "The Dambusters" 617 Squadron were lost?

The 617 Squadron were renowned for their low level, night flying missions. It's challenging enough to fly a small aircraft low level (they flew as low as 30 feet) so it must have been insane doing that in a bomber, in the dark, often in less than ideal conditions while trying to dodge enemy fire.

On the night of Operation Chastise 617 Squadron sent 19 Lancaster's with 133 crew to bomb four German dams. Two dams were successfully breached but the cost to the Squadron was massive with eight aircraft and 53 crew lost to accidents and German defenses, with 3 more airmen taken as POW's.

Photo - Flight Lieutenant Joe McCarthy (fourth from left) and his crew of No. 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) at RAF Scampton, 22 July 1943.

Following the costly dam raid 617 regrouped and was then tasked with breaching canal banks to disrupt the flow of German supplies. This was another costly exercise with low level flying and German defenses claiming five of the eight Lancaster's and 41 of their crew. What made it worse is that they failed with no canals breached.

617 became known as the "The Suicide Squadron" with an average loss of 50% on their first two major operations. In comparison, the Main Force bombers raiding German cities had only 5% losses.

The accidents caused by their crazy low level flying eventually became too costly and they abandoned this method for the much safer high level flying of other Squadrons. So next time you are zooming around the valleys in a fighter jet on our sims, imagine trying to do it in the dark, low level, with someone trying to shoot you AND without the HUD and alerts telling you you're about to hit a hill.

The brave, ballsy men of 617 Squadron deserve every medal they got.

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