In warfare, if the Brits are known for one thing, it’s lunacy. Read the history books and you’ll see the most bat-sh*t plans and proposals usually come from their demented generals and mad scientists. Go to war with them and there’s every chance you’ll win, but not before they’ve given you several reasons to go “what the f**k?!”.
During the Second World War, the Germans had technological superiority over the entire world. They had pretty much the best of everything and the resources of Europe with which to make everything even better. Britain, by comparison, had a few shoelaces and a bit of wood with a nail in it. So, they had to be clever and/or mental. The Nazis had scientists in fully equipped labs. The Brits had crackpot inventors in garden sheds.
Aircraft carriers made from icebergs, exploding rats, inflatable tanks, miniature submarines, a flying jeep, bombs filled with anthrax-laced darts, even RADAR was born from an attempt to build a Death Ray. The general attitude seemed to be: if you can’t achieve victory over your enemy, just f**k with their heads.
And it didn’t really matter how heavily fortified a target was, the Brits would come up with some deranged plan and take a shot at it.
The U-Boat pens and dry dock facility at St Nazaire in France bristled with armaments and was watched from all angles by anti-aircraft cannons, railway guns and 5000 German troops. Attacking it would be madness….. so the Brits built a floating bomb, loaded it with commandos and ploughed into it.
One of the more famous raids involving crazy people using crazy weapons was Operation Chastise, or as it has become more commonly known: the “Dambuster Raids”.
In 1943, the Ruhr valley in Germany was an industrial hub, powered by hydroelectricity from a number of large dams. Dams which the Germans knew would be prime targets for Allied bombers, so they put in place antiaircraft guns, barrage balloons and torpedo nets. Defences to counter all known forms of attack. So the Brits made up a new one: the bouncing bomb.
They were large, barrel-shaped devices that hooked under specially fitted bombers. When rotated backwards at a particular speed, they skimmed over the surface of the water, over any torpedo nets and into the dam wall.
Sounds like genius, but British genius is always partnered with British crazy. In order for the bombs to function properly, the planes had to be flying low. Very low. Very, very low. How low? One of the planes approached its targets by way of a firebreak in the surrounding forest. THAT low. And remember: this isn’t a fighter plane, it’s a bomber.
Also, in order to gauge their exact height prior to dropping the bombs, the aircraft had to point spotlights at the surface of the water. Which the Germans probably noticed and would have interpreted as the universal sign for “shoot here”.
The raid took out two of the three targets and 11 of the 19 bomber crews made it home.
Today, Squadron Leader Les Munro, the last of the Dambuster pilots, died at the age of 96. I felt it worth making mention of both he and his balls of solid steel.www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-…