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Lancaster bomber RAF Cosford flypast marks Dambuster raid anniversary

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The 70th anniversary of the Dambusters air raid was celebrated this afternoon with a spectacular flypast at the RAF Museum in Cosford.

The famous Lancaster bomber flies over RAF Cosford to mark the 70th anniversary of the Dambusters Raid on Germany in 1943. Pictures: Andrew Cunningham

The Lancaster bomber completed three circuits over the airfield.

More than 800 onlookers assembled to watch the spectacle – the first time Cosford has seen the iconic bombers perform a flypast.

Today marks 70 years since 19 Lancaster bombers took off from RAF Scampton in Lincolnshire, on a mission to destroy German dams with a revolutionary "bouncing" bomb.

The flypast was one of dozens of events going on around the country today.

A Lancaster also flew low this afternoon over the Derwent Reservoir, in Hope Valley, Derbyshire, where the pilots completed practice runs before the legendary bombing raid.

And tonight there will be a sunset ceremony at RAF Scampton.

The Dambusters raid was an attempt to cripple the Nazi war economy by attacking three dams in the industrial heartland of Germany.

The planes, armed with scientist Dr Barnes Wallis' bouncing bombs, flew to the Ruhr Valley either side of midnight on May 16, 1943.

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The raids, carried out by 133 airmen, required the planes to fly just 60ft above the ground to allow the revolutionary bouncing bombs to work.

Although 56 men died on the top secret mission, it was hailed as a success.

Les Munro, the last surviving pilot of the raid, today said he believed the raids were justified due to the effect on morale in Britain.

The 94-year-old, who was born in New Zealand, said: "I believe from an operational point of view they were very successful. The general feeling was the effect on the British morale was really significant and I think from that point alone it was justified and can be categorised as successful."

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RAF Cosford will tonight mark today's anniversary with a lecture on the Dambusters raid at the museum.

Philip Bebb travelled to Cosford this afternoon with his wife Rosemary from their home in Shrewsbury, to see the flypast.

Mr Bebb, who was in the RAF and trained at Shawbury in 1959, said: "It is not the first time we have seen it – we saw it at Shawbury and at the flower show before. It's wonderful to see and it was flying quite a lot lower than normal."

Paul Naylor, from Wem, who was there with his wife Penny, said: "I've seen it probably three or four times and its always impressive. It was nice to see it so low.

"I actually met Barnes Wallis when he gave a lecture at university so have always been interested in the Dambusters."

Shropshire's role in legendary Dambusters raid - See today's Shropshire Star

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