On the anniversary of the famous Dambuster raid a Somerset artist, Mike Fuller has stepped in to raise money for 617 Squadron Association which keeps alive the history of the famous squadron
Mike has produced two limited edition prints and for every one sold a donation will be made to the Association which keeps alive the history of the famous squadron which has been recently reformed and will provide F.35 jets to Britain’s latest aircraft Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.
Mike who lives near Minehead said: “ For many years I was an aircraft illustrator with BAC at Brooklands and used to walk by replicas of the grand slam and tall boy bombs that 617 squadron used on their famous raids.
“Since moving to Somerset I have turned my technical illustrator skills into producing highly detailed prints of famous aircraft, ships and motor cars.
“I am particularly proud that I have been given to opportunity to produce prints of Johnny Johnson’s Aircraft T-Tommy which was involved in the famous raid and he has even signed a few which we will be offering over the next few weeks.”
The second print that Mike has produced is of Laurence (Benny) Goodman’s Lancaster, which attacked the Arnsberg viaduct on March 19th, 1945.
“Benny has signed this print so to have two famous veterans endorsing my work is fantastic,” he said.
The Chairman of 617 Squadron Association, Wg Cdr Andy Walters MBE DFC said: “Mike has provided two stunning prints of these two aircraft which were shown to the veterans at our anniversary dinner at Woodhall Spa on Saturday and they were both delighted. The accuracy is truly amazing and I am sure that they will become collector’s items.”
The artist-signed prints which are limited to 1,000 of each and include the association’s “dams” logo can be obtained directly from Mike and money from each will be donated to 617 Squadron Association.
A4 prints are selling for £25.00 plus posting and packing and A3 for £35. Details of this very limited edition of prints signed by both Mike and the pilots will be announced shortly.
Anyone wishing to purchase either of the two prints should contact; email@example.com or call +44 (0) 1643 821782 and leave a message.
No 617 Squadron was formed at Scampton on 23rd March 1943, under the command of by Wg Cdr Guy Gibson specifically to undertake an operation to breach the Ruhr Dams using Barnes Wallis’ Upkeep weapon – the bouncing bomb. After intensive training, the Mohne and Eder dams were breached on the night of 16/17 May 1943, in a spectacular low-level operation resulting in the loss of 8 of the 19 participating aircraft.
Following this success, the Squadron was retained as a specialist-bombing unit. After a costly low-level attack on the Dortmund Ems Canal in September 1943, Canal command of the Squadron passed to Wg Cdr Leonard Cheshire. Under his leadership, the Squadron mounted highly destructive precision raids on targets in occupied territory, using 12,000lb blast bombs. Using Mosquito aircraft to mark targets, new and even more accurate bombing techniques were pioneered.
On D-Day, the Squadron performed a vital role in deceiving German forces as to the true destination of the invasion fleet.
Precision attacks continued with Barnes Wallis’ 12,000lb “Tallboy” deep penetration bomb, targeting a railway tunnel, U-boat pens, and large V-weapon sites. After completing his 100th operation WgCdr Cheshire relinquished his command to Wg Cdr “Willie” Tait. The autumn of 1944 saw attention turn to the German battleship Tirpitz, which was finally sunk after three operations, one being mounted from Russia.
Dams again featured on the target list, and in October Tallboys dropped from low level breached the KembsBarrage.
The spring of 1945 saw an addition to the Squadron’s arsenal, with the advent of the 22,000 lb Grand Slam. Under the command of Gp Capt Fauquier RCAF the Squadron’s specialist skills and weapons were exploited against railway viaducts and naval targets, culminating in a final operation against Hitler’s Berchtesgaden retreat on April 25, 1945.
Japan’s surrender precluded the Squadron’s participation in Tiger Force, Bomber Command’s contribution to the war in the Far East, and in January 1946 the Squadron was dispatched to India, returning to the UK after four months to commence re-equipment with Avro Lincolns.
The following year saw a goodwill tour of the United States, involving the first direct crossing of the Atlantic by an RAF squadron. January 1952 saw the Squadron re-equip with Canberras. After 10 years of peace, the Squadron again saw action in 1955 with operations against the Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
The Squadron disbanded at the end of 1955 and re-formed on 1 May 1958, again at Scampton, equipped with the Avro Vulcan. As part of V-Force the Squadron’s offensive capability was enhanced in 1963 when it became the first Squadron to become operational with Blue Steel. Reverting back to a low-level conventional role during the 1970s the Squadron’s Vulcans continued to be a familiar sight in the Lincolnshire skies until the Squadron disbanded in December 1981.
Reformed as a Tornado unit at Marham in 1983 the Squadron soon re-confirmed its precision bombing capabilities and in 1984 became the first non-American unit to win not only the Le May but also the Meyer trophies in competition against its American counterparts.
In 1990 the Squadron sent detachments to the Middle East for what was to become the Gulf War 1, where it introduced TIALD laser guidance. After the cease-fire the Squadron crews continued to serve in this theatre, patrolling the Southern “No-Fly” zone. The onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 saw seen the Squadron operational again and on 21 March 2003, exactly 60 years after its formation, the Squadron again had the Honour of introducing the RAF’s latest weapon into operational use – “Storm Shadow” – a conventionally armed stand-off missile capable of precision targeting over a range of up to 175 miles. From 2004 until the Squadron was disbanded in 2014, it was in active Service in Iraq and Afghanistan upholding the Squadron’s enviable reputation for determination and accuracy in the face of fierce resistance. No 617Squadron will reform in 2018 as the UK’s first Joint Strike Fighter (Lightning II) Squadron at RAF Marham.