Scots sub-sea firms re-cover bouncing bombs used to train the RAF in World War 2 ‘Dambuster’ attack

A Dambusters Highball bouncing bomb being raised from Loch Striven PHOTO Henry Paisey
A Dambusters Highball bouncing bomb being raised from Loch Striven PHOTO Henry Paisey

A specialised piece of underwater scanning equipment has been used to locate and identify World War-2 ‘bouncing bombs’ on the bed of a Scottish loch.

GSE Rentals provided the scanning equipment and engineering support to produce sonar images of the sea bed at the dive site which is being explored by the British Sub-Aqua Club

The divers have raised two of the historic ‘Highball’ bouncing bombs like those used by the Dambusters squadron on the successful raid of the Eder Dam in Nazi-controlled Germany. Footage of the Highball bombs being tested was used in the 1955 film, ‘The Dambusters.

The Highball bombs were recovered in perfect condition by divers, thanks to the technical input from Unique Group/ GSE Rentals.

Mike Osterberger, Unique Group’s senior engineer said, “We are pleased that the quality of the images allowed us to identify not only a debris field with a number of Highballs but additional debris that we believe to be side charges from the X Craft type submarine.”

The scanner was pulled by a workboat from fellow Scottish company Aspect Surveys. Sub Sea Tooling Services, based near Aberdeen, also provided an underwater ROV to assist with filming the searches.

Around 200 Highballs have lain at the bottom of Loch Striven in Argyll, for almost 75 years since they were tested by the Royal Navy for use against enemy ships and for the Eder Dam raid in the second world war.

The bombs, which are inactive, were secured by the divers ready for lifting by the Royal Navy and then winched to the surface before being packed, ready for transport in wet tanks containing a special salt-water solution to prevent them from corroding.

Now the aim is to donate the Highballs to two museums so they can be put on public display in time for the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters raid in 2018.

The project has received backing from Mary Stopes-Roe, daughter of the late British engineer, Sir Barnes Wallis, who invented Britain’s bouncing bombs.

Meanwhile, J2 Subsea (Aberdeen, UK), ROV and survey tools rental and sale specialist in subsea services group Acteon, has secured a new distribution agreement with Moog, a global designer and manufacturer of control systems and components.

Chris Curr, Entity Manager – Moog (Tewkesbury), added: “Aberdeen remains the global centre of excellence for the subsea industry, with the highest concentration of ROV companies in the world and our agreement with J2 Subsea gives us an on the ground local presence to serve this market.”

16 August 2017

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An RAF Lancaster bomber drops a Highball bouncing bomb during training at Loch Striven in 1943
An RAF Lancaster bomber drops a Highball bouncing bomb during training at Loch Striven in 1943

 

 

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