Virtual reality lets public experience Dambusters raid

The public are being invited to recreate the Dambusters raid aboard a Lancaster Bomber in a new virtual reality experience.

Users are transported through the historic moment, with the ability to see inside and outside the aircraft as it attacks the Mohne Dam, at the Royal Air Force Museum London.

‘Operation Chastise’ took place in the early hours of May 17, 1943, destroying three heavily-protected dams in the Ruhr valley.

The museum enlisted its team of historians to make Dambusters: Immersive Histories as historically accurate as possible.

Dambuster VR experience
Visitors can access the cockpit to experience what the pilots could hear and see (RAF Museum)

It is based on real people and events aboard a No. 617 Squadron Lancaster Bomber during Operation Chastise, piloted by Wing Commander Guy Gibson.

Kris Hendrix, a historian at the museum, said: “This is not just a video game slowed down.

“This is a very truthful, historical document, so the people you see inside the Lancaster are based on real people.

“We know their names, we know where they were born, we know their ranks.

“You can actually see them, you hear their accent, over the intercom there is an Australian accent – an Australian bomb aimer who you see in the front.

Dambusters
Operation Chastise (PA Graphics)

“Even a lot of the conversations, which have been written down, are all there.”

Visitors can wear haptic vests, which replicate the vibrations from the Lancaster’s Merlin engine.

Two people can take part in the experience, in the place of flight lieutenant Robert Hutchison, a wireless operator, and Harlo Torger Taerum, a navigator.

Operation Chastise was hailed a success after two of the dams, the Eder and the Mohne, were breached. They released 300 million tonnes of water.

The parapet of the Sorpe dam was damaged, although there was no breach.

A total 19 aircraft and 133 aircrew took part in the raid, and 53 died. Many hundreds of civilians were killed.

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