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Television: Lasting legacy of the bouncing bombs; Dambusters Monday, Ch4, 9.00pm.

ON THE morning of May 17, 1943, 19 RAF Lancaster bombers flew a daring mission over Nazi Germany that became one of the most celebrated bombing raids of all time.

Sixty years on, and as the modern-day air force undertake missions over Iraq, Channel 4 marks the anniversary of the Dambusters mission with a special two- part series.

Two programmes examine the achievement of the 133 crew, many barely out of their teens, who undertook one of the most technically challenging and dangerous attacks of the Second World War. And the project puts a current RAF crew through training for the original mission, piloting one of only two surviving flying Lancasters, and making a recreation of the raid using a specially- built simulator.

The pilots meet surviving members of the original crews, now in their 80s, to shed new light on this iconic operation. The programmes also look at the science behind Barnes Wallis's incredible inventiveness.

For producer and director Gary Johnstone, who recently worked with James Cameron on his exploration of Hitler's flagship Bismarck, the films are a timely reminder of the Dambusters' achievement.

"The raid happened at a critical point in the war when the British had very little to celebrate," he says. "The idea of the obsessed `mad scientist' figure with his bouncing bomb inspired the nation. We wanted to avoid myth- making and look at the experience of these young crews.

"These were young men who were told bombing was the only way of hitting back at an aggressor. They did it without question in the near certain knowledge they would die in the process."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 5, 2003
Words:269
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