L for Leather over the Eder
0130 on 17 May 1943: ‘Cooler 6’ begins attack. Flt Lt Dave Shannon (RAAF) flying Lancaster Type 464 ED929/G, AJ-L (nicknamed “L for Leather”), makes the first run at the undefended Eder Dam during 617 Squadron’s Operation Chastise, watched by mission leader Wing Cdr Guy Gibson in AJ-G. The valley approach makes it extremely difficult to attain the tight release parameters and bomb aimer Flt Sgt Len Sumpter does not yet release the Upkeep revolving depth charge (“bouncing bomb”). The spotlights, offset to starboard so they could be seen from the cockpit, were used to determine the 60ft approach height.
A version of this picture was used on the cover of The Armourer magazine's May/June 2013 edition marking the 70th anniversary of the operation.
Dam reconstructed digitally from a photo by Stephen Thomas and aircraft are extensive reworkings based on photos by Ronnie Macdonald and Tony Hisgett (all used with permission).