Mission 21: Operation Chastise (critical mission). I’m really proud of fishpockets. He used his star-navigation skills perfectly, and got us to the target without ever having to go to low altitude. I’m also proud of RichVR. He got in the ventral turret once we got up high, and even though he was wearing plimsolls so that he could scoot around the plane faster as the engineer, he never complained, even as I’m sure his feet froze at that altitude. I sure am proud of Miguk: he had just gotten to level 6 and learned how to auto-tag fighters, which relieved us of the need to watch radar and track them manually when things got really hairy. I think he truly felt like a contributing part of the team, now. I can’t say enough about Juan_Raigada and MrCoffee, who kept the fighters off us so effectively that we could afford to make a run in with the experimental bomb without being bothered by anything worse than some paltry small arms fire.
But I’m really most proud of…
…Left_Empty. He took that damn bouncing bomb and dropped it right as the indicators converged, which allowed it to bounce across the water and smash the dam right up, which prompted a celebratory transmission from Wing Commander Biggins. “Top stuff!” he said. “Return to base.” He had never given us a compliment like that before.
I’m not proud of myself. In fact, I blame myself alone for everything that happened afterward. You see, when I was asking Left_Empty to get out of the bombardier’s position and re-occupy the nose gunner spot while I took us to high altitude again, I must have initially clicked on myself. Just for a second, and I don’t think I even gave myself much of a destination – maybe just misclicked a spot next to the pilot seat, and didn’t notice it as I grabbed Left_Empty and directed him to the nose gun. I didn’t see the problem. Until some seconds later, I noticed the plane was starting to nose down, and even then I didn’t quite get it until I saw the red triangle with the flight yoke in it that designates the pilot position. Simultaneous with my horrible realization, the game told me, “The bomber has no pilot! Order any crew member to the pilot seat.” But even as I mashed the Ctrl key to slow down time, I was out of luck, and altitude. The bomber crashed into the river just above the newly destroyed dam. All aboard were killed.
The game is not a roguelike in that you get a replacement aircraft (minus some upgrades) and replacement crew (although of generally lower level) to continue the campaign, even after you completely wipe like this. But out of respect for the dead, I’m going to leave this here.
While the idea of a single Lancaster flying air cover for the HMS Campbeltown is of course ridiculous, modified Avro Lancasters did carry the 9,000-lb “Upkeep” bomb in Operation Chastise, which was essentially a depth charge.
You can also buy a solitaire boardgame about Operation Chastise, called Enemy Coast Ahead: The Dambuster Raid published in 2014 by GMT Games and designed by Jeremy White.
Of the 19 aircraft sent to attack the dams, 8 were lost.
The overall loss rate of RAF Bomber Command aircrew over the course of the war approached a staggering 50%.