CLIO mr brice - page 14

Plaque for
Barnes Wallis:
241 New Cross
Road in New
Cross, London
- Wallis’s
residence from
1892 to 1909
Sir Barnes Wallis pioneered much
revolutionary war technology in
the first half of the 2oth century,
and the bouncing bomb is almost
certainly the innovation that
won Wallis his legacy. Wallis’
bouncing bomb was crucial in
Operation Chastise, when it was
used by a squadron of RAF pilots
in the bombing of German dams
in the Ruhr area in World War
2 - an attack that made headlines
worldwide and came to be known as
the ‘dambuster’ raids.
Barnes Wallis was born in
Derbyshire, but came to New
Cross, where his plaque is located,
in 1892. There he attended a South
London grammar school, and did
his apprenticeship at the Thames
Engineering Works in Blackheath.
The apprenticeship led him on to
work for Vickers and the British
Aircraft Corporation, where he
worked on aircraft design.
Wallis’ bouncing bomb was based on the concept of
ricocheting projectiles across water to extend their
range, which had been done with cannonballs for
some time previously. After careful theorising, Wallis
proposed to the Ministry of Aircraft Production in
December 1942 his idea of using this technique to
explode German dams that were crucial for supplying
water to local industry, but which at the time, was being
used for military production. By spinning a bomb,
Wallis realised, the range would be increased and when
the bomb hit the dam, the backspin would draw the
bomb back to the wall of the dam when it bounced off
for explosion.
Wallis was given the go-ahead for testing and over the
next few months testing was carried out on Chesil
beach, Dorset, before the raid that destroyed two dams
and damaged a third was carried out in May 1943 – a
huge propaganda success for the Allies.
A trial for
bomb, or
Sir Barnes Wallis
By Molly Foster
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