#1277 Tornado GR4 & F-35B Lightning II

Tornado GR4 & F-35B Lightning II
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£10.00 €11.67 $12.66
43.8 cm x 29.2 cm
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Tornado GR4; F-35B Lightning II
ZA601 'AJ-G'; ZM137
617 Sqn
RAF Lossiemouth
UK - Air Force
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Squadron Prints Lithograph No. 1277 - 617 Squadron, The Dambusters. No. 617 Squadron formed at Scampton on 21 March 1943 as a heavy bomber unit, specifically for the special task of breaching major dams in Western Germany using Barnes Wallis’ unique ‘bouncing bomb’ UPKEEP. For this task the Squadron was equipped with modified Lancaster B IIIs. After intensive training, 19 aircraft took off on the night of 16 May and attacked four targets, the Möhne and Eder Dams being successfully breached. For his gallantry during this operation the Squadron’s first commanding officer, Wing Commander G P Gibson DSO DFC, was awarded the Victoria Cross. Following the Dams Raid the Squadron was retained for specialist operations, operating from Coningsby and Woodhall Spa. Under the command of Wing Commander G L Cheshire DSO DFC, later awarded the Squadron’s second Victoria Cross for outstanding leadership, it perfected low level target marking and precision bombing. It went on to deliver other Wallis weapons including the 22,000 lb ‘Grand Slam’ and 12,000 lb ‘Tallboy’ bombs; the latter used by the Squadron on 12 November 1944 to successfully sink the Tirpitz. The Squadron moved to Waddington in June 1945 and re-equipped with Lancaster VIIs. 617 Squadron remained in Bomber Command after the war, receiving Lincolns in September 1946 and Canberras in January 1952, disbanding at Binbrook on 15 December 1955 following a deployment to Malaya operating against Communist Terrorists. On 1 May 1958 ‘The Dambusters’ reformed at Scampton with Vulcan B1s as part of the RAF’s V-bomber force. In September 1961 it re-equipped with the B2 version modified to carry the Blue Steel ‘stand-off’ missile. Following the withdrawal of this weapon the Squadron continued in the long-range bombing role until disbanding on 31 December 1981. For its third life it reformed as a strike squadron at Marham on 1 January 1983, flying the Tornado GR1. It has since continued in its precision bombing vein winning many prizes in national and international competitions. During the Gulf War in 1991 the Squadron flew in its established role but also pioneered the use of new Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) equipment. In 1992 the Squadron was deployed to the Gulf for Operation JURAL as part of the UN force monitoring the ‘no-fly’ zone in southern Iraq. In April 1994 the Squadron added Maritime Strike to its list of specialist skills and moved to Lossiemouth re-equipped with Tornado GR1Bs and the Sea Eagle missile. Between 1995 and 1998, the Squadron deployed to Turkey and Saudi Arabia for Operations WARDEN and JURAL as part of the UN force monitoring the ‘no-fly’ zones in northern and southern Iraq. Operating from Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait the Squadron supported Operations BOLTON and RESINATE SOUTH, during which it flew reconnaissance missions and attacked targets in Iraq employing laser-guided bombs. In 2002 the Squadron fully re-equipped with the Tornado GR4, enhancing their night capability and enabling the use of advanced weapons such as Storm Shadow, the precision attack stand-off cruise missile, which the Squadron introduced into RAF service during Operation TELIC. The first Storm Shadow missiles were launched on the 60th Anniversary of the Squadron’s formation. After the War Fighting phase of Operation TELIC the Squadron continued to provide support to operations over Iraq, on a rotational basis, until 2009. In April 2011 ‘The Dambusters’ deployed to Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan flying Close Air Support and Reconnaissance sorties in support of the ISAF mission. During the autumn of 2011 elements of the Squadron provided assistance to operations over Libya, under Operation ELLAMY, including Storm Shadow, DMS Brimstone and Paveway IV weapon firings. In March 2012 ‘The Dambusters’ redeployed to Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan for four months supporting the ISAF Afghan transition. In 2013, the Squadron celebrated its 70th Anniversary and it supported several events throughout the UK to commemorate this significant milestone. 617 Squadron disbanded on 31 March 2014 at RAF Lossiemouth as part of the planned drawdown of the Tornado GR4 Force. It is planned that “The Dambusters” will commence training with the F-35B Lightning II at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina in 2016. They will remain part of VMFAT-501 until the Squadron reforms as 617 Squadron and returns to the UK in 2018.