Page name: RR.633 Squadron [Logged in view] [RSS]
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2009-06-14 14:40:11
Last author: Zadius
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633 Squadron is in fact fictional but is commonly regarded as a parody of one of the most famous missions undertaken by RAF Bomber Command's 105 Squadron. (Fortis In Proelis - "Valiant In Battles" is their squadron motto) This mission was a part of Operation Vesuvius, the RAF's counter-strategem against Hitler's V-(Vengeance)-Weapons. It involved numerous bombing raids against V-Weapon production sites, and this book centres on perhaps the most famous of all... the nighttime raid against the Svartfjord complex in July 1943. The character of the squadron's commanding officer Roy Grenville is commonly believed to have been based on Wing Commander Cundall, who was in fact the genuine leader of the squadron at the time of the raid. Even his capture and imprisonment for the remainder of the war after the attack is equivacol to that of Cundall. The Svartfjord raid was rather ambitious in comparison to most others, as the complex sat in the shadow of two seperate mountain peaks, (making conventional bombsights that required a target to be non-shadowed useless) right at the innermost point of a river outlet sheltered on both sides by 800 feet-high cliffs and was not only seriously well built to withstand any type of bomb the allies currently possessed but was also almost completely covered by a glacier which effectively gave the majority of the site an additional layer of approxiamately 20 feet thick armour made of ice. It was the Norwegian resistance that came up with the daring plan that proved successful, and to this day I believe it has never been copied in any other bombing mission. The mosquito bombers were to lauch their bombs into the mountainside rather than aiming at the actual complex, and with the resultant avalanche and rockslide caused simply bury the site beyond recovery. Another notable mission completed by the squadron that is referenced in the book but not actually detailed is the 1941 raid on the Rjukan Deuterium Oxide processing plant. Deuterium is a substance used in stabilising atomic bombs, so thank God they succeeded in destroying the facility completely and delaying Hitler's plans! had the Rjukan raid not been successful, perhaps the V2 site's that were the squadron's later targets would have been packing a far more devastating punch... luckily we will never know. Hmm, this review is dragging on a bit, but perhaps that will demonstrate to you how engrossing and interesting I think this book actually is. While like most of the books I seem to enjoy it may seem rather "macho" in its content, I haven't actually mentioned anything about the romantic plot involved throughout the book between Grenville and his Norwegian resistance contact's sister... so the book does have some less violence/action orientated sections! One last point to close, the book was made into a rather acclaimed film several years ago (well, acclaimed at the time, personally I thought it wasn't too great - if you want a decent old war aviation film I'd suggest Angels One Five, but this isn't a film reviewing section is it?) the most memorable part of the film is probably the actual bombing run through the flak and anti-aircaft fire as the squadron flies along the base of the river outlet between the cliffs towards their target... its actually what inspired George Lucas to film the similar scene of the "first" Star Wars film (Episode IV, as it is now) where Luke and the other resistance pilots attack the Death Star. Bet not a lot of Star Wars fans know that eh? =]
PJR 14th June 2009

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