Dambusters bomb sight brings $63,000 at auction

A bomb sight successfully used to aim a bouncing bomb at the Mohne dam during the famous Dambusters mission has destroyed its estimate at auction.

Designed by English engineer Barnes Wallis, the "bouncing bombs" were built to destroy German targets by skimming along a body of water, avoiding defences beneath the surface.

Dambusters bomb sight
The "most spine-tingling and historical item" the auctioneer has ever sold

They were used to spectacular effect in May 1943 during Operation Chastise, in which the Mohne dam was destroyed and the western Ruhr region flooded. The mission caused the destruction of several factories and mines along with two hydroelectric power stations, and the deaths of more than 1,600 people.

The mission of 617 Squadron was later immortalised in the classic 1955 WWII film The Dam Busters, starring Michael Redgrave and Richard Todd.

The 'Dann' bomb sight offered at auction, named after its designer Wing Cdr C L Dann, originated from the AJ-J, the fifth aircraft to attack the dam - piloted by Flt Lt David Maltby. Pilot Officer John Fort used the sight successfully, dropping the first bomb of the mission to make a direct strike on the dam, causing a large breach.

Following the end of the war, the sight remained in Maltby's family before being displayed at the school museum of Hydneye House in East Sussex. After passing to a former pupil, it landed on the auction block at JP Humbert in Northampton this week with an estimated value of up to £25,000 and finally sold for £41,500 ($62,925).

In an interview with the BBC, auctioneer Jonathan Humbert described the item as the "most spine-tingling and historical" he has ever sold, "synonymous with heroism of the highest order".  

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