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Bouncing into a new role: Dambusters squadron complete final mission from Scots base

The Dambusters squadron will touch down today on the completion of its last mission before it temporarily disbands.

Created during the Second World War, 617 Squadron carried out the "bouncing bomb" raid to destroy dams in Nazi Germany.

The unit is being disbanded on April 1 as part of the planned draw down of the Tornado GR4 force, but it will reform in 2016, taking delivery of the ''highly advanced'' Lightning II fighter.

The squadron, based at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, left for Afghanistan in October on its final deployment to provide aerial reconnaissance for Afghan-led ground forces.

It is arguably the most famous squadron in the RAF, created in 1943 to carry out attacks with a level of accuracy then unprecedented.

The aircraft they flew carried drum-shaped bombs that bounced over water and exploded at the base of dam walls.

It gained its epithet after its first raid, for which it was initially formed, to destroy dams in the Ruhr valley in Nazi Germany.

Today, RAF pilots fly at least 250ft above ground, but the original Dambusters flew at only 60ft, often at night.

The squadron has twice been disbanded and reformed as it has moved from operating the Lancaster to the Vulcan to the Tornado, in a process that is usual for all RAF squadrons.

When it reforms in 2016, it will be stationed at RAF Marham in Norfolk and have both RAF and Royal Navy personnel.

There are about 175 personnel in 617, who will transfer to other Tornado squadrons, retrain on the Typhoon aircraft, or move to another part of the organisation.

The disbandment opens the way for the move of Typhoon squadrons from Leuchars in Fife to Lossiemouth, with about 350 service personnel moving to the Moray station later this year.

Lightning IIs will be operated from the Royal Navy's two new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers, the first of which is nearing completion at Rosyth, in Fife.

A group of airmen from the Dambusters squadron prepared for their final deployment by completing a 700-mile charity run in a week.

They raised thousands of pounds for Leonard Cheshire Disability, a charity founded by Group Captain Leonard Cheshire who commanded the squadron during the Second World War.

The 70th anniversary of the Dambusters raid was marked in May last year with a service at Lincoln Cathedral and a series of flypasts by Lancaster bombers.

Contextual targeting label: 
Burglary

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