The reformed Dambuster squadron will break away from its Second World War counterparts with a new roundel – described as a “grey doughnut” – on the side of each aircraft. Lancaster bombers that took part in 1943’s daring raid to destroy German dams on the Ruhr were emblazoned with Red, White and Blue roundels surrounded by a ring of yellow for higher visibility.
However, visibility is the last thing the RAF’s new 617 squadron wants. Equipped with the latest F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters its crews, which will be deployed from RAF Marham in Norfolk, will want to stay invisible.
“The Dambusters were formed nearly 75 years ago for a very special purpose, to bring cutting-edge technology into service for a very special mission,” said Wing Commander John Butcher, commanding the new team.
“And for me I can see a lot of parallels with what we are being asked to do now.”
The roundel won’t be painted, but built in.
“The name of the game is stealth, so these aircraft will carry no squadron markings at all – just the grey roundel which will identify it as British,” said an RAF source last night.
617 Squadron, disbanded in 2014, was formed in 1943 for the specific task of destroying dams using the “bouncing bomb”. It reformed in December to spearhead RAF stealth missions from RAF Marham and the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth. Each aircraft costs about £85million.