The bouncing Bomb, also known as Upkeep, was an innovative bomb developed by British engineer Barnes Wallis during World War II. The Bomb was designed to bounce on the surface of the water, skipping over the protective barriers and torpedo nets that protected German dams and other waterways from attack.
The concept behind the bouncing Bomb was to exploit the phenomenon of surface tension, which allows a sphere to skip or bounce off a surface if it is rotating at a high enough speed.
To achieve this, Wallis designed a bomb that was cylindrical in shape and fitted with a backspin mechanism that would rotate it at around 500 revolutions per minute. The backspin would cause the Bomb to skip across the water’s surface like a stone, rather than sinking into it.
The Bomb was designed to be dropped from a specific altitude and speed by a specially modified Lancaster bomber piloted by skilled RAF pilots. The aircraft had to fly at precisely 60 feet above the water and 232 mph to achieve the right conditions for the Bomb to bounce.
Once released, the Bomb would skip along the water until it reached the dam, where it would sink to the bottom and explode, causing significant damage to the structure.
The first successful mission using the bouncing Bomb was Operation Chastise, which was carried out on the night of 16-17 May 1943. The operation targeted the Ruhr dams in Germany, which were a key component of the country’s industrial infrastructure.
A total of 19 Lancaster bombers, each carrying a single bouncing bomb, took part in the operation. Of these, eight were shot down, and three were damaged, but the mission was ultimately successful, with two of the three targeted dams being breached.
The bouncing Bomb was a significant technological achievement, and its success in destroying the Ruhr dams significantly impacted the course of the war.
It also paved the way for the development of other innovative weapons, such as the Grand Slam bomb and Tallboy bomb, which were designed to penetrate deep underground structures.