Dambusters The Opening Shots

Mark Postlethwaite





Dambuster The Opening Shots Mark Postlethwaite

Wing Commander Guy Gibson and his crew make the first attack against the Mohne Dam on the night of 16th May 1943, beginning the legend of the 'Dambusters'.

In 1943 Guy Gibson was selected to command the newly formed 617 Squadron who were tasked to destroy dams in the Ruhr area. To accomplish this they were provided with the bouncing bomb designed and developed by Barnes Wallis. The bombs had to be dropped from 60 feet from a predefined distance to skip across the water into the dam face and then roll down it to explode at predefined depth. To stand any chance of success Operation Chastise had to be flown at night.

Flying at such a low level at night was deemed difficult by even the most experienced pilots. Altimeters (using air pressure) were unreliable in the mountainous terrain so close to the ground. To achieve the correct height they fixed two spotlights to the nose and tail of the Avro Lancaster and directed their beams downwards so that they crossed 60 feet under the craft. The navigator would direct the pilot up or down until the spots touched, forming a figure 8. The bomb aimer found the correct distance from the dam by looking through a simple hand-held wooden triangle with dowel markers. When the dowels lined up with the towers on the dam he released the bomb.

On the night of May 16, 1943, despite the full moon, both Bomber Command and Fighter Command flew a number of sorties which were spread widely over Germany and the Low Countries. As 617 Squadron needed a full moon to carry out their mission, it was thought that the only way they could penetrate German anti-aircraft defences was to fly the whole mission as close to the ground as possible. The 19 Avro Lancasters carried one bomb each. It took five attempts to breach the Moehne Dam. Gibson then led the three remaining Avro Lancasters to attack and breach the Eder Dam. Two other dams were attacked but not breached. Only 11 of the bombers survived the mission; 53 crew members died in the raid.

The devastation caused by the raids was extensive but the Germans managed to rebuild and recover much more quickly than was expected. However they were forced to use assets to protect key installations like dams to a greater extent than they had before. These assets would have been useful on other fronts. The propaganda boost given to the allied war effort was considerable.



The Limited Edition. 250 Signed and Numbered Prints.Print numbers 1 - 200 signed by the artist Mark Postlethwaite only. Print numbers 201-250 individually signed by Flying Officer Ray Grayston,

The Artist Proofs. 30 Signed and Numbered Prints. Signed by the artist Mark Postlethwaite and individually signed by F/O Ray Grayston, Flt Lt 'Steve' Stevens DFC AE and Corporal Maureen Stevens.

The Remarque Edition. 10 Signed and Numbered Prints. Signed by the artist Mark Postlethwaite and individually signed by F/O Ray Grayston and actor Richard Todd who played Guy Gibson in the Dambusters film.


Flying Officer Ray Grayston

Flying Officer Ray Grayston.One of only a handful of survivors who took part in the actual raid. He was the Flight Engineer in Les Knight's crew which attacked and breached the Eder Dam. After the raid, Ray continued to fly with 617 Squadron until he was shot down and captured on the infamous Dortmund-Ems raid a few months later.


Richard Todd

Richard Todd OBE. Richard Todd served as an officer and paratrooper in the British 6th Airborne Division during the Second World War. One of the first British officers to land in Normandy on D-Day, he met up with Major John Howard on Pegasus Bridge. After the war he became a very well known actor with his defining role being that of Guy Gibson in the classic film 'Dambusters'.


Flight Lieutenant Steve Stevens

Flight Lieutenant 'Steve' Stevens DFC AE. A Lancaster pilot with 57 Squadron based at Scampton from May - October 1943, 'Steve' flew a full tour of operations through Bomber Command's darkest period. He was a unique witness to the beginning of Operation Chastise as he lined up his Lancaster for an air test on the evening of 16th May 1943. Having been instructed to hold his aircraft at the edge of the airfield, he watched as Guy Gibson and his 617 Sqn comrades taxied their Lancasters past him with their odd looking mines slung underneath. He then watched them take off with absolutely no idea what they were up to, security on the base really had been watertight!


Corporal Maureen Stevens

Corporal Maureen Stevens. An R/T Operator in the control tower at Scampton in May 1943, Maureen was on duty on the night of the Dams raid and as such she talked the survivors of Operation Chastise back into the circuit for landing. Again she had no idea of the significance of the raid until the following day. Having been married to 'Steve' Stevens since those days, their signatures are unique, not only as rare witnesses to the raid, but also as probably the first husband and wife to sign such an edition!

Matching numbered certificate of authenticity included.

Overall Print Size 27" x 13" (inches) Printed in lightfast inks on acid free archival paper.

To complement the purchase of your fine art print, we are now able to offer a professional Picture Framing service. For further details please click Here



Signed and Numbered Print (Artist signed only)
UK £50.00 Edition Size - 200


Signed and Numbered Print (Signed by the artist & F.O Ray Grayston)
UK £75.00 Edition Size - 50


Artist Proof Edition
UK £95.00 Edition Size - 30


Remarque Edition
Edition Size - 10



Currency converter xe.com
When ordering remarque and artist proof editions, we recommend you email us first to advise on delivery details.
The Aviation Art Gallery accept most major credit and debit cards. Place your order online, or by telephone. If you wish to pay by cheque, or fax your order, please download our printable order form here.


Tel: Overseas


Prices listed are per individual aircraft print (unframed). All prices are in U.K. Pounds Sterling.
We deliver Worldwide and accept most major currencies through secure online ordering. You may view your current exchange rate by clicking the link at the top of this page.


Helpful information regarding our Limited Edition Prints

Limited edition print:

An edition of identical prints, numbered sequentially and individually signed by the artist, having a stated limit to the quantity in the edition. Following publication the printing plates are destroyed. Almost all the aviation art and aircraft prints featured on this website are authenticated with the original signatures of distinguished military personnel.

Artists Proof:

An old tradition of reserving a quantity of prints for the artist's use, usually equal to about 10 % of the edition. In the early days of printing, these prints were the only remuneration the poor artist received. Proofs are signed by the artist and numbered showing the quantity of Artist's Proofs issued in the edition. Because of their highly restricted number, Artist's Proofs are sold at a higher value than the regular prints in the edition.

Publishers Proof:

A quantity of prints, not always announced or issued at the time of publication, usually equal to no more than 10% of the edition. These are reserved for the publisher's use, mostly for donation to Museums, Service establishments, Service Associations, and the like. Quantities of Publishers Proofs, sometimes issued with a supplementary print, may be made available to collectors either at the time of publication, or at a later date, depending upon availability.

Remarqued print:

A print issued with an original pencil drawing by the artist in the margin, each numbered out of the quantity of individually remarqued prints in the edition. The quantity of remarqued prints in any one edition generally is between 25 and 50. Each remarque drawing made by the artist is slightly different, thus making each print totally unique. Remarqued prints may be available at the time of publication, or announced at a later date, depending upon the artist's work load at the time .Please be aware that Remarque prints can take up to six weeks for delivery. An artist remarqued print is the ultimate collector item in terms of reproduced work.

Companion print:

An additional print, usually issued with smaller dimensions, published to compliment a limited edition, and usually issued at the same time.

Matted (or mounted) print:

A print fitted into an acid-free or conservation matt (or mount), ready for framing.

Original drawing:

An original work individually drawn by the artist, completed in pencil, ink, or other medium, and personally signed by the artist. Being an original work each drawing is unique and different.

Certificate of Authenticity:

A certificate issued by the publisher stating the total quantity of prints issued in the edition, confirming authenticity of the signatures, and in the case of a limited edition, inscribed with the matching unique number inscribed on the individual print. Collectors are advised to keep certificates safely as a future means of provenance. All our aviation art and aircraft prints are issued with a certificate of authenticity.



© 2020 Aviation Art Gallery
Limited edition aviation art and aircraft prints from the worlds leading artists

Site map