The Canal Raids

Weapons available to the RAF

Between 1940 and 1945 the RAF used Hampdens, Lancasters and Mosquitoes for raids against the canals.

The customary bomb loads of these aircraft were: Hampden - 4000lb, Lancaster - 12,000lb, Mosquito - 4000lb.

In the earl raids of 1940 the Hampdens used a mixture of 500lb & 1000lb General Purpose bombs......see below.

In the ill-fated September 1943 raid by 617Sqn the 12,000lb "super cookie" blast bomb (top of the image) was carried by the Lancasters.

In addition to these three bombs, two specialist weapons were deployed.

In 1940, it was realised that a large number of conventional bombs would be required to destroy either aqueduct so a modified
version of the 1500lb sea laying mine was created.

The mine (recorded as 'M' bombs) was fitted with a delayed action mechanism that used soluble aspirin.
Once dropped, a drogue would slow the bomb sufficiently for it not to break up on impact with the water in the canal.
The aspirin would give an approximate 10 minute delay before the mine exploded on the bed of the canal.

Later in the war, on other stretches of the canal, it was decided to breach the banks of the canal in a location that was raised above the surrounding area. For this purpose, the 12,000lb ground penetrating Tallboy was used.

The 12,000lb Tallboy with a 1000lb General Purpose bomb as comparison

In August 1944, the records of 571 Squadron show that each Mosquito was loaded with a 1500lb mine but fitted with a magnetic detonator system (not delayed action as in the 1940 raids).

A 1500lb mine before being loaded into the Mosquito's bomb bay