The Foxton community hub is hosting the exhibition Dambusters – Boffins, Bravery and Bouncing Bombs until Sunday, May 3.

On the night of May 16, 1943, the specially formed Royal Air Force 617 Squadron carried out Operation Chastise, a daring raid on the Ruhr Dams intended to shorten the war.

What would popularly be known as the Dambusters Raid was a combination of scientific genius, technological innovation, skill and heroic courage.

Airmen flew 19 modified Lancaster bombers to from England to Germany on a mission that was to become one of the most famous episodes of World War II.


The exhibition was created by experts in military history at the Air Force Museum of New Zealand to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Dambusters raids.

It explores the ingenuity behind the 'bouncing bombs' used to break down the dam walls, how the raids were planned, and the aftermath of the raids for both the Royal Air Force's 617 Squadron and the residents of the Ruhr Valley.

It also tells the story of two New Zealanders who took part in the raids. One of these men, Les Munro, was the last surviving Dambuster, passing away aged 96 in 2015. Twelve Kiwi airmen served with the Dambusters Squadron.

Horowhenua District Council cultural and community centre manager Hendrix Warren said the exhibition will have broad appeal.

"Anyone with an interest in military history and World War II will find it fascinating with the captivating stories of the brave crews, the intriguing science and technology, and the interactive experiences will connect with people of all ages and interests.

"Visitors will experience real footage of the bomb trials and the actual sounds of the aircraft. It's like a trip back to the Ruhr Valley in 1943."

Since opening on March 6, the exhibition has already proved popular with young and old alike.

Staff say children enjoy the interactive displays where they look through a replica of a gadget the bombers used and walk around with it to find the point where the bomber had to drop the bouncing bomb onto the dam.


They also find the black and white movies interesting as some have never seen that kind of footage before.

One of the visitors this week told staff when he was a young carpenter working in England at someone's home he saw a photograph on the wall of a Lancaster bomber with the crew standing in front of it.

He asked the homeowner about the image and discovered the man had been one of the pilots of the Dambuster Lancasters.

The Levin man, now in his older years, said he still felt honoured to have been in the presence of one of those RAF pilots.

The exhibition has toured New Zealand and Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom is likely to be the last chance to see it outside the Air Force Museum in Christchurch. The exhibition is free to visit.