|Local resident Sir Barnes Wallis
was a scientist and engineer...
truly a national hero...
||In one of his first jobs, Barnes
Wallis created a new design technique - geodetic construction -
assisted by Neville Shute-Norway the novelist, as his chief
calculator. This was used in the the giant R100 airship. It flew
successfully to Montreal in 1930, but sadly was then grounded
following the tragic loss of the rival and design flawed R101 in
||The Wellington was the RAF's most
important heavy bomber for the early years of WW2 - over 11,000 were
built. One of only two surviving Wellingtons can be
seen at Brooklands
museum - it was recovered from Lock Ness in 1985 and is slowly being
restored by enthusiasts. The other aircraft is at the Hendon RAF
||The key feature of the Wimpy, as it
was was nicknamed, was Wallis's unique geodetic
construction. This allowed the aircraft to remain structurally sound despite heavy
damage from AA guns. Similar damage would have destroyed
conventional designs - this saved a lot of lives.
Wallis is most most famous for the "bouncing" bomb which was used by
specially-formed 617 Squadron of the RAF to destroy the Möhne and Eder
dams in Germany's Ruhr district in May 1943.
|| To destroy the dams, a bomb
had to be placed right against the wall, but the raid (arguably the first
precision bombing raid in history) was an astonishing technical success
and a great propaganda victory also, although many aircrew were lost on
the raid. Wallis' greatest victory was perhaps not in getting 9,000 lbs.
of explosive to skip over water to land precisely on target, but that he
convinced the Air Ministry that he could get 9,000 lbs. of explosive to
skip over water to land precisely on target!
Wallis later went on to
design the 6-ton Tallboy and 10-ton Grand Slam earthquake bombs (which
were used successfully against many enemy targets in the later years of
the war) and after the war developed the practicalities of swing-wing
aircraft - the F111 was based closely on his designs, which we handed over
to the Americans on the 50s when British Government funding of development
In an amusing anecdote, Wallis explained
(personally to the author) how they continued the development work for a while after he was obliged
to handover the key information to the Americans - whilst the funds
lasted. He had long believed it should be possible to control the aircraft
without a tail plane through moving the wings independently. They modified
the swing wing flying scale model and proved this concept worked in
practice - however they omitted to tell the Americans - which is why all
swing wing aircraft still use tail planes today!
Wallis worked at Vickers-Armstrongs - during the war he & his R&D
team were based in a dispersed location at Burhill Golf Course and did
early bouncing bomb tests on the nearby Silvermere Lake, using sheds which
now comprise the Cobham Bus Museum.
|| At the end of the war they moved
into the former BARC motoring clubhouse at Brooklands -the pre-war motor
racing circuit - it's contents are preserved today as part of the
Hendon RAF Museum.
Wallis lived at White Hill
House, Beeches Lane, Effingham - a house he built during the 1930s.
He carried out some of his early bouncing bomb experiments on the
|Barnes Wallis was
instrumental in the founding days of the KGV playing fields at
Effingham. He was Chairman of the KGV Management Committee and
negotiated the landscaping of the "bowl" cricket ground. As a fanatic
cricket fan he was keen to see a first class ground in his village,
the County Council wanted to improve the line of the adjacent A246 and
Wallis persuaded them to cut and fill the sloping playing field to
achieve today's superb flat cricket ground. At one stage it was the
back-up ground to The Oval! He was the first Chairman of the Effingham Housing
Association - a charity which built homes for local people - the
most recent development - Barnes Wallis Close was opened by two
members of his family in 2002.
Barnes Wallis died on 30 October 1979
and was buried in St Lawrence Churchyard - just a few yards from KGV
Links to a few Barnes Wallis related web
(All about the bouncing bomb and other inventions)
(more about his family and background)
(BBC history page)