In the years following World War II, British aviation engineer Barnes Wallis — the brilliant aircraft engineer credited with designing the “Dambuster” bouncing bomb — turned his attention to more advanced aircraft designs, including variable wing (swing-wing) aircraft capable of supersonic flight. One of his most famous concepts was the “Swallow,” an elegant tail-less plane he hoped would become the mainstay of Britain’s commercial aviation industry. The Swallow plane had four engines mounted in pairs toward the tips of the wings, one above and one below the aerofoil. These pivoted along all three axes, serving in place of a rudder, ailerons and elevators.
The earthquake bomb, or seismic bomb, was a concept that was invented by the British aeronautical engineer Barnes Wallis early in World War II and subsequently developed and used during the war against strategic targets in Europe. The most notable earthquake bombs developed by Wallis was the Tallboy and Grand Slam.
Documentary uncovering the history behind Operation Chastise, an attack on German dams carried out on 16–17 May 1943 by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently publicised as the “Dam Busters”, using a specially developed “bouncing bomb” invented and developed by Sir Barnes Wallis. The Möhne and Eder Dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of the surrounding villages.
As Britain and France declared war on Germany and fighting began across Europe in September 1939, Barnes Wallis asked himself what he, as an engineer and aircraft designer, could do to shorten the war. Barnes Wallis’ April 1942 paper “Spherical Bomb — Surface Torpedo” described a method of attack in which a weapon would be bounced across water until it struck its target, then sinking to explode underwater, much like a depth charge. Bouncing it across the surface would allow it to be aimed directly at its target, while avoiding underwater defences, as well as some above the surface, and such a weapon would take advantage of the “bubble pulse” effect typical of underwater explosions, greatly increasing its effectiveness: Wallis’s paper identified suitable targets as hydro-electric dams “and floating vessels moored in calm waters. The following footage shows testing of the Highball bouncing bomb, developed in parallel to the infamous Upkeep bomb, at Ashley Walk Bomb Range.
Airship R100 was a privately built rigid British airship, made as part of a two-ship competition to develop a commercial airship service for use on British Empire routes as part of the Imperial Airship Scheme. R100 was built by the Airship Guarantee Company, a specially-created subsidiary of the armaments firm, Vickers-Armstrongs, with a design team headed by Barnes Wallis and also included Nevil Shute Norway as the senior stress engineer. R100 first flew in November 1929. It made a series of trial flights and a successful return crossing of the Atlantic in July–August 1930.