The RAF Museum at Hendon (London) has unveiled a new ‘Dambusters’ Virtual Reality Experience that will undoubtedly be of interest to many readers. The ‘Dams Raid’ was one of the greatest feats of arms ever and is one of the iconic stories from the Second World War. Its success captured the public imagination and has inspired a multitude of books, films and documentaries.
Through the ‘magic’ of virtual reality and haptic technology, in conjunction with a physical full-size recreation of the interior of a Lancaster bomber, the new ‘immersive’ experience allows you to step back in time to the early hours of 17th May 1943 and inside a moment in history. With 360 degree first person views, spatialized audio and haptic feedback vests you can join the ‘Dambusters’ on their legendary mission, on board Lancaster AJ-G ‘George’, piloted by Wing Commander Guy Gibson.
The Dambusters Immersive Experience has been created by All Seeing Eye with input from 617 Squadron’s official historian, Robert Owen. Each detail has been painstakingly recreated using primary accounts from crew members who flew on the mission, with the assistance of experts on Operation 'Chastise' and the Lancaster bomber.
Participants suit up in what looks like a life jacket, but is in fact a so-called haptic vest, which was designed for the gaming industry and allows users to feel the vibration of the Lancaster’s Merlin engines. Stepping inside an accurate physical recreation of a Lancaster, and sitting at either the wireless operator’s position or the navigator’s desk, you become completely immersed in the experience. You can reach out and feel the window, the fuselage and the wireless operator’s desk of the Lancaster bomber, experiencing key events and witnessing decisive moments playing out before you in the aircraft. As the aircraft flies the mission you hear the communication between the crew, you can see ‘your’ aircraft flying at ultra-low level through the windows, and feel the tension increasing as each Lancaster endeavours to break the Mohne Dam, before learning the outcome.
The Dambusters immersive virtual reality experience is situated in Hangar 5 at the RAF Museum Hendon and runs daily from 10.30am to 5.00pm, with an experience length of 10 minutes. Tickets cost £10 and may be pre-booked for time slots up to 2.30pm. After 2.30pm you can just turn up to purchase your ticket from the experience itself, subject to availability. The museum states that the experience is suitable only for visitors aged 13 plus and that “if after reading the terms and conditions, you are still unsure whether you can totally immerse yourself in our Dambusters virtual reality experience and fully enjoy it safely, please consult your doctor before purchasing tickets”, which makes it sound really exciting!
If you have not visited the RAF Museum at Hendon since its multi-million pound upgrade completed in 2018, it is highly recommended. The new Dambusters Virtual Reality Experience adds another reason to make a visit.