On this day in 1945 – 617 Squadron, RAF first used the Grand Slam: a 22,000 lb (9.98 t) earth quake bomb, on a strategic railroad viaduct in Bielefeld, Germany. The aircraft was commanded by by Squadron Leader C.C. Calder. More details here.
Film of the bomb in action:
Meanwhile over in the 'mad ideas filed' dept, Britain's Daily Telegraph reports;
Nick Squires in Rome, Published: 7:00AM GMT 12 Mar 2010
Air Marshal Arthur 'Bomber' Harris proposed using the Lancasters of 617 Squadron to fly over Rome at "roof-top level" and drop bombs on Il Duce's headquarters and residence in an attempt to kill or maim him, documents in the National Archives at Kew disclose.
The operation, conceived in early July 1943, had the approval of Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary.
In a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, dated 13 July 1943, Eden wrote: "Harris has asked permission to try to bomb Mussolini in his office in Rome and to bomb his residence simultaneously in case the Duce is late that morning.
Eden reported that Mussolini's headquarters, the magnificent Palazzo Venezia in central Rome, and his private residence, Villa Torlonia, were both "unmistakeable" and could easily be identified by British bombers.
Importantly, neither was within 1,500 yards of the Vatican, which the Allies had promised not to damage.
"I suggest that if Mussolini were killed or even badly shaken, at the present time this might greatly increase our chance of knocking Italy out (of the war) at an early date. And I therefore ask your permission to lay the operation on," Eden wrote.
But within two weeks, Mussolini was ousted by the Grand Council of Fascism and replaced by a caretaker government led by King Vittorio Emmanuele III, who negotiated a surrender to the Allies.
Mussolini fled to northern Italy to lead a fascist republic. In April 1945, with total defeat looming, he tried to escape to Switzerland but was captured and summarily executed by Italian partisans near Lake Como.
Christopher Duggan, a historian at the University of Reading and Mussolini biographer, said there were probably other good reasons for not authorising the bombing raid. He said: "It may have been logistically difficult for the bombers to come in low enough to carry out a really good strike. The RAF may have decided that the air defences around Rome were too good.
"And if they had just wounded Mussolini it may have rallied the Italian population around him. There was still a lot of sympathy for Mussolini at this time, so there was the danger that the plan could backfire."
All that and dams too.
PS: Note that the Daily Telegraph uses a still from the Dam Busters film - credited as just 'The Dam Busters'.