Barnes Wallis first began to think of producing a bouncing bomb in 1941. He was aware that in the 19th century the British Navy had bounced cannon balls on water to increase their range. He began by carrying out experiments with marbles and a catapult on a tub of water in his garden. Later he tested his prototype at the National Physics Laboratory in Teddington. These tests were successful and the first bouncing bomb was dropped on Chesil Beach in December, 1942.
In February, 1943 Barnes Wallis was told to prepare these bouncing bombs for an attack on the Mohne and Eder dams in the Ruhr. The Dambusters Raid took place on 16th May 1943. The cylindrical bombs, that spun at 500 rpm, were dropped by Guy Gibson and the 617 Squadron at a height of 60 feet and at a speed of 240 miles an hour. The rotating bomb skipped over the water and exploded while sinking to the base of the retaining wall of the dam. The bombing produced heavy floods and badly damaged German production in the Ruhr.
To use the bouncing bomb the pilots had to fly very low and seven out of the 19 aircraft which took part in the raid were brought down by German anti-aircraft guns. The RAF could not sustain such high losses and the bomb was rarely used again during the war.