“We are looking for a black golf ball, in an area the size of two football fields.
However, the fields are covered in brown cricket balls and we are doing it at night with the lights turned off”
Dr Iain Murray (17/07/2010) The day of the Highball Discovery
Most people are familiar with the story of the Dam Busters and the Bouncing Bomb, but few people know that Sir Barnes Wallis also designed a smaller version, named Highball, designed for destroying ships. Based on the same bouncing design but smaller in size, the Highball was designed to bounce across the water before sinking underneath its target to explode. The resulting damage to the ship would be below the water line and very difficult to fix.
The Highball was primarily designed to sink the Tirpitz, a role which fell to miniature submarines and eventually heavy bombers, thus leaving the Highball without the high profile role that had thrust it’s Dam Busting big brother into fame. No complete (or even recognisable) examples of a Highballs exist in museum collections.
However, over 160 dummy Highballs were dropped in Loch Striven during test flights. Following years of research by Iain Murray from Dundee University, a project was conceived to attempt to locate and later raise these test Highballs.
I was lucky enough to be part of the initial reconnaissance phase of the Project, conducted this July. The aim of the project being to locate the initial test area and any remaining Highballs. Following a shaky start of many dives on Highball shaped rocks, and with the help of an ROV from Sheerwater Marine Services Ltd, we finally managed to locate a number of Highballs on the bottom of Loch Striven.
The intention now is to return back to Loch Striven in a continued effort to record this historic environment, before recovering a Highball for display in a Museum.
You can view the full press release regarding the discoveries made during the Highball Bouncing Bomb Reconnaissance Project here
This 44 second clip shows the ROV and Rob diving near the Admiralty anchor that was found standing 3 metres proud of
the seabed in 30msw. The sheer size of the chain link can be seen, with each link being approximately 40cm in length.
This 27 second clip shows Rob diving over the 3rd Highball found along the anchor chain at a depth of 35msw.
The Highball Bouncing Bomb Reconnaissance Project was run by the Archaeological Divers Association with support from Maersk Shipping Company, BAE Systems Ltd, Peter Blacker (Glenstriven Estate), Professional Diving Academy and Shearwater Marine Services Ltd.