Dambusters' bomb release button goes for £40k at auction
The button from a plane used to release a "bouncing bomb" that destroyed a key dam during World War Two has sold for almost £40,000.
The mission involving the Lancaster Bomber from 617 Squadron was later immortalised in The Dam Busters film.
Its bombs destroyed the Möhne Dam in Germany's Ruhr Valley on 17 May 1943.
Auctioneers said interest in what they described as "one of the most important items from World War Two" had "exceeded expectations".
According to JP Humbert Auctioneers, based near Silverstone in Northamptonshire, the button was pressed by Pilot Officer John Fort on board Lancaster bomber ED 906 AJ-J, which was piloted by David Maltby and was the fifth aircraft to attack the Mohne Dam.
It sold for £39,500 at the "Dambusters Collection" auction earlier.
The button and other items from the plane had been given to the Hydneye House school museum by Squadron Leader David Maltby, whose father was the headmaster.
When the school closed a former pupil acquired the items.
They included four large marbles, which also went under the hammer. that were used by bouncing bomb inventor Barnes Wallis in the development of his weapon.
The marbles fetched £18,500 while an altimeter went for £6,200.
The altimeter was specially fitted at eye level to bomber ED932 AJ-G, piloted by Guy Gibson, to aid in low-level flying on approach to the doomed Möhne Dam.
A cockpit blackout blind from Gibson's plane sold for £640.
Auctioneer Jonathan Humbert said: "We anticipated global interest in these evocative and iconic pieces of 20th Century British history and I am pleased to report that interest exceeded expectation."