Tuesday 7 May 2013

Dornier Found in English Channel

A rare German bomber from the Second World War is set to be raised from the English Channel where it has lain for seven decades, it was announced today.
The retrieval of the last surviving Dornier Do 17 from the Goodwin Sands off the coast of Kent will be the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters.
The aircraft was first spotted by divers in 2008, lying 50ft below the surface on a chalk bed, surrounded by debris.

Sonar scans carried out by the RAF Museum, Wessex Archaeology and the Port of London Authority confirmed that the plane is the Dornier Do 17Z Werke number 1160, which was shot down during the Battle of Britain.
Two of its four-man crew were killed as it crashed into the sea, but the other two were captured and taken into custody as prisoners of war.
The plane, which is said to be in 'remarkable condition', was one of the Luftwaffe's 'flying pencil' bombers, named for their narrow fuselage.

It is covered in coral, barnacles and other marine life, but is otherwise largely intact.
The main undercarriage tyres remain inflated and the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during the bomber's final crash landing.
Lifting the plane from the sea will take around three weeks using pioneering technology, and will be dependent on tides and weather conditions.

A frame will be built around the aircraft underwater, and will then be slowly winched up and placed on a floating platform.
The operation has been made possible by a grant of more than £345,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.
Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, director general of the RAF Museum, said: 'The discovery and recovery of the Dornier is of national and international importance.
'The aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from the Battle of Britain and the Blitz.
'It will provide an evocative and moving exhibit that will allow the museum to present the wider story of the Battle of Britain and highlight the sacrifices made by the young men of both air forces and from many nations.'
When the Dornier has been recovered, it will be prepared for display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, North London.

The preservation work will take place at the museum's conservation centre in Cosford, Shropshire, where the plane will be placed in two hydration tunnels and soaked in citric acid.