Last surviving German bomber lifted off bottom of the Channel
A German Dornier Do 17 bomber shot down off the Kent coast during the Battle of Britain was recovered from the sea on Monday night.
The World War II Dornier is lifted from the English Channel this evening. Photo: IAIN DUNCAN
By Sam Marsden
9:20PM BST 10 Jun 2013
The RAF Museum salvage team had previously been hampered by strong winds, but a window of good weather allowed them to winch the only surviving Dornier Do 17 bomber from the sea bed.
Covered in rust and barnacles, with its propellers broken off, the aircraft was pulled to a barge at about 6.30pm.
The team tried to lift the plane on June 2, but bad weather thwarted the attempt within 40 minutes of success when an increase in winds made the sea too choppy to complete the operation.
The plan, which was three years in the making, was adapted so lifting equipment could be attached to what were believed to be the strongest parts of the aircraft’s frame and raise it whole, instead of constructing a cage around it.
The aircraft at Goodwin Sands was discovered by divers in 2008 at a depth of 50ft on a chalk bed with a small debris field around it.
Sonar scans by the RAF Museum, Wessex Archaeology and the Port of London Authority confirmed the identity of the aircraft as the Dornier Do 17Z Werke number 1160.
None of the bombers, which were nicknamed “flying pencils” because of their narrow fuselage, were thought to have survived since the Second World War.
The aircraft is said to be in “remarkable condition”. Other than the effects of the sea, such as barnacles, coral and marine life, it is largely intact.
The main undercarriage tyres remain inflated but the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during the bomber’s fateful final landing, experts have said.
Peter Dye, the 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.
“It is a project that has reconciliation and remembrance at its heart.”
The Dornier will be conserved and prepared for display. It will be placed in two hydration tunnels and soaked in citric acid for the first stage of its conservation. Once the delicate process is complete, the aircraft will be displayed at the museum’s London site within the context of the Battle of Britain story.
A grant of more than £345,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, has allowed the work to commence.