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Forces War Records Blog


Blogger: GemSen If you’ve been following the news and the Forces War Records blog recently then you’ll probably be aware of the current salvage project to rescue a rare German warplane from the  English Channel.

Well, the good news is that after lying in its watery grave for the last 73 years, the Dornier 17 has been successfully lifted and rather amazingly it is also largely intact. Even more astonishing is that the main undercarriage tyres remain inflated, although experts have stated that the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during the bomber's fateful final landing. The aircraft, also known as the flying pencil, was shot down off the coast of Kent over 70 years ago and was one of three types of German bomber that struck Britain during the summer of 1940. Divers became aware of its existence when they spotted it five years ago on a chalk bed at Goodwin Sands, at a depth of around 15 metres (50ft). The Guardian reported yesterday, Monday 10 June, that the plane had been brought to the surface in what is thought to be the biggest recovery of its kind, in British seas. The salvage involved attaching lifting equipment to what experts thought were the strongest parts of the aircraft's frame and raising it whole, in a single lift instead of constructing a cage around it, which was the original plan. The bomber is one of the most significant surviving artefacts from the Battle of Britain and its successful retrieval must be a huge relief for the RAF Museum who are running the project, especially after strong winds have been hampering proceedings. The salvage team wanted to try and lift the Dornier on June 2, but the bad weather made the sea too choppy. Conditions improved yesterday and experts working for the RAF Museum hoisted the remains from the Channel. Pieces fell off as the wreckage was lifted, but they should be retrieved in the next few days. Hundreds of German planes were shot down during the Battle of Britain but none of them survived intact because they were all broken up and melted down to make more planes for the British Air Force. This makes the rare Dornier wreck priceless historically because it is the only known aircraft of its type, in the world.

The National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) was set up to save the country's most precious heritage, and a grant from the fund of more than £345,000 has allowed the work to start.

As reported by the Independent, a museum spokesman Ajay Srivastava said last night: "It has been lifted and is now safely on the barge and in one piece. The operation has been an absolute success, the aircraft looks great and I believe it will be towed into port tomorrow morning."

The wreckage will now be sent to the RAF museum's base at Cosford, Shropshire, for two years of work to conserve and stabilise the remains.It will apparently be placed in two hydration tunnels and soaked in citric acid for the initial stage of its conservation. Once restored, the aircraft will be displayed at the RAF museum's London site where it will be part of a public exhibition 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. Source: Guardian and Independent Have you been following this salvage project? Do or did you have any relatives that were involved in the Battle of Britain? Tell us your stories and comment below... Perhaps you are searching for your ancestors that fought during WWII? Forces War Records have a wealth of records that could aid your research.
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