Dornier Do 17 bomber plane salvage operation on hold

 

An attempt to bring the only surviving German Second World War Dornier Do 17 bomber from its watery grave in the English Channel has been postponed for at least a week due to bad weather.

The aircraft was shot down more than 70 years ago during the Battle of Britain and the project is believed to be the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters.

But attempts by the RAF Museum to raise the relic have been hit by strong winds over the weeks and the operation has now gone back into port after an unsuccessful try last night that was abandoned due to high winds.

A museum spokesman Ajay Srivastava said that it was unlikely that any attempt would be made this week because of the weather but that another try to bring the aircraft to the surface would commence as soon as the weather improved.

Money and resources remain committed to bringing the wreck up, he said.

The plan to raise the Dornier has had to be adapted and now involves attaching lifting equipment to what are believed to be 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.

It will then be placed on a barge and sent to the museum's conservation centre at Cosford, Shropshire.

Peter Dye, director general of the museum, said: "We have adapted the lifting frame design to minimise the loads on the airframe during the lift while allowing the recovery to occur within the limited time remaining.

"The RAF Museum has worked extremely closely with SeaTech (the dive company) throughout this process and both organisations remain determined to complete this challenging task and see the Dornier safely recovered as planned and delivered to the museum's conservation centre for preservation and public exhibition."

The existence of the aircraft at Goodwin Sands, off the Kent coast, became known when it was spotted by divers in 2008 at a depth of some 50ft lying 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 then confirmed the identity of the aircraft as the Dornier Do 17Z Werke number 1160.

Nicknamed the Luftwaffe's "flying pencil" bombers because of their narrow fuselage, this aircraft is said to be in "remarkable condition".

Experts are excited by the find because other than the effects of sea life, such as barnacles, coral and marine life, it is largely intact.

Amazingly the main undercarriage tyres remain inflated but the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during the bomber's fateful final landing, experts have said.

Lifting it from the sea will need pioneering technology but will be tricky because of tide and weather conditions.

Mr Dye 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."

Once it has been lifted, work will start to conserve and prepare the Dornier 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 (NHMF), which was set up to save the country's most precious heritage, has allowed the work to commence.

The Dornier Do 17 will join a range of more than 1,200 objects and places which have been safeguarded by the NHMF at a cost of more than £300 million.

These include HMS Caroline, the last surviving First World War ship, a rare collection of work by Second World War codebreaker Alan Turing and HMS Alliance, the last surviving submarine of the Second World War.

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
sportWWE latest including Sting vs Triple H, Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns and The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing