Plane salvage operation put on hold due to bad weather

 

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

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave long-running series
Arts and Entertainment
Game Of Thrones
Uh-oh, winter is coming. Ouch, my eyes! Ygritte’s a goner. Lysa’s a goner. Tywin’s a goner. Look, a dragon
tvSpoiler warning:The British actor says viewers have 'not seen the last' of his character
Sport
The Etihad Stadium, home of Manchester City
premier league

The Independent's live blog of today's Premier League action

News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
voices
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
Arts and Entertainment
tvReview: 'Time Heist' sees a darker side to Peter Capaldi's Doctor
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
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

KS1 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Supply Teacher re...

KS2 Teaching Supply Wakefield

£140 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...

Year 1/2 Teacher

£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...

Primary Teachers Needed for Supply in Wakefield

£140 - £160 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1&2 Supply Te...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam