Second World War Dornier German bomber to be raised from watery grave in the Channel

The historic aircraft was shot down 72 years ago during the Battle of Britain

The only surviving German Second World War Dornier 17 bomber will be raised from its watery grave in the English Channel in an ambitious salvage effort announced today.

The historic aircraft was shot down 72 years ago during the Battle of Britain and the operation to raise it, if successful, will mark the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters.

The bomber, which is in the Goodwin Sands off the Kent coast, was spotted by divers in 2008 lying at a depth of some 50ft on a chalk bed with a small debris field around it.

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

Other than the effects of sea life, such as barnacles, coral and marine life, it is largely intact.

Sonar scans carried out by Wessex Archaeology, the Port of London Authority and the RAF museum have confirmed the identity of the aircraft as the Dornier Do 17Z Werke number 1,160.

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

Lifting it from the sea will take around three weeks using pioneering technology and will have to take place within a given timeframe due to tide and weather conditions.

Retrieving it will be made possible due to 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.

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.

"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. The work will take place at the Michael Beetham Conservation centre, the RAF Museum's conservation centre at Cosford, Shropshire.

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.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "Today marks the beginning of an exciting project to raise the last surviving Dornier Do 17 bomber from the English Channel.

"I'm delighted the RAF Museum and the NHMF have joined forces to make this project possible and I know that it will be a tremendous addition to the museum's collection where it will serve to educate and entertain all who visit."

Dame Jenny Abramsky, chair of the NHMF, said: "This is incredibly exciting news. The Battle of Britain remains one of the most pivotal moments in the history of our country.

"The Dornier Do 17 was one of its main protagonists and therefore the trustees at the NHMF felt it was vital that this, the last known surviving example, be safeguarded."

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.

It is hoped that the aircraft will be raised by the end of this month or early June

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
From Mean Girls to Mamet: Lindsay Lohan
theatre
Sport
Nathaniel Clyne (No 2) drives home his side's second goal past Arsenal’s David Ospina at the Emirates
footballArsenal 1 Southampton 2: Arsène Wenger pays the price for picking reserve side in Capital One Cup
News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
peopleFormer boxer 'watched over' crash victim until ambulance arrived
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
tv
News
i100
Travel
travelGallery And yes, it is indoors
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Tiger Who Came To Tea
booksJudith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed'
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
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

Account Executive/Sales Consultant – Permanent – Hertfordshire - £16-£20k

£16500 - £20000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently r...

KS2 PPA Teacher needed (Mat Cover)- Worthing!

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Crawley: KS2 PPA Teacher currently nee...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Day In a Page

Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

BBC Television Centre

A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

My George!

Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world