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Published: 09:43, 03 September 2010 |
Updated: 09:43, 10 January 2014
A rare German wartime bomber found on the Goodwin Sands will be raised - 70 years after it was blasted out of the sky.
The aircraft - believed to be the last of its kind - was downed during the height of the Battle of Britain over Kent.
It was part of a large enemy formation intercepted by RAF fighters at midday on August 26, 1940.
Loaded with 2000lb of bombs, the twin-engined Dornier 17s - known as The Flying Pencils - had been sent to bomb airfields in Essex.
But British fighters attacked the Dorniers at 13,000ft over Deal before they had reached their target.
The RAF claimed at least six Dorniers were destroyed and one damaged for the loss of three of its own aircraft and two air gunners killed.
One bomber, flown by Feldwebel (Flt Sgt) Willi Effmert, tried a wheels-up landing on the Goodwin Sands.
He touched down safely and the aircraft sank inverted.
Effmert and his observer were captured but the other crewmen died and their bodies were washed ashore later.
Museum bosses have said the aircraft is in remarkable condition – considering the events surrounding its loss plus the effects of spending so many years under water.
It is largely intact, the main undercarriage tyres remain inflated and the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during their final landing.
Since the Dornier emerged from the sands two years ago, the RAF Museum has worked with Wessex Archaeology to complete a full survey of the wreck site.
It is to prepare for the aircraft’s recovery and eventual exhibition at Hendon where it will form a centre-piece in the recently-announced Battle of Britain Beacon project.
Work to conserve and prepare the Dornier for display will be undertaken at the RAF Museum’s conservation centre at Cosford.
Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, director general of the RAF Museum, said: "The discovery of the Dornier is of national and international importance.
"The aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from The Battle of Britain.
"It is particularly significant because, as a bomber, it formed the heart of the Luftwaffe assault and the subsequent Blitz."
The RAF Museum, with the support of English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence, is now developing a recovery plan.
There is concern, however, that material has recently been removed illegally from the wreck site - although a number of items have now been retrieved.
Air Vice-Marshal Dye said: "The Dornier 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."
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