Metal thieves ruin plans to display rare Nazi plane at Lashenden Air Warfare Museum
Curator Trevor Matthews
with a model of the Fieseler Fi103 R-1V Reichenberg
by Nick Lillitos
A project to house a rare Nazi rocket plane – one of only six
left in the world – has fallen victim to metal thieves.
And a white Transit van seen in the area could be a vital clue
in the manhunt by Kent Police.
Lashenden Air Warfare Museum only took possession of the plane
two weeks ago after engineers refurbishment in Munich.
But thieves have stolen the 10 reinforced steel girders from an
outside area at the back of the museum in Headcorn.
The metal is crucial to supporting a new hangar for the manned
missile, which is 26ft 3in long with a wingspan of 18ft 9in. The
girders are 9ft in length and worth about £1,000.
It has taken months of painstaking fundraising among the people
of Kent to refurbish the plane and find the money to build the
The captured rocket
plane, without warhead, at its base in Dannenberg, Germany
So far £72,000 has been raised, much of which was spent on
restorations and moving the plane from Germany to Kent.
But £40,000 was still needed to complete its new home.
To keep the refurbished rocket plane in tip-top shape, the new
hangar requires climate-controlled equipment.
"We need the funds even more now that all of our steel uprights
to support the roof have been stolen," said curator Trevor
"To say we are devastated is putting it mildly. This will mean
we need to raise funds again to purchase more, not to mention the
lead-in time required.
"It could put the project back about 18 months. These thieves
are parasites with no respect or feelings for anybody."
He added: "I hope this appeal to find them will help police.
Someone in Kent must know them."
An American soldier
trying out the rocket's cockpit as the German base commander faces
questioning in 1945
A Kent Police spokesman said the girders were stolen between
11.15am and 11.40am on Monday, March 11.
He said: "A white Transit van in the area was noticed shortly
before the discovery. Anybody with information should dial 101,
The rocket plane is the Fieseler Fi103 R-1V Reichenberg. It
never flew in combat, although 175 of them were built.
As Adolf Hitler focused on British targets, including Buckingham
Palace and Number 10, he was willing to use the plane that flew at
500mph and packed a 1,874lb warhead to ensure pinpoint
It would have been carried under the belly of a bomber, then
released with a pilot inside at the last minute.
Its development was abandoned after test flights proved
disappointing with two pilots killed.
- Click here for more Maidstone news...
- Click here for more news from across the county...