Divers start raising German WWII bomber


All-Blacks Supporter
Divers start raising German WWII bomber

07:56 Sun May 5 2013

Divers have begun a delicate operation to raise the only German Dornier Do-17 bomber left after World War II from the depths of the English Channel.
The aircraft was shot down during the Battle of Britain in 1940 and the operation to retrieve it is the biggest of its kind in British waters, the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum said.

The bomber was only discovered in 2008 when it was spotted by divers at Goodwin Sands, off the coast of Kent in southeast England.
Sonar scans confirmed it was a Dornier Do-17, and experts say it is in a "remarkable condition".

The painstaking operation to raise it to the surface is expected to take around three weeks.
Divers are building a metal frame around the wreck, which they will use to carefully hoist it the 15 metres from the seabed.
"The discovery and recovery of the Dornier is of national and international importance," said Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, director general of the RAF Museum.

"The aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from the Battle of Britain and the Blitz (the Nazis' intense bombing of London)."
Experts are excited by the find because the bomber is still largely intact, although it is covered in barnacles and some of its aluminium has corroded over the last 70 years.
Amazingly, the main undercarriage tyres remain inflated, but the propellers clearly show the damage that the bomber suffered during its fateful last landing.

Once it is lifted to the surface, work will begin to conserve the Dornier and prepare it for display at the museum's London site.
Dye said the exhibit would "highlight the sacrifices made by the young men of both air forces and from many nations".
The Dornier 17 was nicknamed the Luftwaffe's "flying pencil" because of its narrow fuselage.

The Battle of Britain began on July 10, 1940, and ended on October 31 the same year.
More than 2900 British, Commonwealth and Allied airmen took part in some 600 planes - less than half the 1750 German aircraft involved.
Despite being heavily outnumbered, the RAF defeated the Luftwaffe, in what is considered a turning point in World War II.
Hundreds of German bombers were shot down during the battle, but none survived the war - they were all smelted in order to be turned into British aircraft, according to the museum.

It's hard to believe that there is enough remaining to recover.

Obviously the Germans built their aircraft out a lot better material than they do today, back in the 1960s we retrieved a Wessex helicopter that was only in the sea for a number of hours and the damage was so great that it required almost a complete rebuild of all lower skin and frames.
I had actually intended to add it to an earlier post about the discovery of the aircraft but I went back 4-5 pages and found nothing so I started a new thread.

Seriously! That's a long time in salt water, if it had been a fresh water pond...

I don't know the Norwegians found and recovered a FW-190 in 2006.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nnc0C71vbtA"]Focke Wulf 190 recovery - YouTube[/ame]

Here is the result after it had been conserves and put on display in 2010

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B-LA1vsnlU"]FW-190 Gelbe 16 after conservation - YouTube[/ame]
Last edited:
I seem to remember a German bomber being found in Epping Forest North London a few years ago close to a main arterial road. It in very thick undergrowth and virtually impossible to see unless someone tripped over it. Human remains were found if I remember correctly.
Just a bit of an update...

Dornier Do 17 bomber recovery operation on hold

3 June 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
Bad weather disrupts efforts to retrieve a historic war plane from the English Channel [Credit: Port of London Authority]

Attempts of the RAF museum specialists to bring the only surviving German Second World War Dornier Do 17 bomber from its watery grave in the English Channel off the Kent coast have been postponed for at least a week due to bad weather. The operation to retrieve the aircraft was hit by strong winds and had to be suspended.

The aircraft was shot down more than 70 years ago during the Battle of Britain. The project aiming at retrieving it from the seabed is believed to be the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters. According to the museum’s spokesman Ajay Srivastava it was unlikely that any progress would be made during this week as bad weather was expected. The museum hopes the operation will continue as early as possible.
Originally, the team planned to construct a special cage around the aircraft in which the plane would be recovered from water. This strategy was later abandoned as the team believes they can raise the Dornier by attaching lifting equipment to its strongest parts. 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."
Throughout this process, the RAF Museum has worked extremely closely with the dive company SeaTech 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.
Divers discovered the crashed bomber in 2008 lying on the seabed at Goodwin Sands in the depth of 15 meters. Consequently, the RAF Museum, Wessex Archeology and the Port of London Authority performed a series of sonar scans and confirmed it was the Dornier Do 17Z Werke number 1160, nicknamed the Luftwaffe's ‘flying pencil’ bomber because of its narrow fuselage. The aircraft is said to be in remarkable condition. According to experts familiar with the recovery operation, apart from the effects of sea life, such as barnacles, coral and marine life, the plane is largely intact.
Unexpectedly, the main undercarriage tyres remained inflated but the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during the bomber's fateful final landing, experts have 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'', Dye said. ''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. ''
Perhaps equally demanding as the recovery procedure itself will be the delicate process of conservation. The Dornier will be placed in two hydration tunnels and soaked in citric acid for the first stage of its conservation. After that, the aircraft will be displayed at the museum's London site within the context of the Battle of Britain story.
The work is financed by the National Heritage Memorial Fund from a £345,000 grant, which was set up to save the country's most precious heritage. 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 GBP300 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.

WWII Dornier bomber raised from English Channel
10 June 2013 Last updated at 20:26 GMT


A German World War II bomber has been raised from the bottom of the English Channel.
The Dornier Do-17 aircraft was shot down off the Kent coast more than 70 years ago during the Battle of Britain.
Believed to be the only intact example of its kind in the world, it has lain in 50ft (15m) of water on the Goodwin Sands.
Attempts by the RAF Museum to salvage the relic had been hit by strong winds over the last few weeks.
The BBC's Nick Higham on board the salvage barge said the weather conditions for the hour-long operation were "near perfect" on Monday evening.
The salvage almost had to be postponed again when the rope from one of the salvage barge's four anchors got wrapped around its propeller, but the crew were able to free it in time to take advantage of the tidal conditions, our correspondent said.

The aircraft was badly corroded, the fuselage twisted and held in place only by a strut inserted by the salvage team. The engines had come adrift and will not be raised until Tuesday, he added.
The Dornier will be restored at a site in Shropshire before eventually going on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north London.
Museum spokesman Ajay Srivastava said: "It has been lifted and is now safely on the barge and in one piece.
"The operation has been an absolute success, the aircraft looks great and I believe it will be towed into port tomorrow morning."
Originally designed as a fast reconnaissance aircraf, the Dornier had been converted by the Luftwaffe in the mid-1930s into a medium bomber.

It emerged just as the sun was sinking in the west, flying briefly for the first time in over 70 years.
Though covered in barnacles it's clearly a plane. Half the distinctive double tail plane has survived. So has the undercarriage, tyres still fully-inflated.
In places you can see the camouflage paintwork. And both propellers emerged, dangling from the main carcase of the aircraft, twisted but immediately recognisable.
The salvage operation has been dogged by bad weather and some bad luck. But this afternoon the sea was an almost flat calm and there was no wind.
Joe Prill, of Seatech, the specialist diving contractors working for the RAF Museum, decided to risk a lift attempt. Diver Dave Bridger went down to attach the cables to the airframe.
The fuselage broke the surface just before 1830 BST.
There are considerable challenges ahead, not least getting the fragile wreck off its new home on a flat barge for transport by road to the RAF Museum's conservation centre.

But there is delight and relief on board the salvage barge GPS Apollo, even if Darren Priday, of the museum, may have succumbed to understandable euphoria when he joked: "We'll have her flying in a week."
The aircraft was a mainstay of the German bomber fleets during the Battle of Britain in 1940. The wreck is believed to be aircraft call-sign 5K-AR, shot down on 26 August that year at the height of the battle.
Two of the four crew members died and were buried elsewhere, and two - including the pilot - survived to become prisoners of war.
The existence of the aircraft at Goodwin Sands became known when it was spotted by divers in 2008 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.
A grant of more than £345,000 from the National Heritage Memorial Fund allowed the salvage project to start.
The plan was three years in the making and involved divers attaching lifting equipment to what are believed to be the strongest parts of the Dornier's frame and raising it whole, in a single lift.
The original plan to build an aluminium frame or cradle around the fragile wreck was abandoned after it became clear it would take too long and send the £600,000 project way over budget.
A two-year restoration will now take place at the RAF Museum's site in Cosford, Shropshire.
Experts plan to spray the wings and fuselage with water and a combination of citric acid and sodium hydroxide in an attempt to halt corrosion.

It will be a long wait now until we can really see what they have recovered and any other details that might come to light during the stabilising process.
RAF Cosford is an apprentice training unit, they have rebuilt many aircraft over the years and each time did an outstanding job. I have no doubt they will do a good job on this aeroplane.
An update...

RAF Museum Dornier Do 17 Restoration Getting Underway

in Warbird Restorations — by WarbirdsUpdate — August 27, 2013
The larger pieces of the the Dornier Do 17 still receiving their citric acid soak in the specially-constructed hydration tunnels.
(Image Credit: RAF Museum)

It’s just been a couple of months since what is believed to be the last surviving Dornier Do 17 was raised from the Godwin Sands off the coast of England. The remains of the plane which had been sitting underwater for over 70 years, were trucked to the Royal Air Force Museum in Cosford, UK. Since its arrival its fuselage and major components have been placed in hydration tunnels and are kept bathed in a mild citric acid solution to soften and loosen the marine life and corrosion that built up over its many decades submerged in salt water.

Citric acid solution released at timed intervals keeps the wings of the Dornier Do 17 moist and is slowly dissolving away the 70+ years of marine accretions.
(image Credit: RAF Museum)

While the main fuselage and wings will be kept in those hydration tunnels for a long time to come, reportedly 18 months, the museum is nonetheless reporting progress, stating that: “Early indications show that the process is working as the solution is helping to soften up and remove marine accretions, allowing direct access to the airframe structure and the subsequent neutralisation of corrosion impurities.” In addition to the automated spraying taking place in the hydration tunnels, museum personnel have been manually spraying parts of the aircraft and scraping off the accumulated debris with plastic scrapers. A number of smaller components have been painstakingly worked on by the museum’s apprentices and volunteers and some great results achieved. Previously covered in marine accretions, items including an engine valve, empty bullet cases, plus a tube from the flying controls have proved to be in remarkable condition following treatment. A sprocket and roller chain have also been conserved and are working freely once again.

Chain and Sprocket: Before Sprocket: After Chain: After
Engine Valve: Before Engine Valve: After

Final treatment for each item restored, includes a coating it in a layer of renaissance wax or a two part clear paint product in order to protect the item. By trialling various conservation methods employed regularly in museums, the Conservation team can identify those processes most applicable to metals which have been subject to long periods underwater. Darren Priday, the Deputy Conservation Centre Manager at RAF Museum Cosford says: “Any metal removed from a salt water environment is subjected to an accelerated corrosion process if it’s not treated quickly. As the Dornier lay at the bottom of the sea, the currents and tides have effectively been like rubbing sand paper over the aircraft for 73 years but she’s survived remarkably well. This is a truly unique project with lots of unknowns and we are still learning day by day. All the signs from the work we have carried out so far are very positive, but there is still a long way to go. The Museum has recently acquired several thousand original Dornier 17 production drawings which will aid the rebuild process. These invaluable drawings, supplied by European Aeronautical Defence and Space company (EADS), will also assist us to identify parts and can be utilised for partial reconstruction to reinforce any fragile areas.” Visitors to the Museum viewing the Dornier
(Image Credit: RAF Museum)

With much media coverage surrounding the difficult retrieval process, the plane has captured the interest of the public and since the plane’s arrival at Cosford, there have been thousands of visitors at the museum looking through the viewing panels that were installed for the public to get a glimpse of this exceedingly rare warbird, in fact the popularity of the plane was more than anticipated and the museum has since increased the number of viewing ports so visitors can get a better look at the now-famous plane. The museum has also instituted a program for visitors wanting to know more about the aircraft, scheduling volunteers from the museum’s Aerospace Museum Society to work on the Dornier’s components and answer visitor’s questions about the plane and the restoration project on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the museum’s Flight Test Hangar.

They found a complete Wellington bomber in a Scottish Loch a few years ago and apart from the canvas having rotted away it was in good condition
They found a complete Wellington bomber in a Scottish Loch a few years ago and apart from the canvas having rotted away it was in good condition

I watched the raising of the aeroplane on TV, they connected up a battery and the navigations lights came on. Its a pity that the aircraft wasn't refurbished to flying condition, but from what I understand she was too far gone and could only be refurbished to static display. A great pity because as far as I am aware there is not one Vickers Wellington that's airworthy. The Wellington and crews did a lot of sterling work on operations.