Sir Richard Branson urges public to save Dornier Do-17 found by RAF Museum off Kent coast

By Culture24 Reporter | 31 August 2011
A black and white photo of a wartime plane in the sky dropping bombs
The German Dornier Do-17 was shot down by RAF interceptors over Kent 71 years ago© RAF Museum
Sir Richard Branson has urged the public to help save a German wartime bomber spotted submerged under the English Channel by archeologists working with the  RAF Museum.

The Dornier Do-17, a four-man twin-engine aircraft which could carry 2000lb bombs and was known as The Flying Pencil, was shot down when the Battle of Britain was as its fiercest, having been part of an enemy formation intercepted by RAF fighters 71 years ago.

Using underwater imagery off Goodwin Sands on Deal coast in Kent, experts report the bomber is in “remarkable condition” and largely intact, but say they need £250,000 to recover and restore the plane, which is being damaged by tidal waves, salt water corrosion and potential looters.

Branson, who is a supporter of the museum, said the discovery was of “international importance”, imploring supporters to back the “unique aircraft” as “a tribute to the loss of life on borth sides” of the conflict.

The Dornier will be carefully moved from the wreck site to the museum’s conservation centre at Cosford and prepared for public viewing at the Royal Air Force Museum's proposed new Battle of Britain display at Hendon if the campaign succeeds.

“Our long term plan is to conserve it for display at the Museum,” said Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, the Director General of the museum.

“We very much hope that this exciting project will receive support from the public and become the focus for a collaborative effort by apprentices from across the world.”

Working with Wessex Archaeology, English Heritage, Imperial College London and the Dornier Museum in Germany, the museum’s survey of the site has revealed that the main undercarriage tyres of the wreckage are still inflated, with the propellers showing the damage inflicted during its final landing.

The fundraising bid has already been boosted by a £7,500 donation from the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company and a £6,000 contribution from the museum’s Society of Friends.

Pictures from the wreck site survey:
An infrared scan of an aircraft underwater
The Dornier was shot down on August 26 1940 off the coast of Kent© Port of London Authority/RAF Museum
An infrared scan of an aircraft underwater
The aircraft was part of a formation attempting to attack airfields in Essex© Port of London Authority/RAF Museum
Watch Wessex Archaeology's film of the survey of the Dornier 17

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