RAF Museum bid to save Luftwaffe Dornier Do 17 bomber postponed

By Culture24 Reporter | 03 June 2013

The attempt to raise the last surviving Luftwaffe Dornier Do 17 bomber, submerged at Goodwin Sands off the coast of Kent, has been postponed for at least a week after bad weather conditions forced the salvage team to return to their port four times.

Dive company SeaTech had hoped to lift the German plane from the sea near Deal, where it has remained for the past 70 years, in an operation on Sunday culminating three weeks of hard work by experts.

But organisers at the Royal Air Force Museum, who have overseen a month of frequent dives by the team, said they would “alter their methodology” in the construction of the lifting frame, targeting the strongest parts of the plane in a plan which will be “more delicate in nature”.

“We have adapted the design to minimise the loads on the airframe during the lift while allowing the recovery to occur within the limited time remaining,” said Peter Dye, the museum’s Director General, outlining a rethink which aims to keep the Dornier fully intact during a single lift.

“The RAF Museum has worked extremely closely with SeaTech throughout this process. 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.”

A £345,000 grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund saw the team set a three-week timescale to complete their mission. Their deadline remains strict for a potentially momentous archaeological achievement.

The museum is pledging to examine and care for as many parts of the Dornier as possible if the operation fails to salvage every part of its ancient target.

More pictures:

A photo of a man standing on a boat
Ian Thirsk, the Head of Collections at the museum© RAF Museum
A photo of a series of hydration mechanisms inside a tent
The aircraft will be cared for in hydration tunnels© RAF Museum
A photo of a World War II plane above clouds
A rare colour photograph of a Dornier Do 17Z in flight© RAF Museum
A black and white photo of a German plane during World War Two
The Dornier 17 was first seen in public at Zurich in 1937© RAF Museum
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