RAF Museum unveils plans to recover preserved German bomber from the Channel

By Richard Moss | 02 September 2010
a geophysical scan showing the outilne of an aeroplane on the seabed
The condition of the German bomber discovered at Goodwin Sands has amazed archaeologists© Wessex Archaeology
The RAF Museum at Hendon is to undertake an ambitious project to recover and preserve the remains of a World War Two German bomber discovered beneath the seabed off the Kent coast.      

Largely intact, the Dornier 17 was found by archaeologists from Wessex Archaeology at Goodwin Sands two years ago – 68 years after it was shot down at the height of the Battle of Britain.

Archaeologists are said to be amazed at the remarkable condition of the aircraft, which despite showing the effects of lying on the seabed still has its tyres inflated and propellers that clearly show the effect of the crash landing. Seabed scans taken of the upside down bomber using geophysics even show the wings intact and the bomb doors open. 

a black and white photograph of a German bomber dropping its payload
The Dornier 17 was known as © RAF Museum Hendon
Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, Director General of the RAF Museum hailed the discovery as being “of national and international importance”.

“The aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from The Battle of Britain,” he said. “It is particularly significant because, as a bomber, it formed the heart of the Luftwaffe assault and the subsequent Blitz.”

Part of a large enemy formation intercepted by the RAF on August 26 1940 as they attempted to attack airfields in Essex, the Dornier was one of six enemy planes downed by Bolton Paul Defiant fighters.

It made a wheels-up crash landing on the beach, and although two of the crew were killed, the pilot - Feldwebel Will Effmert - and one of his crew, were captured before the bomber sank beneath the sea.

a geophysical scan showing the outilne of an aeroplane on the seabed
© Wessex Archaeology
The RAF Museum has been working with Wessex Archaeology, the Ministry of Defence and English Heritage to complete a full survey and protect the remarkable wreck site in preparation for the aircraft’s recovery and eventual exhibition at Hendon. It is hoped the preserved remains will form a centrepiece in the recently announced Battle of Britain Beacon project.

Conservation and preparation for display will be undertaken at the RAF Museum’s award-winning conservation centre at Cosford, where the Museum’s Vickers Wellington is currently undergoing long-term restoration.

Details of the ambitious restoration project will be revealed during the RAF Museum’s Battle of Britain weekend (September 10 – 11) when members of the public will be ale to watch a film about the discovery and learn more about the recovery plan.

Keep up to speed with the latest news about the Battle of Britain 70th anniversary at www.culture24.org.uk/battle-of-britain
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