WORK is being carried out to preserve a rare German wartime bomber which was discovered on a sandbank 70 years after it was shot down during the Battle of Britain.
The twin-engined Dornier 17 first emerged from Goodwin Sands, a 14km-long sandbank off the coast of Deal, Kent, two years ago, a spokeswoman for the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum said. Since then the RAF Museum has worked with Wessex Archaeology to complete a full survey of the wreck site, usually associated with ship wrecks, before the plane is recovered and exhibited as part of the Battle of Britain Beacon project.
The spokeswoman said the aircraft, known as a Flying Pencil, was part of a large enemy formation which attempted to attack airfields in Essex on August 26, 1940, but was intercepted by RAF fighter aircraft above Kent before the convoy reached its target.
The plane’s pilot, Willi Effmert, attempted to carry out a wheels-up landing on Goodwin Sands but, although he landed safely, the aircraft sank. He and one crew member were captured, but two men died.
The spokeswoman said the plane was found in “remarkable” condition considering the years it has spent underwater, and is largely intact with its main undercarriage tyres inflated and its propellers showing the damage they suffered during its final landing.
Director general of the RAF Museum, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, said: “The discovery of the Dornier is of national and international importance.
“The aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from the Battle of Britain.
“It is particularly significant because, as a bomber, it formed the heart of the Luftwaffe assault and the subsequent Blitz.
“The Dornier 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.”
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