Do-17 to be salvaged

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Thorlifter, May 3, 2013.

  1. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    German WWII bomber to be salvaged off UK coast



    LONDON (AP) — A famous German World War II bomber nicknamed "the flying pencil" has spent decades submerged in the English Channel after being shot down in the Battle of Britain. Now, divers are braving dangerous tides to bring it to the surface.

    British officials on Friday announced a complex salvage operation just off the Kent coast in southeastern England to rescue the only known surviving example of the German Dornier Do 17 bomber. The operation is under way and if all the preparations go well, the plane will be lifted from the water in three or four weeks.

    But the director of London's RAF Museum, which has been raising money for the salvage, cautioned that the recovery would be risky — divers will only be able to work for 45 minutes at a time because of perilous tides, and they face other challenges.

    "We are not guaranteed success," Peter Dye said. "There have been previous aircraft recovery projects that didn't go so well, cases where the structure has disintegrated on retrieval. When it breaks the surface, gravity and the laws of mechanics come into play, so we very much hope the frame we've constructed will support that structure."

    Corrosion is another obstacle that could spoil the procedure, he said.

    RAF Museum officials also said the challenging salvage will be the biggest recovery of its kind and they hope to one day display the Do 17, an aircraft nicknamed "the flying pencil" because of its narrow fuselage, at the museum.

    The wreck is submerged in about 60 feet (20 meters) of water. The plane had been shot down during the 1940 Battle of Britain, a months-long clash over the skies of Britain that saw RAF fighters engaged in a colossal life-or-death struggle with the German Luftwaffe.

    Experts said the bomber, discovered by divers five years ago, is remarkably undamaged despite the passage of time.

    Dye said the bomber would be exhibited next to a Hawker Hurricane fighter that had also been shot down during the battle.

    "We feel it's important that they be exhibited side by side," he said, pointing out that two German airmen died in the Dornier. "With time, we recognize that young men died on both sides, which is why we don't intend to restore it. We will conserve it and place it on exhibition alongside the wreck of a Hurricane shot down at much the same time in which a British pilot died."

    Museum officials say the Dornier was shot down on Aug. 26, 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain. It was forced to make an emergency landing on the Goodwin Sands at low tide after it came under attack by British fighter planes. It touched down safely but then sank — two of the crewmen were captured alive and taken prisoner; the other two died. Their bodies were found washed ashore later.

    If the plane is lifted from the Channel without damage, it will still be several years before it can be put on display. It will be packed in a special chemical gel and plastic sheeting to protect it from damage caused by exposure to air, then taken by road to the RAF Museum in Cosford for extensive conservation treatment expected to take two or three years.

    During that time, it will be placed in "hydration tunnels" so that chemicals and salts that accumulated during 70 years underwater can be gently washed away. After that, steps must be taken to stabilize corrosion within the plane itself. Once this is done, the plane should be ready to be put on exhibit at the RAF Museum in London.
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Yep, been watching this for some time, and posting up-dates from the RAF Museum. I hope the weather stays calm, and the lift goes according to plan.
     
  3. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    I believe the lift is planned for tomorrow morning, and the BBC will be covering it
     
  4. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    If you guys get a video link tomorrow of the recovery, I'd appreciate it. I'm sure it will be filmed.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Yes I would love to see it as well.
     
  6. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  7. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Yeah, read about this earlier. Very cool!
     
  8. FalkeEins

    FalkeEins Member

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  9. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Its a big job to lift the Dornier. If you can access the BBC news on the internet you can follow progress.
    The IWM is going to have a very very rare exhibit when the Doirnier is finished.
    Its amazing to thinks its survived all these years !!
     
  10. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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  11. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    There's also a blog on the RAF museum site here that some might find useful.
     
  12. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    The work started yesterday (Friday), but it will be up to four weeks before the aircraft can be lifted, due to limited diving time (45 minutes max per tide) and the tidal currents. I was originally told, by RAF Museum Cosford, that this was due to start in May last year, but has been delayed whilst the 'scientific bits' are perfected, and the lifting 'cage' finalised.
     
  13. ccheese

    ccheese Member In Perpetuity
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    An article, on the salvage of the Do-17 is in this morning's Virginian Pilot. It appears the aircraft rests, upside down, in about 60 feet of water.

    Charles
     
  14. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    That's correct Charles. It ditched the right way up, but turned over as it sank, taking with it two of the crew, whose bodies were later washed up. The bomb bay doors and undercarriage doors were wiped off in the landing, but otherwise, it appears intact. Keeping my fingers crossed that it doesn't break up when it surfaces.
    I was shown the two 'polly tunnels' at Cosford, where the de-salination and initial preservation will take place, and this process will be long and involved.
    BTW, it was apparently downed by a Defiant - the full story can be found at the RAF Museum web site.
     
  15. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hello, people - any update on this?
     
  16. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    A Defiant huh? That's pretty odd and cool! Thanks Terry!
     
  17. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Tomo, as mentioned in my previous post, it will take around four weeks, starting last Friday, before the lift itself actually begins. I'll post more info if or as I receive it, or at least what's notified in the Newsletters I receive regularly.
    I'm going to Cosford for their air show on June 9th, although I doubt the Dornier will be there by then, but I'll ask my contact and, if it is there, ask if I can have a peek!
    I don't hold out much hope on the latter though!!
     
  18. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Okay, looking forward to the updates :)
     
  19. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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  20. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    latest news from RAF Cosford today. The crane is in place, the lift is almost ready to begin, and it's hoped to commence bringing the Dornier to the surface in the next few days!
     
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