A German bomber is to be raised from a sandbank off Britain’s south eastern coast 70 years after it crash-landed there during the Battle of Britain.
The Daily Mail said the twin-engine Dornier Do-17 bomber first emerged from Goodwin Sands, a ten-mile stretch of coastline near Deal in Kent two years ago. The Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum and Wessex Archaeology have been working on a full survey of the crash site. Once the survey is complete, the bomber will be recovered and exhibited at the Battle of Britain Beacon project.
Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, Director General of the RAF Museum explained the significance of the find:
“'The discovery of the Dornier is of national and international import. 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.”
The Daily Mail said the Dornier was part of a large German formation aiming to attack RAF airfields in Essex on August 26, 1940. It was intercepted by RAF fighter aircraft as they crossed the coast over Kent and failed to reach their target.
Willi Effmert, the pilot, despite being shot down, carried out a successful landing on Goodwin Sands but the plane sank into the sands. Effmert and another crew member were captured but the two other crew died.
The plane was described as being in “remarkable” condition and is essentially intact with its main tyres still inflated.
The Dornier was a mainstay of the German bomber force but it suffered from a lack of defensive armament and was a twin-engine bomber, whereas the Allies were developing heavier and better armed four-engine aircraft. The German bomber was called the “Flying Pencil” due to its narrow fuselage.
The 'Battle of Britain' refers to a series of air battles fought mostly over south eastern England during WWII from 10 July – 31 October, 1940, which pitted German bombers and fighters against British fighter planes.
Eventually, the German air force, or Luftwaffe, gave way after suffering unacceptable losses. Britain’s successful defence against Nazi German efforts to gain control over its skies was the first major setback suffered by Germany in WWII.