Nazi warplane lying off UK coast is intact

Fri Apr 8, 2011 5:52pm EDT
 
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By Stefano Ambrogi

LONDON (Reuters) - A rare World War Two German bomber, shot down over the English Channel in 1940 and hidden for years by shifting sands at the bottom of the sea, is so well preserved a British museum wants to raise it.

The Dornier 17 -- thought to be world's last known example -- was hit as it took part in the Battle of Britain.

It ditched in the sea just off the Kent coast, southeast England, in an area known as the Goodwin Sands.

The plane came to rest upside-down in 50 feet of water and has become partially visible from time to time as the sands retreated before being buried again.

Now a high-tech sonar survey undertaken by the Port of London Authority (PLA) has revealed the aircraft to be in a startling state of preservation.

Ian Thirsk, from the RAF Museum at Hendon in London, told the BBC he was "incredulous" when he first heard of its existence and potential preservation.

"This aircraft is a unique aeroplane and it's linked to an iconic event in British history, so its importance cannot be over-emphasized, nationally and internationally," he said.

"It's one of the most significant aeronautical finds of the century."   Continued...

 
<p>A World War Two era German Dornier 17 bomber is seen using high-tech sonar equipment, showing it to be largely intact and well-preserved on the sea floor, in an undated photo off the Kent coast. REUTERS/Port of London/handout</p>