A salvage crew Monday recovered the badly corroded but recognizable remains of a Dornier DO-17 that was shot down off England’s Kent coast during the Battle of Britain 70 years ago, delivering to the terrestrial world what may be the only example of its kind. The aircraft’s propellers were separated and dangling from wreckage, the fuselage was nearly split in two and outboard sections of wing were not attached to the aircraft when it was raised from 50 feet of water. There are plans to put the airframe through a two-year restoration with the goal of placing the aircraft on display at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north London. Museum spokesman Ajay Srivastava told bbc.co.uk, “The aircraft looks great” and that the operation “has been an absolute success.” If authorities are correct in the aircraft’s identification, 70 years ago, the aircraft’s final flight had less successful outcomes for its crew.
Researchers believe the wreck to be that of aircraft call sign 5K-AR. The plane was shot down on Aug. 26, 1940, while the Battle of Britain raged. Two crewmembers are believed to have died in the crash. Two others, including a pilot of the Luftwaffe aircraft, are known to have survived to become prisoners of war. The wreckage was first discovered by divers in 2008. An RAF Museum then paid for a project that confirmed the identity of the aircraft with sonar scans. Experts had hoped to raise the fragile wreck whole, after building an aluminum frame to cradle the parts. That plan was set aside due to cost. While the bulk of the aircraft was recovered in one lift, salvagers expected early this week to perform multiple excursions to recover all related articles. The final effort has been delayed by weather, which changed for the better Monday. A grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund is credited with getting the project started.