Saturday, May 4, 2013

German WWII bomber to be salvaged off UK coast

Via Knuckledraggin' My Life Away

 This photo made available on Friday May 3, 2013 by the RAF Museum London shows a formation of German WWII Dornier Do17 bombers. The only known surviving example of the German Dornier Do 17 bomber known as the “flying pencil” is to be salvaged from its watery grave in the English Channel. RAF Museum director Peter Dye said Friday the bomber is roughly 60 feet below the surface and that bringing it to the surface intact will be tricky. (AP Photo/RAF Museum)

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.

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