A Port of London Authority’s sonar survey of a wrecked Nazi bomber has revealed the rare and historic plane to be almost entirely preserved by the ocean sands.
The plane is a Dornier 17. Once a freight plane for German mail and cargo, it was transformed into a bomb-dropping war machine when the Nazis took power in 1933. By the summer of 1940 it was a mainstay in the Battle of Britain, assaulting cities and RAF airfields with a barrage of bombs.
This particular aircraft — Dornier 17 Z-2, serial number 1160, of number 7 squadron, 3 Group, third Bomber Wing — was shot down on 26 August 1940 and landed, belly-up, in the seas just off the Kent coast. Two of its four crew members were killed while the other two survived to become prisoners of war.
The wrecked aircraft first emerged from the ten-mile long sandbank of Goodwin Sands in 2008. Since then, the RAF Museum and Wessex Archaeology have worked to survey the site and identify the plane. Earlier this month, the Port of London Authority headed out on it’s survey vessel Yantlet to get the most detailed shots of the bomber, yet.
What they found was a plane in remarkably good condition, with its wings intact and some of its undercarriage tyres still inflated. Aside from damage to the forward cockpit, observation windows and propellers, the shifting tidal sands have kept the plane preserved.