In June 2013, a German Dornier Do-17Z, the last surviving bomber of the Battle of Britain, was lifted from the seabed off Britain, lay in 50ft of water at Goodwin Sands, near Ramsgate. It had spent seven decades at the bottom of the English Channel, this was his final flight. A team of 50 specialists from marine recovery company SeaTech, finally lifted the wreckage from the English Channel.
This Dornier Do-17Z, that had stayed on the seabed for seven decades, was discovered by an amateur diver in September 2008. Sonar was commissioned and a 3D model of the underwater plane was created. It was around that time that researchers realized the hulk represented the last surviving Dornier 17 plane in the world.
After successfully salvaged, it was transported more than 200 miles from Ramsgate, Kent, to RAF Cosford in Shropshire.
The discovery and recovery of this Dornier Do-17Z is very important becuase the aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from the Battle of Britain and the Blitz. According to Air Historical Branch and RAF Museum Cosford conservation team this Dornier Do-17Z is Werke no. 1160 and belonged to the 5K + AR, from 7 Staffel, III Gruppe/KG3 (7th Sqn of 3rd Group of Bomber Wing 3). They took off from St Trond aerodrome near Brussels, in occupied Belgium, on the morning of Monday Aug 26, 1940. They carried 16 33lb bombs on board and four crew members each one, and his mission was to attack a Fighter Command airfield at Manston, North Kent. They was detected by the RAF warning systems and the 264 Squadron was sent to intercept them. Then began the fight between the British Defiants fighters and the German Messerschmitt Bf109s fighters. At the end, after shaking them off, the British Defiants could make his work, shot down the German bombers.
Since the salvage a hard work has been made by the RAF Museum Cosford conservation team from then, before the Dornier can go on display. Those have worked on the wreckage at the museum today said the aircraft was in remarkable condition after spending 73 years at the bottom of the sea. Experts have also discovered battle damage on the aircraft. The team at Cosford have carried out intricate checks on the condition of the plane in an attempt to stabilise the aircraft and halt any further corrosion. The aircraft has been kept in two 65ft long, specially made hydration tunnels being sprayed with a citric acid solution and is currently undergoing groundbreaking restoration which is expected to take several months. Staff and volunteers are spending hours cleaning the small components of the plane -- and several of them are already on display at the site's museum. You can read about this restoration project at: rafmuseum.mdx.ac.uk.
More than 1,500 examples of the Dornier Do-17 medium bomber were built between 1934 and 1944. The twin engine, twin fin configuration together with the narrow fuselage and shoulder mounted engines gave the aircraft a distinctive silhouette and earned it the nickname ‘The Flying Pencil’. Over 400 were employed by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. The Germans lost more than 200 Do-17s to all causes during the Battle of Britain and subsequent Blitz.