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Dornier restoration to be unveiled to public at RAF Cosford

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The world's last surviving example of a wartime fighter plane, which was raised from the bottom of the sea, will be unveiled in its new home at RAF Cosford tomorrow.

Visitors to RAF Museum Cosford will be able to see how work is coming on with the painstaking restoration of the Dornier Do 17, which has just moved into the second phase of its conservation.

More than 1,500 examples of the Dornier 17 medium bomber were built.

Its 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".

Technician John Warburton undertaking some of the intricate restoration work on the aircraft at the specialist centre
  • The rare German wartime bomber was discovered on the Goodwin Sands, 70 years after it was shot down in the Battle of Britain
  • It is the world’s only surviving Do-17
  • Research by the Air Historical Branch and RAF Cosford suggests it is Do-17-Z2 Ser No 1160 of 7/III/KG3 (5K + AR)
  • It was part of a large enemy formation intercepted by RAF fighter aircraft on August 26,1940
  • Pilot Willi Effmert attempted a wheels-up landing on Goodwin Sands
  • He touched down safely and the aircraft sank inverted. He and his observer were captured but the other crewmen died.[/breakout]

More than 400 were employed by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain in the Second World War.

It has been a little over 15 months since the aircraft was lifted from the bottom of the Dover Straits and transported to the Museum's Cosford site for ground breaking conservation work.

At the time of the Dornier's recovery, it was unclear just how much of the aircraft could be saved following more than 70 years on the seabed.

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The process so far has seen the aircraft systematically sprayed, inside purpose-built hydration tunnels, with a low concentration citric acid-based solution.

It has helped to remove marine growth and subsequently rust and corrosion in the aluminium aircraft structure.

Darren Priday, conservation centre manager at RAF Museum Cosford, said the project was progressing at a much faster rate than anticipated. The Dornier was placed in a polytunnel when it first arrived at Cosford but is now fit for visitors.

He said the museum was delighted to see second stage conservation work start on the aircraft's forward fuselage.

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"The citric acid solution has worked wonders on the large and small objects inside the hydration tunnels," he said.

"It was a major milestone when the forward fuselage was removed from the treatment area and gave us the first indication that there was light at the end of the tunnel. We are not taking things for granted and we are keeping a careful eye on the section as she is quite fragile, but then anything would be after spending 73 years in the hostile Dover Straits."

Conservation centre manager Darren Priday with a propeller

Confident that the citric acid solution has done its job, the fuselage was removed from the tunnels in early September and has undergone an intense wash down, before being moved into the Conservation Centre. Aircraft technician Andy Woods is now working on the Dornier full time, with initial efforts focused on internal cleaning and removing any remaining marine deposits with the use of plastic scrapers.

The gradual process of removing the thick layer of marine deposits has revealed several bullet holes and shrapnel damage on the airframe, plus small areas of the original paint finish.

While working on some of the smaller components, volunteers discovered push rods still coated in their original oil and when a pipe was removed from a fuel injection unit, a small amount of fuel was still present.

Visitors to the Museum are invited to attend the Conservation Centre Open Week, which will run from Sunday to Saturday between 10.15am and 1pm to see for themselves the progress being made.

Call the museum on (01902) 376200 for more information.

A machine gun has been recovered from the aircraft

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