A wrecked plane recently discovered in Dorset has been dated back to the Battle of Britain. The plane in question is a German Messerschmitt Bf 110, which was shot from the skies by RAF fighters. The discovery was made during an archaeological dig near Lulworth. The plane was shot down in August of 1940, about midway through the Battle of Britain. Over seventy-four years have passed since the plane was destroyed.
Although the plane has been identified as a German Messerschmitt Bf 110, the wreckage of the heavy fighter was far from intact. Many different fragments were found at the site, all from various parts of the plane. Some of the wreckage was from the plane’s propeller, while other fragments were from the plane’s engines. This casualty of the Battle of Britain was discovered due to an archaeological project called Operation Nightingale. This particular dig was aimed at discovery the frame of the aircraft, and indeed led to the discovery of fragments of the plane’s Perspex canopy. In reference to a particular WWII Luftwaffe operation, this particular dig has been dubbed Exercise Adlertag.
Exercise Adlertag was aided by the use of radar technologies and laser scanning. After conducting a number of archaeological surveys, the area was excavated. The team at Wessex Archaeology already had some idea of where to search, as reports from the Battle of Britain indicated that a German plane had been shot down near the Dorset Coast after a number of German planes were intercepted by RAF fighters. This particular heavy fighter crashed into the cliff-side after being shot down, and was subsequently consumed by fire.
Although the Messerschmitt Bf 110 is classed as a heavy fighter, the destruction of this particular model was far from a rare occurrence. The plane was not as agile as many of the RAF fighters used in the Battle of Britain, and was therefore something of an easy target. The aircraft was not particularly useful until later in the Second World War, when the Germans began to use it in conjunction with ground forces, the Culture24 reports.
The Battle of Britain ended in October of 1940. That same month, a Spitfire from 609 Squadron was gunned down over Salisbury Plain. It was actually the mission to excavate this Spitfire that led to the planned excavation of the Messerschmitt. Wessex Archaeology is pleased with the success of the dig, and hopes to further analyze the materials they have discovered to learn more about the planes that were gunned down during the Battle of Britain.