Salvaging the Dornier Do 17

Only one Dornier Do 17 bomber is still in existence, and up until last year it resided at the bottom of the English Channel. Thanks to a project to salvage the bomber, that is no longer the case. Now, work is continuing to complete the salvage of what is left from the plane. While the paint job is no longer intact, much of the marine waste on the surface of the Dornier Do 17 has been eradicated.

Annihilation of such waste has resulted in numerous apparent progressions in the plane’s repair. Oxidization of the surface has not resulted in too much rusting or other such damage, and the overall physical stability of the Dornier Do 17 may not be great but is no worse off than when it was first pulled from the channel. The metal itself is nearly pristine in nature, with the fuselage as well as engine covering having been treated to astounding success. This is a great start to the long process of repairing the rare aircraft.

Technically, the authenticity of the plane is still not verified, as nobody has been able to locate the Werke plate that would provide the plane’s identity beyond the shadow of a doubt. Still, researchers are relatively certain that they are in fact working on the last remaining Dornier Do 17, even without the ability to provide a serial number. They have also learned something of its destruction, as it appears to have been fired upon and crashed into the sea with heavy damage to one of the wings that caused an inverted landing.

Completion of the current work is projected to take place in about a year and a half, making the plane available for public display. There is some consideration of just how the plane should best be displayed. It has been suggested that since the Dornier Do 17 was found upside down, it should be put on display in the same fashion. No decision regarding this aesthetic choice has yet been reached, the Royal Air Force Museum reports.

Due to the level of disrepair in which the Dornier Do 17 was found, it will likely have to be exhibited with some added structural support. Even at the time of its manufacture, certain parts of the plane were less sturdy than others, and these have not been aided by the duration of time it has spent underwater. Most other changes to the Dornier Do 17 will be entirely for the sake of appearance, as the current desire is to preserve the plane as found.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE