A rare German wartime bomber which was discovered on a sandbank 70 years after it was shot down during the Battle of Britain is to be raised, it was announced today.
The twin-engined Dornier 17 first emerged from Goodwin Sands, a ten-mile long sandbank off the coast of Deal, Kent, two years ago, a spokesman for the RAF Museum said.
Since then, the museum has worked with Wessex Archaeology to complete a full survey of the wreck site, usually associated with shipwrecks, before the plane is recovered and eventually exhibited as part of the Battle of Britain Beacon project.
Sands of time: An underwater side scan of a twin-engined Dornier 17 German wartime bomber, found on a sandbank off Deal, Kent, 70 years after it was shot down during the Battle of Britain. The RAF Museum plans to raise the well-preserved aircraft and put it on display
A spokesperson said the aircraft - known as a Flying Pencil due to its sleek design and stick-like lines - was part of a large enemy formation which attempted to attack airfields in Essex on August 26, 1940 but was intercepted by RAF fighter aircraft above Kent before the convoy reached its target.
The plane's pilot, Willi Effmert, attempted to carry out a wheels-up landing on Goodwin Sands but, although he landed safely, the aircraft sank.
He and one other crew member were captured but another two men died.
Bedding down: The 'Flying Pencil' bomber was discovered when a fishing boat snagged its nets on the wreckage two years ago
A spokesperson said the plane was found in 'remarkable' condition considering the years it has spent underwater, and is largely intact with its main undercarriage tyres inflated and its propellers still showing the damage they suffered during its final landing.
Director general of the RAF Museum, Air Vice-Marshal Peter Dye, said: 'The discovery of the Dornier is of national and international importance.
'The aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from the Battle of Britain.
'It is particularly significant because, as a bomber, it formed the heart of the Luftwaffe assault and the subsequent Blitz.
'The Dornier will provide an evocative and moving exhibit that will allow the museum to present the wider story of the Battle of Britain and highlight the sacrifices made by the young men of both air forces and from many nations.'
Work to prepare the Dornier for display will be undertaken at the RAF Museum's conservation centre in Cosford, Shropshire.
The RAF Museum, with the support of English Heritage and the Ministry of Defence, is now developing a recovery plan to protect the aircraft from any further damage and to provide for its long-term preservation.
There is concern that material may have been removed from the wreck site, although a number of items have been retrieved.
Menace of the skies: A photo of a twin-engined Dornier 17 German wartime bomber, similar to the one which has been discovered .