Wednesday, 16 October 2013

A Plane for a change - Dornier Do-17Z

Tuesday 15th October

Completely off topic - planes not boats, but an occasion worth noting and mainly so Chris's brother in New Zealand can see the pictures as he is the one who has done all the research into their father's time in the RAF.

Yesterday Chris and I were invited along to the RAF Museum at Cosford for the unveiling of the German bomber (Dornier Do-17Z) that was lifted from the Goodwin Sands back in June.  This is a link to an article in the Sunday Telegraph for some background if anyone is interested and missed it at the time.

Chris and Alan's father (Fred Gash as mentioned in the article) was a rear gunner on Defiants and he and his pilot (Desmond Hughes) were in action that day and claimed a couple of hits, but who actually shot the plane down will probably never be known. 

What is amazing is how well she has survived after 70 decades on the sea floor.  The day started with a chance to wander round and watch some of the volunteers and apprentices cleaning various bits and pieces of the plane.  Such detailed work and more patience than I have required for that job.  I am afraid that I did not take any photos, but the end results are astounding.  I have scanned in some pictures from the programme which give an idea how good they look after they have been worked on. We saw these pieces and they are even more impressive in the flesh.

We had a chance to mingle and chat - we met the son and one of the grandsons of Desmond Hughes amongst others.  Then there were a few speeches.  Peter Dye the Director General of the RAF Museum just welcomed everyone, filled in the background and set the scene.  Next was Kathy Gee - a trustee from the National Heritage Memorial Fund who helped fund the rescue of this unique plane. She actually ended her tenure at the end of September, so this was her last ever 'duty' for them.  She said it was a project they really wanted to succeed and were delighted to help with the funding. Then it was the turn of Tracy Spaight from Wargaming.Net - not a company that might spring to mind for a project like this, but he explained that, as a company, they are always very keen to get the historical details right on all their computer/video games, so the company was another benefactor who has helped this project to get this far.  Finally it was Conrad Dornier the grandson of the man who designed the Dornier planes.  He was actually a Belgian, but lived on the border and ended up working in Germany.  He was very disillusioned with the way things were going around the time of WWII and stopped actively producing new planes as he did not want to help the Nazis.  I found his speech particularly interesting and quite moving.

Then we were let loose!  And oh what a beautiful sunny afternoon - they were so lucky as Monday and today have been horrendous - really wet and wild.

The plane is in two parts and is kept in separate hydration tanks - this was our first view and just check out that sky!  You might like to note that the man in the foreground is Chris - a little smarter than his usual boating gear!!  Chris has just proof read this and his only comment - his hair is not as white as the man in the picture below!  He still has the odd hint of brown in the front and is not used to seeing himself from behind!
The following are some pages from a booklet we were given that gives a lot of detail in a far more concise way than I can:



Right onto the photos - there are a lot of them!  This first section is the fuselage and tail plane hydration tunnel:
















 I am glad I have not got to do this jigsaw puzzle!

Now we are on to the other tank - the wings, engine nacelles and main wheels











 We were both amazed at how intact the propeller is










 More jigsaw puzzles!

There is still a lot of work to do over the next couple of years.  We are planning on keeping an eye on things and hope to take the family in around a year's time.

Outside the tunnels was a space for displays and information:
This area had an audio visual presentation
 The story in three parts


 The route, field of combat and site of the ditching on the Goodwin Sands


All in all a very interesting day.

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