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Thread: WW2 Aircraft Wrecks in the English channel(2008)

  1. #1
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    WW2 Aircraft Wrecks in the English channel(2008)

    Might be a very "greenish" question to ask.. but here goes.

    There must be hundreds and hundreds of aircrafts in the english channel, from Spits to Tiffies to Tempests to FW190 and anything inbetween. There must also be hundreds of planes in close proximity to the shorelines on both sides of the channel.

    Is it totally not possible to at least try a few rescue missions for some of these aircrafts if they can be found? I mean, they did indeed find the Titanic and managed to bring up several artifacts from it. I'm not an expert in channel depths or anything but I would think that if the deep is the problem, there is at least the possibility of some of the ones close to the shorelines?

    Is the problem that parts of these areas are made to be war graves and therefore not reachable? Or is corrotion the major issue and in reality theres nothing left of any planes? Or is it just a matter of economy?
    Author explaining the state of historic aviation;

    "[...] I don't get any fangirls, just old guys trying to tell me stuff I already know."

  2. #2
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    as always i think you will find that "money" is the deciding factor lol

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    i don't proclaim to be any sort of diver or anything, but I'm sure i remember a Channel 4 programme a few years back on the subject of Glen Miller's dissappearance. I seem to remember that a group spent many months chartering the english channle for aircraft wrecks and used remote vehicles to explore the wreckage. All of the aircraft on the video seemed to be severely eroded, to the point in most instances where only the engines (very worn) were left. Somebody came on to say that the english channel has some pretty strong under water currents that due to the very nature of the cold water that flows through there, most of the wreckage byu now will have dissintergrated.

    Only my memory i'm afraid, maybe someone can remember better

    FB

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    A few years ago there was a documentary on the search for Glenn Millers Norseman. They found a likely suspect in the channel, but there was very little left of the metal components. In such a saline environment with strong currents and an active fishing ground, the likelihood is that very little that is salvagable survives, but occasionally planes are found such as the Spit on the beach.

    John

    Oops Fournier boy beat me to it!

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    someones been watching the smirnoff advert!!!

    i think a better bet is the dutch coast. occassionally when they drain and reclaim the land, little gems are found, not as badly worn as those in the channel.

    mind you, i'm sure russia has one or two lying around.
    I PITY THE FOOL

  6. #6
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    There are exceptions, but mostly any aircraft or parts thereof appearing out of the English Channel are in TERRIBLE condition corrosion wise. There are lots of stories about whole aeroplanes on the sea bed, some of them doubtless true, but recovery is another matter. A complete Lancaster (!) was set to be recovered some years ago off Pevensey Bay. All that emerged were four very tatty Merlins that crumbled away if you so much as touched them. There was of course the Me 109 E recovered by Brenzett Museum some years ago, but that again was corrosion riven. I regularly walk the fishing beaches and have had some good finds, but mostly the stuff the fishermen trawl up is beyond any kind of redemption.

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    An interesting question raised, as someone who lives a stones throw from the shore of the channel and interested in such things I can add a few aspects to this.

    The condition of many aircraft wrecks in the channel by now is very poor, most cases the skinning will be non existent or in a poor shape, the winter storms probably have broken up many. I have picked up parts from the beaches after storms and you find the decay is very rapid when out of the sea.

    The ME109E recovered by Brenzett in the 70's was in a poor state and that was 30ish years ago.

    The problem I find mostly is lack of interest from those in the diving community, after many years of trying I have got nowhere they seem to prefer looking at ships and things.

    I have several wrecks I want diving on including a ditched Lancaster reported as complete 20 years ago lying nose down on the seabed.

    The cost and scope of preserving large parts of aircraft to halt deterioration would also be high and complicated.

  8. #8
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    Slightly related to this I was reading a report on a mission to locate the Ark Royal in the Mediterranean. Given that the ship has been underwater for something like 60 years it was surprising to see an aircraft alongside the ship, and looking fairly complete. Is the Med not as corrosive as the channel?
    Link to the Ark mission here http://www.cctechnol.com/uploads/Hydro2004.pdf

    David

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    For chapter and verse on sea/wreck conditions and estimates of the number of losses down load and read the report.

    http://blogs.wessexarch.co.uk/aircraftcrashsitesatsea/

    Regards
    Ross
    Restorer of Canberra PR.9 XH175 and anon (but looking more like 8249) Anson Mk.II

  10. #10
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    In the early years of flypast there were numours reports on wrecks such as Typhoon, Tomahawk, hurricane etc, as well as that these wrecks were planned for recovery, nothing came of it. And this was in the early eighties, the salt water and shingle does nothing for the survival of these wrecks. Or the wreck should be fully submerged in mud to stand any chance.

    Cheers

    Cees
    Ultravox at Lokeren 08.08.09, I was there!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by markstringer View Post
    someones been watching the smirnoff advert!!!
    Or drinking the stuff
    www.warbirdcolour.co.uk

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    I don't often post anything but do read the various threads, however just for a change....I am a regular diver off the south coast of the UK (Newhaven specifically) and of course refer to various dive books about the locations of ditched aircraft which funnily enough interests me.

    All you ever find (if you can even find the site via GPS and echosounder) is the engine(s)...if that. They are always encrusted with sealife and whatnot and you have to look twice to recognise it's even an engine since they often just look like a lump on the seabed.

    I agree with the various comments in this thread already about currents, storms, shifting sands/seabed etc. I would love to find a wreck in better condition but I don't think it's ever going to happen....sadly.

  13. #13
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    Some interesting posts here.

    As posted, corrotion seems to be the issue in most cases. If they had been quicker and with a nose for "future business" they should have gotten into this 40 years ago. The channel isn't really the most clean waters in the world either I would think. Anyways, better not think of this as the potential of a few hundreds Lancasters being corroded away since the war makes me wanna cry.

    So in conclusion, probably nothing is left out of the ordinary. Very sad. Can't keep picking up planes from Norwegians fjords in all eternity!
    Author explaining the state of historic aviation;

    "[...] I don't get any fangirls, just old guys trying to tell me stuff I already know."

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    If Halifax LW170 is found (I hope) at a depth of about a km in the irish sea then we know what the condition of these wrecks will be. If not forget the salt water sites and concentrate on the fresh water latkes of Russia, Norway. The Dutch IJsselmeer contains a lot of wrecks but sof far few complete wrecks have been found, bar the B24 during 1975 and the P47 during 1993, these were substantial and there was relatively light corrosion but so far after having geen actively involved since 1998 with these wet investigations no complete wrecks have been located and fishermen who know the really interesting sites keep them to themselves as that is where the fish will be. there are still possibilities but you cannot go out to find them, they will have to be found first by chance (or you will have to spend a fortune searching the lake, can you imagine how large it is? I can). The shallowness of the lake is another factor being mostly about five metres. Enough for a fighter but a bomber stands less chance. But altogether, if all goes to plan a substantial Lancaster centre section with complete wings may be lifted at the end of this year or the next but i doubt that the Dutch recovery workers will have any plan for the preservation or display at a museum similar to the one in the Berling museum. You need the space first but perhaps it can be done, if the will is there. I keep positive though.

    It's still my dream to find a complete wreck someday, it can be done but the circumstances must be right and then the fun start....

    Cheers

    cees
    Ultravox at Lokeren 08.08.09, I was there!

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    Of course - one has to ask....

    Any news on the P38 up in Wales, thought that must have been dragged out by now!

    FB

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    Quote Originally Posted by DCK View Post
    If they had been quicker and with a nose for "future business" they should have gotten into this 40 years ago.
    Forty years ago people were busy scrapping complete Lancasters (and other aircraft) on land so there was no incentive to wonder what was ‘preserved’ under the sea.
    WA$.

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    I agree with the general consensus about the state of channel aircraft. Its very unlikely, that there is anything mechanical worth recovering.

    However, the main thing still left in the channel, are the airmen who went down with some of the aircraft. No matter the state of their aircraft after so many years in sea water, those men deserves to be recovered, or at the very least found.

  18. #18
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    Sea Recovery

    Off the Norfolk coast, fishermen from time to time trawl up old aircraft parts.

    The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum has some bits on display. Mostly beat up, corroded and holed engines.

    Aluminium fuselages will have long gone for WW2 aircraft.

    Steven
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    Wasn't there an almost complete Avro Manchester recovered from the IJsselmeer during - I think - the 1960's? I vaguely recall reading something about that one... (I could be wrong.)

    I am in full agreement with Mondariz - Any missing airmen deserve to be found and recovered, regardless of the condition of their aircraft.
    Last edited by critter592; 4th June 2008 at 00:38.

  20. #20
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    I wouldn't imagine there would be much left of a salt water located ww2 aircraft ,not after all this time?
    Last edited by Peter; 4th June 2008 at 13:07.
    Cheers,Peter
    "Merlins always drip oil, when they don't....worry!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fournier Boy View Post
    Of course - one has to ask....

    Any news on the P38 up in Wales, thought that must have been dragged out by now!

    FB
    Still completely buried in the sand, I heard very recently + they are in no rush as it has been there 60+ years already & is protected again for now. Think the points already raised here re conservation once uncovered are being considered in depth before they go ahead
    Regards - Nick - Lancashire UK

    "Ex tenebris Lux"

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    North West Aircraft Wrecks

    Aircraft Wrecks: The Walker's Guide

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mondariz View Post
    I agree with the general consensus about the state of channel aircraft. Its very unlikely, that there is anything mechanical worth recovering.

    However, the main thing still left in the channel, are the airmen who went down with some of the aircraft. No matter the state of their aircraft after so many years in sea water, those men deserves to be recovered, or at the very least found.
    I think you will find even less left of the crew than of the aircraft.

    Having dived many wrecks in where lives were lost I never once came across any human remains.
    Even after a few weeks in the water there will be very little flesh left and the abrasive action of the sand and water will wear away the bones. Only chance is if the body is buried in silt fairly quickly.

  23. #23
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    I was recently reading a book on the ocean and apparently sea water softens bones and they then break down quite quickly. An interesting thread, BTW.

    I recall seeing an artefact in the museum at Portleven in Cornwall that consisted of an engine bearer. The bearer was associated with a Beaufighter wreck but was in keeping with having held a Merlin engine. Of course, the Mk IIF had Merlins as a contingency against shortages of the Bristol engine. Amazingly, no one seemed to know that IIFs had operated from Cornwall.
    Last edited by Peter; 16th February 2010 at 15:37. Reason: no need to quote from posts directly above

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by critter592 View Post
    Wasn't there an almost complete Avro Manchester recovered from the IJsselmeer during - I think - the 1960's? I vaguely recall reading something about that one... (I could be wrong.)

    I am in full agreement with Mondariz - Any missing airmen deserve to be found and recovered, regardless of the condition of their aircraft.
    Hi Critter,

    Nothing I know about a Manchester. I do know the general location of a known Manchester wreck but it is in shallow water so the condition will probably be poor (apart from impact damage).

    Several years ago we purchased a large number of engines from a private collector, that where trawled up from the North Sea. The salt water had not been kind to them but some interesting ones such as Sabre and Vulture are on display but they get worse every year. In the case of the Vulture only the cilinders and crankcase were reasonably complete, from the Sabre only the basic engine block with exhausts was left.

    Cheers

    Cees
    Ultravox at Lokeren 08.08.09, I was there!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by critter592 View Post
    Wasn't there an almost complete Avro Manchester recovered from the IJsselmeer during - I think - the 1960's? I vaguely recall reading something about that one... (I could be wrong.)
    I do recall seeing a picture of a B-17 that appeared when they drained one of the areas. IIRC it was scrapped.

    Deep sea wrecks will survive longer as there is less oxygen (and I think less salinity) in the water, so corrosion is inhibited.

    There are still some tantalising options in UK inland waters - the alleged Defiant in Loch Ness being the one that springs to mind.

  26. #26
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    Dave,

    That's probably "Dinah Might", a B17 that was found intact among high grass after the war IIRC. From memory it was stated that the olive drab paint had weathered back to a sort of brick red/pink. There are a number of hotographs of her, but I doubt that it was found after the land was dry. Correct me if I'm wrong but it's probable that it bellylanded at the end of the war and simply left (happened at that time a lot to have it ripped apart by the locals).
    The draining of the areas took place in the early sixties when they found the first wrecks. If you look at what was found after that and what still could be extant in the remaining waters of the IJsselmeer that would be mouthwatering.

    Cees
    Ultravox at Lokeren 08.08.09, I was there!

  27. #27
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    Cees, just wondering what would the chances be of a second round of recoveries similiar to those in the 60s but if major sections or complete airframes are found, will they be retained or scrapped?
    Cheers,Peter
    "Merlins always drip oil, when they don't....worry!"

  28. #28
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    Hi all
    I have in my collection a video of the Airforce Recovery Unit about the recovery of aircraft from the Zuider zee. It was made some time ago as a veteran was taken back to his crashed aircraft, IIRC, a Hillman Avenger. It was narrated by Leo McKern and shows the lengths these men went to to recover the aircraft and, more importantly, the crew. On one recovery they even had to build a road out to a crash site. Well worth getting if it is still available.

    Andy

  29. #29
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    Was it a two door, or a four door?

    Last edited by Peter; 16th February 2010 at 15:37.

  30. #30
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    The Yokel,
    Is the name of the movie "one of our aircraft is no longer missing"?? We have this video and it shows the wreck of a stirling and a B24 as well as a wellington
    Cheers,Peter
    "Merlins always drip oil, when they don't....worry!"

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