RAF Museum lifts Nazi bomber off floor of English Channel

RAF Nazi planeRAF Museum lifts Nazi

bomber off floor of

English Channel

Published June 10, 2013

A British Museum successfully completed the haul of the only remaining Nazi Dornier bomber from the World War II Blitz on London from its watery resting place in the English Channel.

The Royal Air Force Museum scrambled Monday to finally recover the plane, after multiple attempts — including the most recent plans to recover the plane at midnight — were scrapped thanks to shoddy weather. The caution is necessary: After all, it’s an historic restoration effort years in the making, said project manager Ian Thirsk, head of collections at the RAF Museum, in an earlier interview with FoxNews.com.

“It’s been three years to plan this project, so the last stages are obviously critical,” Thirsk explained.

The plane, one of a formation of German Dornier Do-17 that Hitler sent to the southeast coast of England in his efforts to blast the country out of World War II, has sat in a shallow grave 60 feet underwater since it was shot down in 1940.

It had been lost for decades, buried beneath the time, the tides and the seafloor of Goodwin Sands, a large sandbank off the coast of Kent County, the last bit of rolling English countryside before Britain gives way to the straits of Dover, 20 or so miles of cold sea, and ultimately, France.

FoxNews.com had previously reported that the museum planned to recover the Dornier-Do 17 during the week of June 2, but inclement weather had prevented the effort from going forward. The first attempt to recover the plane was nearly successful, but the museum called it off, due to high winds.

Sidescan sonar images revealed the silhouette of the craft in 2008, as the shifting sands exposed the perfectly preserved plane for the first time. The Dornier’s very existence is remarkable: It’s a-one-of-a-kind piece of history, he said.

“There are no other Dornier 17s left that we’re aware of,” Thirsk told FoxNews.com. “I really can’t stress enough how important this is.”

The Dornier’s rarity is an odd fact of the era: The hundreds of fighters that England shot down were smelted during the war and reused, ironically turned into British aircraft to continue the battle against the Germans.

‘There are no other Dornier 17s left that we’re aware of. I really can’t stress enough how important this is.’

– Ian Thirsk, head of collections at the RAF Museum

“We’ve got a Spitfire and a Hurricane and a German Messerschmidt,” Peter Dye, director general RAF Museum, told FoxNews.com last month. “All the other aircraft were sent to smelters and recycled, ironically enough into our aircraft.”

“You might say it’s environmentally sound,” he added wryly.

Once pulled from the waters, exposure to air will immediately begin to degrade the plane, Thirsk explained. So the RAF Museum, in conjunction with the Port of London Authority, the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and Imperial College London have designed an elaborate process of preservation.

After a special lift raises the plane from the seafloor, it will be doused with sea water and covered with chemicals and gels to preserve it, before the wing section is removed for transportation.

It will then be driven a few hours down the highway — likely the first time a Nazi craft has navigated England’s roads in half a century.

The preservation process involves a months-long — or even years-long — lemon-juice shower, an odd solution devised by the Imperial College’s Department of Material Science that strips away the Channel’s chemicals and prevents exposure to oxygen.

By washing away the chloride with citric acid, the surface is effectively protected and a barrier to further corrosion built, Dye explained. The process is lengthy, and the entire proceeding will cost roughly half a million pounds (around $750,000). But the uniqueness of the find makes it truly worthwhile, he told FoxNews.com.

“We feel that this is a unique survivor, the only German bomber from the Blitz that’s left. And it’s hugely important to British national history,” he said.


Conservation for big guns that opened Civil War


Conservation for big guns that opened Civil War

Associated Press  By BRUCE SMITH | Associated Press – Sun, Jun 16, 2013

SULLIVANS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — Preservationists are using computer sensors and other high-tech methods to protect massive iron Civil War guns at a fort in South Carolina that fired on Fort Sumter to open the war in April 1861.

The sensors and modern rust-fighting epoxy coatings are being used to preserve historic siege and garrison guns, some of which were used to lob shells at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor when the war erupted. Union forces surrendered 34 hours after the bombardment started as the nation plunged into a bloody, four-year war.

Ten massive guns from Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island, which is part of the Fort Sumter National Monument, were recently conserved as part of an ongoing program to protect the historic pieces from the salty, humid air. The guns were cast in foundries both in the North and South a century and a half ago.

The last of the guns, a 7-ton Union rifled Parrott gun suspended in a yellow sling held by a crane, was slowly jockeyed into place onto a new concrete base last week. It completes what the fort refers to as Cannon Row, where seven of the heavy guns are lined up next to each other.

The conservation work is being done under a multiyear, $900,000 agreement between the National Park Service and the Clemson University Restoration Institute, said Rick Dorrance, chief of resource management at the national monument.

Last winter, institute conservators visited Sumter, where they conserved shells that had landed in the fort walls during the bombardment. The shells were being preserved in place because removing them would damage the fort’s fragile brickwork.

Institute conservator Liisa Nasanen was at Moultrie last week as the last of the heavy guns was returned from weeks of conservation. All but one are now coated with a modern epoxy.

“The paint that was on them was an oil-based coating. That is historically correct, but it’s not something that necessarily does the trick when it comes to keeping the artifact safe,” Nasanen said. “We kind of borrowed ideas, and this epoxy system is something very widely used in the marine industry.”

The one cannon repainted with oil-based paint will allow comparisons as to which system works best.

In addition, sensors have been sealed in the barrels of the cannon to store information on humidity and temperature. The data can be downloaded to a computer to provide continuous monitoring of the iron inside the cannon.

The system is modeled after one used at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park off of Key West, Fla.

In a project started there five years ago, nine of the fort’s 10 large garrison guns have been conserved. The sensor system was developed by conservator Ron Harvey of Tuckerbrooke Conservation of Lincolnville, Maine.

The interior of the barrel is closed and sensors placed in it with 25 pounds silica gel to reduce moisture in the unforgiving marine environment. Fort Jefferson is basically built on a coral reef.

“We still have not hit above 10 percent humidity,” Harvey said. “If we are looking at reconditioning these guns by switching out the silica gel every five to 10 years, that’s not a bad maintenance cycle.”

At Moultrie, even at 150 years old, most of the guns were in good shape when initially checked by conservators, Nasanen said.

“There were variations though. They come from different foundries and have different compositions,” she said. “Some of them that had been on the ground were in worse condition because there would be most exposed to the elements.”

Moultrie’s collection includes some rare Confederate pieces, said Rick Hatcher, historian for the national monument.

“It’s extremely rare to have Civil War combat cannon of this size — siege and garrison guns — in one place where visitors can go see them,” he said. “If you go to Gettysburg or Chickamauga you will see dozens and dozens of field artillery pieces, but it’s very rare to see this many siege and garrison guns.”

That’s because most such guns did not survive after the war, he added.

“With Confederate-made guns, some were kept as trophies of war but others were considered not in that good of condition or maybe not that well-made and they were sold for scrap,” he said, adding even Union pieces were sold. “We had a $3 billion war debt after the Civil War and they were looking for ways of paying it off.”

You wouldn’t need the sensor system for smaller pieces like cannon one sees on a battlefield, because the insides of those barrels can easily be reached for maintenance, Harvey said.

With the 150th anniversary of the conflict, there’s renewed interest in preserving Civil War items, “certainly within the Park Service, but you also see this also in museums and in historical societies within smaller towns,” he said.

Big guns, he said, may not seem exciting to some.

“But you look at the pieces and for some reason, regardless of what the care or lack of care was, they survived,” he said. “As an artist you sign your work, as a conservator you don’t. I love the idea that many, many decades after I’m gone those pieces are still going to be around.”


On the Internet:

Fort Sumter National Monument: http://www.nps.gov/fosu/index.htm

Dry Tortugas National Park: http://www.nps.gov/drto/index.htm

Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain – Japanese American internment camp in Wyoming




A huge thank you to one of my faithful Twitter followers (@kaname650) for sharing these links from @ABC7 (KABC-TV Los Angeles, CA) with me. He and I have discussed in the past how his own mother and her family were taken to the Japanese-American Internment Camp at Heart Mountain, Wyoming during World War II.

abc7.com - KABC Los Angeles NewsWitness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (Part 1)

Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (Part 2)

Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (Part 3)

Witness: The Legacy of Heart Mountain (Part 4)

You can visit Heart Mountain online at http://heartmountain.org/ or on Twitter @ https://twitter.com/HeartMountainWY.

Having visited Cody, Wy multiple times, I kicked myself that we didn’t have enough time to visit Heart Mountain once I discovered it was located just down the road back in 2011. You can bet a visit is in order next time we drive out west.

U.S. finds long-lost diary of top Nazi leader, Hitler aide

Defendant Alfred Rosenberg, the former Chief Nazi Party Ideologist, sits in his jail cell during the 1945 trial of war criminals at Nuremberg(Reuters) – The U.S. government has recovered 400 pages from the long-lost diary of Alfred Rosenberg, a confidant of Adolf Hitler who played a central role in the extermination of millions of Jews and others during World War Two.




Defendant Alfred Rosenberg, the former Chief Nazi Party Ideologist, sits in his jail cell during the International Military Tribunal trial of war criminals at Nuremberg in this photograph taken by a More…
Credit: REUTERS/United States Army Signal Corps/Handout

Hand of Lincoln: Abe’s note saving teen soldier up for sale

Hand of Lincoln: Abe’s note saving teen

soldier up for sale

Read the most recent news piece on The Raab Collection and the Abraham Lincoln document releasing a boy from service in the Union Army.
lincoln composite

Rabb Collection – Buying and Selling Important Historical Autographs and Documents. Raab is an internationally recognized name for historical autographs and documents, providing a focus on quality and significance.