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WW2 bomber recovered from the Solent ahead of D-Day 75

A World War 2 plane which crashed into the sea near Portsmouth has been recovered - in time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Specialist divers and archaeologists completed an operation to retrieve the wreckage of a 1943 Fairey Barracuda Torpedo Bomber just in time for the commemorations.

The bomber was found by National Grid engineers last summer and is the only one to have been found in one piece.

The Barracuda wreckage is the last remaining aircraft of its kind in the UK.

It's believed the aircraft, based at Lee-On-Solent, got into difficulty shortly after taking off for its test flight before crashing 500 meters from the coast.

When recovered, the parts will be taken to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset.

Wessex Archaeology lead archaeologist Euan McNeil said:

“Our team has been working closely with all those involved to ensure that any risks to heritage assets on the seafloor are mitigated.

"This aircraft is a rare find and a fantastic opportunity to understand more about a piece of wartime technology.

“We have been undertaking the excavation under a licence from the MoD, and it has taken careful planning to ensure that we lift the remains and any associated material which may have been scattered as it sank – without causing its condition to deteriorate significantly.

"This has involved excavating the silt around the plane and sieving it for artefacts, then carefully dividing the remaining structure into manageable sections for lifting.

“The recovery of the Fairey Barracuda will aid an ongoing Fleet Air Arm Museum project to recreate what will be the world’s only complete example of this type of aircraft.

"This will give us a chance to examine a unique lost piece of aviation history”

Once retrieved, the parts will be taken to the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset where it will be studied and used to rebuild a full-size Barracuda in the site’s aircraft hangar.

David Morris, Curator at The National Museum of the Royal Navy has been working on the project for several years and visited four other Barracuda crash sites to retrieve suitable parts.

He said:

“This is an incredible find and a wonderful piece of British history.

"There are very few blueprints of the Barracuda plane design available so this wreckage will be studied to enable us to see how the plane segments fitted together and how we can use some of the parts we currently have.

“This find is a huge step forward for our project and we can’t wait to get it back to the museum and share our findings with the public.”

The plane’s pilot has been named as SUB LNT DJ Williams who managed to escape the crash and survived WW2.

The team at Wessex Archelogy are currently trying to trace SUB LNT Williams and are keen for anyone with information about the pilot and his family to get in touch on 01722 326867.


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