The remains of the Dornier 17 was first found by a fisherman in 2000/2001 who reported snagging his nets upon the wreck. This, then mentioned to a recreational diver, led to an official report of the remains. The aircraft is lying inverted and largely complete on a bed of chalk on Goodwin Sands, with a small debris field around it, apparently comprising panels and lightweight structure, such as flaps and bomb bay doors, torn free in the landing.
The wreck’s inverted position and bent propellers suggests that it ‘ground looped’ on landing. The wreck lies largely proud of the seabed at a depth of some 16m (52ft). It is thought that it has only recently emerged from the sands (perhaps within the last 3 years). A high-resolution side-scan sonar and magnetometer survey was made in 2010 by Wessex Archaeology on behalf of English Heritage.
This is the only known substantially intact Dornier Do 17. A few components from other machines survive, including the rudder, spinner and propeller blade displayed in the Battle of Britain Hall at Hendon. Research by the Air Historical Branch and the RAF Museum suggests that the wreck is Do 17-Z2 Ser No 1160 of 7/III/KG3 (5K + AR) lost on 26 August 1940, the height of the Battle of Britain.
The aircraft is in remarkable condition – considering the events surrounding its loss plus the effects of spending so many years under water. Other than marine concretion it is largely intact, the main undercarriage tyres remain inflated and the propellers clearly show the damage inflicted during their final landing. Starboard tailplane, port rudder, tail fairing cone and tailwheel assembly, flap assemblies, engine cowlings, forward nose glazing and bomb bay and undercarriage doors are missing, though both the main undercarriage units remain retracted and in place. At least two of the original six 7.92mm MG 15 machine guns have sadly been removed during unauthorised dives by ‘sport’ divers.
Image credits: RAF Museum