ReAgent recently played a part in a ground-breaking conservation project involving the last surviving example of a World War II German bomber aircraft known as the Dornier Do 17. The aircraft was recently salvaged from Goodwin Sands off the Kent coast and delivered to the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford, Shropshire.
We were delighted when conservation experts at the Museum got in touch with us here at ReAgent and asked if we could supply them with citric acid to assist them with the long process of conserving the airframe.
The aircraft’s fuselage and wings are currently housed in two purpose-built tunnels in which they are sprayed up to three times an hour with a low concentration citric acid based solution. This helps to soften up marine deposits on the surface of the metal which are then gently removed with plastic scrapers. The work is painstaking and requires great skill so as not to damage any of the structure.
It is important to keep the metal hydrated with citric acid solution in order to neutralise the effects of corrosion. The Dornier aircraft had been lying on the seabed for nearly 73 years during which time the currents and tides had acted like sandpaper on the metal. Under the circumstances the aircraft has apparently survived remarkably well.
Nicknamed ‘The Flying Pencil’ because of its narrow fuselage, more than 1,500 of these aircraft were built but this is the only known surviving example, having been shot down during the Battle of Britain. The restoration project is exciting new ground for the RAF Museum and represents the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters.
The Director General of the RAF Museum, Air Vice-Marshall Peter Dye says that “the discovery and recovery of the Dornier is of national and international importance as the aircraft is a unique and unprecedented survivor from the Battle of Britain and the Blitz”. It is intended for the restored aircraft to be displayed at the RAF Museum in London.
Further information about the project including some amazing video footage of the moment the aircraft was lifted from the seabed can be found on the Royal Air Force Museum website at www.rafmuseum.org.
At ReAgent we are used to receiving unusual enquiries for chemicals and technical advice but this has to be one of the most important from the perspective of national and international history. We’re delighted to be involved in this exciting project and we’ll keep you posted with any further news.