Excavation of Hurricane crash site.
WWII

Battle Of Britain Hurricane That 'Disappeared' Found Buried Underground

The pilot bailed out but the aircraft plummeted to the ground from 17,000 feet, vanishing underneath more than 30 feet of mud.

Excavation of Hurricane crash site.

A Hurricane shot down by the German Luftwaffe during the Second World War has been unearthed near the Thames Estuary in Essex. 

The pilot, who is still alive today, bailed out but the aircraft plummeted to the ground from 17,000 feet, vanishing underneath more than 30 feet of thick mud in the village of Fobbing.

World War Two aviation enthusiast Roger Pickett, who was helping with the dig, said: "It hit the ground so hard that whatever fuel was in the tanks, [it] just didn't ignite."

"We had a witness who came across here when he was eight and all he saw was a big water-filled hole," said excavation organiser and aviation archaeologist, Gareth Jones.

"The whole Hurricane had disappeared."

 

Thirty years ago, Mr Pickett and a team attempted to recover the aircraft but it proved too difficult. 

"We couldn't go down too deep because it was too muddy," Mr Pickett said.

"We found two undercarriage legs and two Browning machine guns, plus some fragments but we just couldn't go too deep.

"We went down possibly 12,13 feet and it was just flooding so we had to give up."

But hopes were higher for this second excavation attempt.

The Hurricane had been submerged beneath the dense mud for 80 years but after much digging, signs of the historic aircraft surfaced.

99-year-old Paddy Hemingway was the pilot when the Hurricane crashed in Essex.
Ninety-nine-year-old Paddy Hemingway was the pilot when the Hurricane crashed in Essex.

But hopes were higher for this second excavation attempt.

The Hurricane had been submerged beneath the dense mud for 80 years but after much digging, signs of the historic aircraft surfaced.

Parts of the engine were first discovered, then the control column, the tail wheel and a Browning gun.

The propeller hub was later found, suggesting the excavators they had dug as deep as they needed to.

 

As parts of history were rescued from the mud, a flying Hurricane flew over the site as a nod to the aircraft's vital roles over the skies of Britain.

The Hurricane, alongside the Spitfire, were the two main RAF aircraft used during the Battle of Britain in 1940.

During the battle, the more-advanced Spitfire would target the German fighters, while the Hurricane would target enemy bombers, according to the Imperial War Museum.