World of Warplanes: Dornier 17 Exhibition at RAF Museum

My name is Darren Priday. I’m the deputy manager of the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre. So the museum is always looking for partnerships to help us bring displays like the Dornier to the public. Well, Wargaming have been major sponsors of the project. It is a fascinating system. It’s a unique system. We don’t believe it’s been tried on an aircraft before. It’s not actually water being sprayed. It’s water with citric acid. We had the imperial college in London working with us in the early days. They did some test pieces. Citric acid is what we add to the water to bring the PH back to around 5.3. The crustaceans and the marine growth on the airplane, the idea is real to soften it all up. Then underneath that will be revealed the aluminum metal, which it protected. It crashed in August, 1940, part of the Battle of Britain. We really didn’t know what to expect, but yeah 73 years, she survived quite well. Well we never know what we’re going to look for. What actually happened was that a fisherman had come into a snag. That means he actually caught his nets on this airplane. It’s always lovely to see something that’s so in one piece. You can actually see what it is. The tires are inflated! So when we actually got home, we can research it and we can see exactly what plane I was. Then we realized we had a Dornier. These are some of the items that we’ve managed to reclaim. As you can see, this is a photograph of this chain and sprockets, as it was when it was brought up. And now, remarkably, I think it’s nearly as good as when it was made, considering it’s been under water for 70 odd years in a salt environment. We have a group of volunteers; retired gentlemen who are quite happy to sit at a bench with a small bowl of water, chipping away at the corrosion, wondering “can you guess what it is yet?” So halfway along we find out: “oh yes!” That, amazingly, is an electrical valve. You wouldn’t have thought that would’ve survived at all. We are scraping all the grot that’s accumulated on it, to get down to the original piece of equipment. If you look right now what we have is a huge pile of parts and metal, covered with barnacles… that smells like fish. But, with the mobile app, people can look at the plane as it was when it was all together. Eventually, I suppose they’ll put all these things back together and we’ll get something that kind of looks like an airplane. We do believe in giving back as a company. First off, many of us are history enthusiasts. I’m a historian by training. So, we genuinely love this stuff. May I warmly welcome you to the museum, on behalf of the trustees of the Royal Air Force Museum. I’m delighted to see so many of you here today. First of all, I have to say that the recovery and conservation of the world’s last surviving Dornier Do17 is more than a story of determination and resilience in the face of many challenges. It provides us with a window in the summer of 1940, when young men of many nations battled for Britain’s survival in the skies over southern England. I have on my badge that I’m a trustee of the National Heritage Memorial Fund, so I know this place very well. And I know that I’m surrounded today by passion, enthusiasm and knowledge, and I can’t tell you how invigorating that is. Now it might strike some of you as a bit odd for a video game company to partner with the RAF museum to sponsor the exhibition of a World War II aircraft. But our company is passionate about history. It’s part of who we are. We work with museums because we want to see planes like the Dornier 17 preserved for future generations. It’s one thing to read about the Battle of Britain, but it’s quite another to get up close with the actual hardware and this plane will help museum goers better understand the Battle of Britain, this pivotal battle that Churchill memorialized for the ages as their finest hour. Many people, especially those living overseas, may never have the opportunity to visit this amazing museum, or see the Dornier 17 exhibition. So, we’re going to bring the Dornier to them, thanks to a mobile application called “Apparition,” developed in partnership with the RAF Museum, the University of Wessex, and Redloop, and sponsored by Wargaming. Museums need to speak digital to engage with young people, to get them to understand history, to bring it alive for them, and to turn them on to reading about the past. And we hope that this exhibition will be a step in that direction. So, we’re very proud to be sponsors and to open the Dornier 17 Interpretation Zone today. We hope that it will help people of all ages better understand this historic moment in our common heritage, and to learn from this experience, so we all leave a better world to those who come after us. Thank you.

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