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ICE Members help to recover wartime fighter plane

15 April 2019

ICE Members in Shropshire have helped to unearth a Second World War fighter plane almost 80 years after it crashed

ICE Members help to recover wartime fighter plane

The RAF MK1 Hawker Hurricane was carefully excavated in Essex on Saturday 30 March by WM Plant Hire, an excavating contractor based in Shropshire, West Midlands.

ICE Members at the company were a key part of the team involved in recovering the aircraft, and it is hoped that it may be restored to fly once more.

The plane was one of the last of the war planes to fly in the Battle of Britain, sent up on August 26, 1940 to defend the country's airfields against the Luftwaffe.

An example of the type of RAF Mk1 Hawker plane that was found
An example of the type of RAF Mk1 Hawker plane that was found

The pilot Paddy Hemmingway escaped the plane with the engine in flames after being shot from behind. His plane plummeted 17,000ft, landing near the Thames Estuary close to Basildon.

Mr Hemmingway, 21 at the time, is now 99 and one of the last five surviving Battle of Britain pilots.

Excavators used modern imaging technology to find the craft. Project co-ordinator Gareth Jones said it was "quite unique to find one in these ground conditions where it's almost all still there."

A specialist low ground pressure long reach machine on Saturday was used to help excavate some five metres down into the soft ground of the salt marshes, recovering the plane piece by piece.

These fragments of the plane including part of the famous Merlin engine, with Rolls Royce plate still attached, will now be carefully cleaned and restored. The hope is that if enough can be salvaged, the plane might even be rebuilt, forming part of a TV documentary series.

WM Plant Hire's specialist excavating equipment and experienced operators are regularly involved in heritage restoration works nationally, including projects for the National Trust, English Heritage together with emergency works.

ICE member Damian McGettrick, Managing Director said: “It was great to be involved with such a prestigious and historic event and the entire team were rewarded with such a significant find.”

  • Alex Sargeson, public affairs officer