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Engineers drafted in to excavate WWII plane in Essex

WM Plant Hire

An iconic World War II plane has been unearthed and excavated by a team of engineers, almost 80 years after crash landing in Essex.

Shropshire-based firm WM Plant Hire led the recovery of the RAF MK1 Hawker Hurricane fighter plane which had been sent up to defend the UK’s airfields against the Luftwaffe on August 26, 1940.

WM Plant Hire supplied a low-ground pressure, long-reach machine to excavate roughly 5m down into the soft ground of the salt marshes and recover the plane piece by piece.

Fragments of the plane including part of its Merlin engine, and its still-attached Rolls Royce plate, are now set to be cleaned and restored.

WM Plant Hire director Damian McGettrick explained: “The team spends its time looking for aircraft from the wars and the research and technology they use is impressive.

“First they talk to survivors and search records of lost aircraft and when they get good intelligence they apply to the MOD for a licence to investigate the site and carry out detailed searches. Using ground penetrating radar, drones and survey equipment they map the site and evaluate what the remains could look like.

“In this instance they knew the plane superstructure would not be intact but were keen to locate the key components including engine, undercarriage and control units. Due to ground conditions, tidal constraints, the SSSI status and nature reserve area, a specialist long reach excavator with very low ground pressure was chosen.”

“It was a real feat of civil engineering,” McGettrick claimed.

Project co-ordinator Gareth Jones added: “[It is] quite unique to find one in these ground conditions where it’s almost all still there.

“The hope is that if enough can be salvaged the plane might even be rebuilt, forming part of a TV documentary series,” a statement from WM Plant Hire revealed.

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