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Greek divers lift WWII German bomber wreckage caught in fishnets October 7, 2006

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Greece, Culture History Mythology.

Greek military divers on Friday successfully raised the wreckage of a rare German World War II bomber from the sea off the eastern island of Rhodes, the air force said.

The Junkers-87 dive-bomber, better known as the Stuka, was shot down in 1943 and will be conserved and displayed at the air force museum at an airport near Athens, air force spokesman Col. Ioannis Papageorgiou said. Papageorgiou said there was no trace yet of the two airmen’s bodies.

“The plane was raised a couple of hours ago, and I don’t know yet whether there are any remains inside,” he said. “I don’t know exactly in what condition the plane is, part of the tail section appears to be missing.”

The two-seater’s wreckage was located two years ago by a trawler, which caught it in its nets 7 miles (11 kilometers) off shore at a depth of 150 meters (492 feet), and dragged it close to the island’s southern coast.

Air force experts believe the plane was part of a Luftwaffe squadron operating from Rhodes that lost several Stukas to allied ships and aircraft on Oct. 9, 1943.

“Once we locate the serial number we will be able to identify the plane, what squadron it belonged to and the crew,” Papageorgiou said.

Papageorgiou said the wreckage will be cleaned in order to be exhibited for Air Force Day on Nov. 8.

“We will have to remove all the seaweed and marine organizations quickly, because once they dry it is very hard to get them off,” he said.

Fitted with a screaming siren for maximum psychological effect on the enemy, the gull-winged, single-engine Stuka was probably the most feared symbol of Nazi military power.

Used in action in the Spanish Civil War, it played a major role in the German invasions of Poland and France, but was outdated and severely outgunned by allied fighters by 1943.

Out of some 6,000 aircraft produced between 1936 and 1944, only two survive intact in museums, while the wrecks of three more Stukas have been salvaged.

In 2003, air force experts raised the wreckage of a German WWII Junkers 52 transport that was shot down near the island of Leros in 1943. The aircraft was conserved and is on display at the air force museum, which also boasts a rare intact British Spitfire fighter.

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