Rare German aircraft recovered off Denmark

05/01/2012

What was once a state-of-the-art German fighter plane has been recovered off the coast of Denmark and is the process of being readied for restoration.

Heinkel He 219 found recently in Tannis Bay off the coast of northern Jutland was a night-fighter that was the first military aircraft in the world to be equipped with ejection seats and said to be one of the first operational aircraft with a pressurized cockpit.

Fewer than 300 of the aircraft, nicknamed Eagle-Owl, were built for the Luftwaffe and the only other known survivor is at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex at Washington Dulles Airport.

It’s unclear what happened to the example found off the Danish coast, according to Politiken.dk.

”The only parts of the aircraft that remain to be found are one of its two engines and part of the tail, which probably included the aircraft number, which in turn would help determine why the aircraft ended up in Tannis Bay,” according to the website.

The Heinkel He 219 was also equipped with an effective VHF intercept radar designed to seek out and attack allied bombers and it featured a tricycle landing gear.

The latter item helped researchers identify it.

“Landing gear is just like a fingerprint on humans, but I found it difficult to believe that we had such a rare aircraft in Denmark,” said Ib Ledsen, chairman of the Aviation History Society of Denmark and an aircraft archaeologist.

The aircraft is now to be transported to the Garrison Museum in Aalborg, Denmark, where it is to be restored and exhibited, Politiken.dk reported.

The other known example of the Heinkel He 219, the one now at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex, was confiscated by the US Army Intelligence Service as part of Operation Lusty, along with two other He 219s, from the Grove Air Force Base in Jutland, Denmark.

It was flown to Cherbourg in France in 1945, where it was packed aboard the British aircraft carrier HMS Reaper and taken to America as part of intelligence efforts to glean technical information from German aircraft.

(HT: A Blog About History)

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