'Rare' WWII bomber lifted from sea 75 years after crash

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Image copyright Stuart Martin
Image caption It is thought the plane got in to trouble shortly after taking off on a test flight

The wreckage of a World War Two bomber has been lifted from the sea more than 75 years after it crashed off Portsmouth.

The Fairey Barracuda Torpedo Bomber was discovered last summer by engineers surveying the seabed for an electricity cable between England and France.

It is the "only one ever found in one piece" and the "last of its kind in the UK", according to Wessex Archaeology.

It will be displayed at the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm Museum in Somerset.

The 1943 three-seater plane is believed to have got in to trouble shortly after taking off on a test flight.

Image copyright Stuart Martin
Image caption It was found last summer by National Grid engineers

Euan McNeill, from Wessex Archaeology, said the plane was in "tremendous condition" despite being on the seabed for 75 years.

"There are no existing examples of Fairey Barracudas that you can go and look at despite there being 2,500 of them in service with the Fleet Air Arm over the years," he said.

"It crashed at quite a low speed in quite shallow water and was intact when it reached the seabed. The vast majority of it is all sat together.

"To find one that hasn't been destroyed by crashing into a hillside or blowing up is remarkable."

The wreckage is expected to take around three weeks to recover. It will then be taken to the Fleet Air Arm Museum, to be studied and used to rebuild a full-size Barracuda .

David Morris, from the museum, said: "We have been for many years collecting pieces.. with the aim to build and create a Barracuda aircraft for our collection.

"There are very few blueprints of the Barracuda plane design available so this wreckage is a huge step forward for our project."