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Fighter plane dug up from London street comes to IWM

The remains of the Hurricane plane excavated from Buckingham Palace Road earlier this year during Five's Fighter Plane Dig Live can now be seen at the Imperial War Museum.

On 15 September 1940, at the height of the Battle of Britain, Sergeant Ray Holmes of No. 504 Squadron, Royal Air Force, spotted a German Dornier Do17 bomber in the air above Buckingham Palace. During the ensuing fight both aircraft were damaged. The bomber began to break up and most of it crashed on the forecourt of Victoria Station. Sergeant Holmes baled out of his Hurricane before it came down at the western end of Buckingham Palace Road.

Sixty-three years on, and after years of painstaking historical research, photography and ground-penetrating radar, aviation archaeologists, led by Christopher Bennett, pinpointed the exact position of the Hurricane. The successful dig was witnessed by the pilot of the aircraft, Ray Holmes, now 89.

The surviving pieces of aircraft which can be viewed include the engine and the control column complete with its machine-gun firing button. Among other related exhibits are photographs and maps used to identify the crash site; copies of original messages sent between the emergency services just after the planes crashed; a parachute of the type issued to RAF pilots; and a dramatic painting of parachutists over Buckingham Palace by the artist Walter Bayes.

The display will be on show at Imperial War Museum London until 31 October 2004.

A documentary about the events of 15 September 1940 will be screened on Five on Friday 20 August at 7.30pm.

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