Rare remains of WWII Messerschmitt found buried on beach
The wreck of a Messerschmitt 109 that was shot down over 70 years ago has been discovered on a beach on the Baltic coast.
The amazing discovery happened on Friday in the small town of Stegna in the Gulf of Gdańsk by staff of the Pomerania Military Technology and History Museum.
The team were searching the beach with a magnetometric sensor when they stumbled across an anomaly. Metal detectors suggested that a very large object was buried on the beach and the team from the museum assumed that it was some kind of armoured vehicle.
However, when diggers and water pumps removed the layers of sand the object turned out to be a Messerschmitt Me-109 G.
So far, museum staff have uncovered two wings, the pilot’s cockpit and the engine, which are relatively well preserved considering that they have been in contact with salt water for 73 years.
An initial examination of the wreck suggests that the aircraft was shot by Soviet forces in 1945 and forced to crash land on the beach in Stegna.
“We read in Red Army chronicles that a German plane was shot down more or less in that exact spot, but the information suggested that the plane should be in the sea and not on the beach,” said Mateusz Deling from the museum.
The wreck of the aircraft will be taken to the private Pomerania Military Technology and History Museum in Kłanino, where experts will carry out conservation work before a decision is made whether to put the plane on display.
“We haven’t made a decision yet because we don’t know what condition the plane is in yet. However, given the salty conditions, at first glance it doesn’t seem to be too bad,” said Deling.
The discovery is particularly exciting because very few aircraft of this type have been discovered in Poland and only a few dozen exist around the world.
In 1945, the beach in Stegna was a battlefield in the final stages of the war. A lot of German forces were positioned nearby and the unearthed aircraft was involved in German efforts to deny the Red Army access to the port of Gdansk.
The search team has permission to search the beach up to the end of the year and museum staff are confident that the sands in Stegna will reveal many more treasures from the Second World War.
The Messerschmitt 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe's fighter force. It first saw operational service in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War and was still in service at the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II.
It was one of the most advanced fighters of the era, including features such as an all-metal construction, a closed canopy and retractable landing gear. It was powered by a liquid-cooled, inverted-V12 aero engine.
The Bf 109 is the most produced fighter aircraft in history, with a total of 33,984 planes produced from 1936 up to April 1945.
Towards the end of the war, a significant fraction of 109 production took place in concentration camps, including Flossenbürg, Mauthausen-Gusen, and Buchenwald.