Capt. Sebastian Bangert
German military divers are working to hoist the wreck of a Stuka dive bomber from the floor of the Baltic Sea, a rare example of the plane that once wreaked havoc over Europe as part of the Nazis' war machine.
The single-engine monoplane carried sirens that produced a distinctive and terrifying screaming sound as it dove vertically to release its bombs or strafe targets with its machine guns. There are only two complete Stukas still around.
The Stuka wreck, first discovered in the 1990s when a fisherman's nets snagged on it, lies about 10 km off the coast of the German Baltic island of Ruegen, in about 18 metres (60 feet) of water.
The divers have been working over the past week to prepare the bomber to be hoisted to the surface, using fire hoses to carefully free it from the sand.
They have already brought up smaller pieces and also hauled up its motor over the weekend.
They are now working to free the main 9-metre (30-foot) fuselage piece and expect to bring it up on Tuesday, depending on the weather, said Capt. Sebastian Bangert, a spokesman from the German Military Historical Museum in Dresden, which is running the recovery operation.
Initial reports are that it is in good condition despite having spent the last seven decades at the bottom of the sea, he said.
"From my perspective there's a lot of damage — it's been under water for 70 years — but our restoration crew says it's in really good condition for being restored," said Bangert, speaking from the deck of the Navy ship being used for the operation. "That's our goal — a complete restoration and not conservation as a wreck."