The aircraft, T9044, flew 14 convoy-protection missions for RAF Coastal Command during the Battle of the Atlantic in World War Two. There was no-one aboard when it sank during a storm, while landed at Pembroke Dock near Milford Haven on 12 November, 1940.
Only divers from dedicated British Sub-Aqua Club branch the Pembroke Dock Sunderland Trust (PDST) Dive Group have permission to dive or salvage artefacts from the protected wreck – and now they need £10,000 to replace the failed outboard engine on their RIB so that they can continue their work.
The group’s diving officer Nick Hammond found the wreck in 1998 while freeing a fisherman’s lobsterpot line that had tangled around a propeller.
In 2003, working with Channel 4’s Wreck Detectives series, a Mk 22 Bristol Pegasus engine was recovered and the wreck identified as T9044, the only Mk 1 Sunderland reported lost in the Milford Haven area. The dive group was set up two years later, and bought its RIB Chevron in 2011.
Working conditions on the wreck are not easy – most of the aircraft lies 15m down, partly buried in shifting sand near a deepwater channel. Visibility is said rarely to exceed 2m.
The PDST group has so far recovered two of the engines, propellers, the forward machine-gun and other components for restoration and display at Pembroke Dock Heritage Centre, run by the Sunderland Trust.
The divers hope to retrieve at least the rear gun turret and one further engine, failing which they intend to build a virtual display of the aircraft. They say it will take up to three years to carry out a further substantial lift, the first phase of which would be a detailed survey, which they would like to carry out as soon as possible.
The crowdfunding appeal can be found here
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