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Bf109E-4 Werk Nr. 1531 - 4/JG53
Crashed 28th October 1940 at Townings Farm Chailey.
Excavation of Messerschmitt Bf109E-4 Werk No. 1531. by the Wings Museum
Saturday 9th December 2017.
MoD Licence Number 1848

On Saturday 9th December 2017 a team from the Wings Museum gathered at the crash site of a Battle of Britain Bf109E-4 Werk No. 1531 that crashed at Townings Farm, Chailey, Sussex on 28th October 1940.

Kevin Hunt of the Wings Museum briefed those present on the dig about the procedures of the excavation and also the hazards of possible 7.92 ammunition that could possibly be buried at the crash site. This briefing also advised people on the procedures of handling significant artifacts to avoid any possible damage.
The excavation commenced by removing the top soil to be set aside so it could be put back at the end of the dig. Once this was safely set aside the excavator began to carefully remove layer by layer while the recovery team kept an eye out for any tell tale evidence of aircraft remains. We also had a team metal detecting the spoil heap looking for smaller artifacts that might otherwise be missed. At a depth of 2 feet the rudder mass balance weight was discovered together with a small section of tail plane rib section. Later cleaning and preservation of this artifact revealed that the rib has a hole caused by battle damage sustained in combat.
Another significant find was discovered at a depth of approximately 3 feet and a large section of radiator was recovered. Finds were fairly scant and most of the finds discovered were small. As soon as any evidence of aircraft remains were discovered the area was carefully excavated by hand, by doing this a number of small artifacts were discovered including 4 engine valves, section of cam-shaft, exploded 7.92 ammunition and many shattered remains of Damlier Benz 603 engine casing & a cylinder liner.
At a depth of 6 feet a layer of staining was found on top of a layer of hard sandstone, this layer had a strong smell of aviation fuel and minor engine components were recovered. It was evident that under this layer was completely natural and that any further evidence of the aircraft would not be found any deeper. Therefore the team began back filling and making the ground level to the satisfaction of the farmer.
From the evidence of the remains of the shattered engine it would seem as though the engine hit the sandstone and was completely destroyed by the impact. The fact that the aircraft had only penetrated to a depth of 6 feet would suggest that the wreckage was largely exposed at the bottom of the crater with the larger items being removed by the RAF Recovery Team in 1940. It is understood that the front of the engine and the propeller hub were recovered in the 1970’s, the whereabouts of these parts now are not known. We also found evidence of battle damage supporting the documentation that showed that this aircraft was shot down by Anti-Aircraft fire.
First excavation trench underway.
First fragments of 109E-4 1531 begin to surface.
Corroded & burnt ali known as "Daz" at the bottom of the impact area.
Small finds including: piston liner, engine valves, cam shaft, coolant pipes, engine casing etc.
Engine valves cleaned and preserved ready for display.
Evidence of battle damage - entrance hole
Evidence of battle damage - exit hole
Rudder mass balance weight in good condition.
One of several engine valves recovered.
Hand digging the cockpit area.
Photo showing the maximum depth the excavation went down to.

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