The Treatment of the BMW 801D-2 Radial Aero Engine Rescued From the Loiret River.
History of the Plane

By June 1944 the German airforce was significantly weakened. When the Allied invasion of France began on 6th June 1944, the German fighter forces were in no way prepared.

The allies had mastery of the skies. It has been estimated that they could muster 4,190 fighters to meet a total 425 Luftwaffe fighters, of which only about 250 were serviceable on any one day. Thus at this time only few German planes could manage to get off the ground and attempt engagement with the Allied bombers and their escorts, which were now flying over France daily. It is during this period that a German plane crashed into the Loiret river, a tributary of the Loire, near a small settlement known as Port Arthur.

On the morning of 15th June 1944 at 0625 hrs, German fighters from the II and III/JG 26 and the III/JG 54 squadrons, took off from Guyancourt, situated a few kilometres south-west of Versailles, on a mission of free chase. It occurred that the Commander of the JG 26 squadron was Oberstleutnant Joseph Priller, aged 26, who was credited at that time with 99 kills (fig. 3.). Among them also was Alfred Gunther of the II/JG 26, flying a Focke Wulf 190A-8.

Figure 3: Oberstleutnant “Pips” Priller, the Kommodore of the JG26.
Oblt Priller servicing a/c
Being helped from his aircraft during the battle for France in the summer of 1944. His aircraft being serviced by ground crew.

At 0650 hrs they were 100 kilometres south of Chartres. The German pilots noticed a formation of 70 to 80 allied bombers flying at an altitude of between 6,000 and 7,000 metres. They were identified as being B17 Flying Fortresses and B24 Liberators, heavily escorted by American fighters. These formed part of the 1,361 bombers that the 8th airforce had in the air that day. A little before 0710 hrs, a B24 Liberator became the 100th victim of the ace “Pips” Priller. Some minutes later the B24 was observed falling south-west of Chartres. Shortly after, the Luftwaffe fighters began their return, passing over Chartres at 0735 hrs, from where they set course for home, arriving at Guyancourt at 0840 hrs.

Oberfeldwebel Alfred Gunther, flying his Focke Wulf FW190-A8, failed to return and although German planes returned to the area the following day, his fate remained a mystery until recently. Locals of the region always had stories of a German plane which crashed into the river around that time, at a site known as “Port Arthur.” It was not until a team of divers from the “Club Subaquatic Orleanaise” discovered and salvaged a BMW 801D-2 engine and other associated artefacts, that a positive identification could be made. The plane was certainly that flown by Alfred Gunter. Most of these recovered items were eventually entrusted to Groupe Valectra for stabilization treatment.

Abstract Introduction Perspective History FW190 BMW engine
Preparation Plan Treatment Conclusions Bibliography Appendices

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