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

The successful electrolytic treatment and stabilization, without dismantling, of a Pratt and Whitney “Twin Wasp” radial aero engine was completed at the conservation laboratories of the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia in December 1991. 3, 4

This project, a world first, was made possible by the patronage of Electricité de France (EDF) and the Australian War Memorial (AWM). Further financial sponsorship was provided by TIGHAR (The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery) and HARS, (Historic Aircraft Recovery Society). These studies enabled the refinement of techniques to a stage where further treatments of other relics of similar “composite” composition could be undertaken (fig. 1).

Figure 1: The Pratt and Whitney “Twin Wasp” Radial Aero Engine from the Hudson IA16-19. Treated at the Australian War Memorial.
engine before engine after
Before treatment. After treatment.

With the recovery of a BMW 801D-2 radial aero engine and other associated relics from a Focke Wulf 190A-8 fighter from the Loiret River, France in late 1990, an opportunity was presented to continue the refinement of these treatment techniques at the laboratories of Groupe Valectra, Groupe des Laboratoires, Electricité de France, situated at Saint Denis to the north of Paris (fig. 2.).

Figure 2: The BMW 801D-2 radial aero engine salvaged from the Loiret River.
engine rescued
engine displayed
As rescued. Before treatment on display stand.

Sponsored once again by EDF and the AWM, this second project being a European first, was further facilitated by a French government scientific fellowship awarded to me for a period of three months.

AWM Conservation has for some time regarded that the development of techniques to treat and stabilize objects comprising modern metal alloys are high priority. A number of significant relics from the AWM collection are of this type and are in urgent need of attention. Within the Australian and South Pacific region a number of smaller collections have similar problems where many such objects have been salvaged from marine environments and deterioration has accelerated to crisis point. There also exists at present considerable interest in the salvaging of other relics from the war against Japan – a number of which will become part of our national collections. Thus, it is imperative that adequate conservation and stabilization strategies are developed now.

The project began in May 1992, and once finished, the engine is destined to become part of the collection of the “Musée Pour La Paix Memoria,” situated in Caen, Normandy.


[3] Degrigny, C. 'Traitements Electrolytiques De Vestiges Subaquatiques De Grandes Dimensions A Base D'Alliages D'Aluminium Dans Le Laboratoire De Restauration De L'Australian War Memorial.' AWM Publication, Dec. 199 1.
[4] Adams, C.D., Electrolytic Treatments of Large Composite Objects Based on Alluminium Alloys Rescued from Sea Water'. AWM Publication, Jul. 1992.

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

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