Heinkel He177A-5
Ofw Werner Neuenfeld and crew (baled out)
Crashed 13 June 1944
Nr Bolbec, France

On 12th June 1944 Ofw Werner Neuenfeld and crew took off from Toulouse to attack invasion shipping off the Normandy coast with Hs293 missiles.

As they approached Le Havre the He177 was intercepted by a Mosquito crew from 410 (RCAF) Squadron which had taken off from Hunsdon.

P/O Kearney was guided onto the He177 by his AI operator F/O Bradford from two miles away and closed to just 600 feet to make a positive identification of the target, which was observed to have ‘an object slung outboard of each engine’ – the Hs293s.

The first burst of fire missed, but a second set the whole starboard wing root and engine on fire. The bomber then went down in a steep dive from 6,000 feet with the flames spreading until it hit the ground, exploding with such force that the Mosquito was shaken by it.

It would seem likely that return fire had damaged the Mosquito as both engines began to fail, forcing Kearney to make a wheels-up landing at a landing ground on the beachhead. As the Mosquito slid along the ground it collided with a truck, killing the luckless driver.

Excavation of the most complete He177A-5 recovered to date commences

The He177′s crash site had been located by historian Laurent Viton and was excavated in September 2012.

All four DB605 engines were recovered together with the propeller hubs, gearboxes, and the drive shafts that coupled them. Also recovered were two of the huge undercarriage legs.

The engines were buried vertically at a depth of 2 metres, and in the centre of the crater the tail wheel leg was discovered.

Although much of the wreckage was badly burned by an intense fire, some very interesting artefacts were recovered and preserved for display.

Fragments of the dingy, including the inflation bottle, were discovered along with the main aircraft compass or “mother compass”, several small labels and what is believed to be part of the aerofoil tail fin section from one of the Hs293 Remote Operated Glide Bombs, which is, without doubt, a rare find indeed.

Also recovered was one of the remote operated armour plated gun turrets which would have last been used in action against the pursuing Mosquito, perhaps the very turret that inflicted damage to P.O. Kearney’s engines.

One of the Daimler Benz engines was retained for display in France, with many of the other artefacts and three engines cleaned and preserved ready for display at the Wings Museum. This is the only place in the UK where substantial parts from an He177A-5 can be seen on public display.

The tail oleo is lifted from the mud after nearly 70 years being buried
Steve and Gareth with their prize!
Kevin with two of the DB605 engines recovered
Simon Parry investigates one of the huge propeller hubs
All four engines were found at a depth of 1.5 metres and were laying vertical in the ground.

The Wings Museum would like to thank the following people for the opportunity of attending this unique excavation: Gareth Jones, Steve Vizard, Simon Parry, Geoff Carless, Laurent Viton; and also the various French researchers and historians who made the excavation possible.