We have a remarkable story to tell but the most telling is that of the Sunderland T9044 and key to telling this story is recovering what we can of the flying boat from Milford Haven Waterway and putting this on display. After undergoing a conservation process it can tell a compelling and very human story.
Resting on the seabed in just 65 feet of water off Pembroke Dock’s historic waterfront is the easily identifiable remains of a Sunderland flying-boat. A Pegasus radial engine has already been raised from the wreck and is now a treasured exhibit along with a partially recovered second engine.
This is a treasure that links Pembrokeshire with an outstanding chapter in its recent history. But much more of this iconic aircraft can be recovered from this easily accessible wreck site.
Quite simply, Pembroke Dock has the world’s only Mark Sunderland – one of only four military Sunderlands left in the world. The others – in UK and New Zealand museums – are all later Mark V versions and differ significantly from the aircraft found in the Waterway.
This veteran has been identified as serial number T9044 of No 210 Squadron, RAF, which sank at its moorings in a gale in November 1940. There was no crew on board and the Aircraft was lost for decades before being re-discovered by divers some of whom now form the Trust’s Dive Group.
Despite all the years in the water its immediately recognizable and is likely to be a ‘time capsule’ of wartime RAF. High resolution scanning will take place in the summer of 2013.
The Sunderland is the most famous of all the British flying-boats and links to a truly golden era in aviation history. Sunderlands then were the largest aircraft by far in the RAF – entered service at RAF Pembroke Dock in 1938 and the last UK based squadrons disbanded there in 1957, just two years before the aircraft was finally retired. It was the RAF’s finest flying-boat and sadly its last, having served for a then record 21 years in RAF colours.
It also represents a unique connection for Pembrokeshire – with what became the world’s largest operational flying-boat station, RAF Pembroke Dock. In 1943, at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, 99 flying-boats – mostly Sunderlands were located in and around Pembroke Dock. Nowhere else in the world had so many flying-boats at any one time.
There is no place in Britain where the story of Military flying-boat development, of the vital contribution flying-boats made to the crucial Battle of the Atlantic, and their long peacetime record, is told in detail. This story should be told at Pembroke Dock – there is no location with a better claim than Pembroke Dock.