In the 1970’s the Academy of Applied Science led by Robert Rines began investigating the Loch with new technology scanners. In 1976 Martin Klein using a Klein Side Scan Sonar noticed what looked like a twin-engine aircraft on the sonar traces, and speculated it was possibly a PBY-Catalina. To publicise these findings there was a public lecture ‘In search of Nessie’, at which Robin Holmes and Robin Dunbar from Herriot Watt university took up the batton inspired by a paper describing a possible sitting of Catalina Aircraft. In 1978 from the research vessel, Seol Mara, using an underwater camera, Holmes and his team found what they could see was clearly the geodesic structure of a Wellington Bomber. The wreck had lain hidden and forgotten for nearly 45 years.
From the time Wellington N2980 was first discovered in Loch to the day when she was lifted on to dry land, the whole discovery, verification and salvage operation took over 9 years.
The Loch Ness Wellington Association, formed by Robin Holmes, masterminded the fundraising and organised for the Wellingtons eventual successful raise, spearheaded by Oceaneering International, in 1985. The story of it’s lifting is well described in Robin Holmes book One of our Aircraft and is just summarised here. Despite nearly forty-five years underwater, the aeroplane was remarkably well preserved. The tail light still worked when connected to a modern battery and many of the crew’s personal effects remained in the fuselage.
One of our Bombers is no longer missing is an excellent recount of story of the recovery.
Andrew grant recalls : I remember it well – I was 7 years old at the time. My Dad took me along to Loch end to see the wreckage as recovered from the Loch. I will never forget this day and seeing oil running out of that Stbd Engine and down that wheel that is behind me in the first picture. It was quite a sight and a story for a wee fellow like me at the time. I’ve still got the programme that was printed at the time to commemorate the Bomber. One day it would be great to go and visit the aircraft in its current state – would be nice to take my kids to see it.
The Wellington was delivered to Brooklands Museum by British Aerospace on 27/9/85, and restored at Weybridge where she had been built. DN2980 is now one of only two surviving Wellingtons but is the only one which saw action as a bomber in operational service. Andrew Lambert who worked at Brooklands made various films of it’s restoration which he has recently made into a PLAYLIST. Andy has also photographed 360 degree photos taken of the inside of R for Robert just after it was moved into the refurbished Hanger here https://www.andysvideo.com/360-military-aircraft.html along with the inside of the Wellington derivative the Vickers Varsity. Thank you Andy for these links which can can all be found on your site
Wellington Bomber being lifted with air cushions at Brooklands 1992
Brooklands Wellington moved back to the Bellman Hangar 2017
Moving the Brooklands Vickers Wellington and Vimy to their new locations 2016