WWII aircraft salvaging

During the Second World War more than 5500 planes crashed on Dutch territory. Most of the wrecks can still be found in the Dutch subsurface. Approximately 400 of these airplane wrecks probably still contain human remains of the crew members. During the salvage operation, in addition to the remains and personal belongings of the crew, heavy explosives (aerial bombs), on-board weapons and harmful substances may also be found.

Why T&A Survey for WWII aircraft salvaging?    

  • Geophysicists, environmental specialist, UXO experts, historians and archaeologists work together under the same roof,  
  • Our specialists ensure a safe and efficient execution of the salvage operation.    
  • T&A owns all the necessary geophysical detection techniques.    
  • Recent experience with the successful salvaging operations of a Lancaster and two Short Sterlings.    
  • Experienced in guided tours, presentations and workshops.


Thorough preparation is a prerequisite for a smooth and structured and cost-effective arcraft salvaging operation. The Role of T & A Survey consists of:

  1. Conducting an environmental investigation, which shows whether soil remediation should be taken into account.    
  2. Drafting of an archaeological plan.    
  3. Performing a geotechnical investigation to determine the exact location and depth of the the aircraft parts.
  4. Drafting a plan of action based on the research results. Location-specific factors, such as the soil structure and expected depth of the airplane wreck play an important role.

Salvaging operation

After approval by all relevant authorities, the plan of action will be implemented and the actual salvaging operation can start. T&A Survey performs a layer-by-layer detection and approach with support of civil engineering equipment. There might also be an archaeological investigation. The salvaging operations are carried out accoding to strict rules and legislation due to the the possible presence of UXO.

Salvaging of Lancaster ED470

A British Avro Lancaster III bomber crashed near Zelhem, The Netherlands, on 23 September 1944. The plane wreck and the killed crew members were never officially recovered. The municipality had several goals in mind for the salvaging operation: to perform a soil remediation and clean up any UXO, but also to create a more concrete picture of the event for the family members of the crew and their commemoration. T&A has carried out the salvaging operation under UXO legislation conditions and also provided archaeological supervision.

Salvaging of a Short Stirling in Echt-Susteren

This was the first aircraft in a series of promising salvaging operations with missing pilots. The Short Stirling W7630 MG-M is a RAF aircraft which crashed in 1942. For the salvaging of the Short Stirling, T&A Survey has mapped and visualized the horizontal and vertical delimitation of the crashed aircraft, as well as the environmental and soil conditions.

Detection and demarcation survey of a Short Sterling in the Markermeer

T&A Survey conducted a detection and demarcation investigation for the Municipality of Almere into the suspected wreckage of a British bomber crashed in the Markermeer during the Second World War. The goal of the survey is to enable the salvaging operation of the aircraft.