One of the most poignant exhibits at the Newark Air Museum is the wingtip of a Lancaster bomber, R5726, which was fished out of Knipton Reservoir, near Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire.
It broke up in the air in bad weather on the afternoon of April 4th 1944, killing the crew of seven, and was found by Newark Sub-Aqua Club in 1979.
Next to it is a short section of the fuselage of another Lancaster Mk I, W4964, which flew 106 missions, one of them part of Operation Catechism, the final attack on the German battleship, Tirpitz, on November 12th 1944.
When this aircraft was retired its fuselage was used for ground training, and eventually a sawn-off section became a garden shed in Gainsborough, from where it was rescued for preservation in 1974.
Its wartime paintwork remains intact. The accompanying display shows a photograph of its crew returning from its first sortie to Stettin in 1943, with the plane’s insignia in the background.
Also on display is one of Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bombs, properly an Upkeep Mine: this one was a test version dropped in a practice run at Reculver, Kent.
It’s one thing to see a historic relic, whether a plane or a train or a building, fully restored as new, but it’s a far more resonant experience to see actual artefacts unchanged from the time of the story that they tell.