WWII aircraft raised off Leros

The well-preserved wreck of one of the most widely used German World War II aircraft was raised from the seabed yesterday by a Greek air force team, 60 years after the plane was shot down by Allied forces in the Dodecanese. The Junkers Ju-52 transport, which lay 41 meters deep half a kilometer off the coast of Leros, still contained the bones of a crew member, an air force spokesman said. The remains will be handed over to German Embassy officials. Yesterday’s raising of the wreck was the culmination of a 10-day operation that cost some 40,000 euros, but which angered islanders who had hoped the submerged aircraft could spur a diving tourism boom. The air force intends to restore the all-metal plane for display in its museum – which includes a rare WWII British Spitfire fighter. Nicknamed Tante (Auntie) Ju by German fliers, the three-engined plane first flew in 1931 and was widely used by the German air force in WWII operations, including the air-launched capture of Crete in 1941. Seven of the nearly 5,000 aircraft built are still in flying condition.

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