WW1 bi-plane wing parts discovered
Wooden wing sections from a First World War bi-plane have been saved by RAF conservation experts - after being spotted propping up a garage roof.
It is not known how several parts of the Handley Page O/400 bomber ended up at business premises in Connah's Quay in Flintshire, north Wales.
But experts based at the RAF Museum in Cosford, near Wolverhampton, are sure the 25ft wooden artefacts originally formed part of the lower wings of the historic aircraft.
Members of the Michael Beetham Conservation Centre at RAF Cosford were first alerted to the existence of the wing parts in April, in an email suggesting the roof of a building due for demolition had been constructed using components from a Second World War Wellington bomber.
However, the museum's curatorial staff instantly recognised the wings were from a much earlier aircraft.
Senior curator Al McLean said: "A visit to the site revealed that these were wooden wings with a type of construction known as box spars.
"This suggested that the aircraft dated from the latter part of the First World War and given the size of them, there were only a few aircraft types they could have originated from.
"The Handley Page O/400 was the obvious candidate and after a brief look at a manual we were fairly positive that that was what we were looking at."
The garage's owner, Alan Sullivan, then allowed RAF museum staff to remove the wing parts while the site was being cleared for development.
Originally ordered as an improved version of the Royal Naval Air Service's O/100, the twin-engined O/400 became the Royal Air Force's standard heavy bomber during the closing months of the First World War.
The wing sections, recovered last month, are now being stored at RAF Stafford, which already houses other remnants of the O/400, including panels and struts.
RAF Museum curator Ewen Cameron said: "The Handley Page O/400 is a vitally important aircraft in the history of the RAF.
"One of the main reasons the Royal Air Force was established in 1918 was so that it could operate as an independent arm of the military, capable of striking deep into the heart of enemy territory.
"It was largely the O/400 which offered the RAF this capability."