Back in 1995, one of the dive team got back on the boat and reported an unusual object on top of the shipwreck we’d just discovered off Whitby. No one else had noticed it and at first we didn’t believe his description of a shiny silver cylinder that looked a bit like a space craft. Had aliens landed off the Yorkshire coast?
We went back to check it out and I videoed the object. I remember gently polishing the tiny glass porthole with my gloved hand and wondering what could possibly be inside? How could it remain shiny silver and virtually free of marine growth?
I contacted the Imperial War Museum who identified it as a 500kg German Luftmine Type A. It was 5 feet 8 inches long, made of aluminium alloy. Typically dropped from a Heinkel He115 on an artificial silk parachute, it was designed to sit on the seabed until triggered magnetically by a ship passing overhead. Behind the porthole – the one I’d rubbed – was the highly sensitive detonator.
We reported the Luftmine to the Admiralty who decided that 56m was deep enough to leave it where it was. These aerial mines were intended for important naval targets. It didn’t make sense that this 1940s mine was intact on the deck of an early 19th century steamship. There are a few theories but with no hard evidence it remains an unsolved mystery.
Imagine my surprise when Chris Harvey and Richard Brennan of Viewport3 Ltd wanted to use my footage of the Luftmine to demonstrate their 3D technology. Click on the image and move it around. I’m amazed by the possibilities of this technology, which turns video into a powerful 3D scanning tool. If Viewport can create this 3D model with such an old piece of video, imagine the quality they could achieve with today’s Ultra High Definition video.
Words by Andy, 3D model by Viewport3 Ltd