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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 April 2007, 10:40 GMT 11:40 UK
In pictures: 'Elephant stable' bomber

Restored First World War bomber

A rare World War I bomber that was discovered in a maharaja's elephant stable in India has been painstakingly restored on behalf of the UK's Imperial War Museum.

Remains of the de Havilland DH9 two-seat biplane in India

The remains of the de Havilland DH9, built in 1918, were discovered amid piles of elephant saddles near the Palace of Bikaner in the state of Rajasthan.

Remains of the DH9 biplane

Much of the plane - built in 1918 and the first British plane to contain bombs in its fuselage - had been devoured by termites and most of its fabric was missing.

Remains of the DH9

The museum acquired the plane in 2000 when the owner, the late maharaja of Bikaner, agreed to dispose of it to a British collector alerted to its existence by a backpacker.

Remains of the plane being transported from India to the UK

Special arrangements were made to transport the plane to Britain, but because no original drawings existed, restoring it proved to be a lengthy task.

The DH9 under restoration in the UK

The DH9 was one of several given to India under a post-war scheme which enabled it to inherit obsolete planes. On arrival in Britain, it received two years of specialist restoration.

Restored cockpit of the DH9

By chance, the Imperial War Museum had a spare DH9 engine - not renowned during the war for their reliability - which enabled mechanics to complete the restoration.

Unrestored cockpit of the DH9

In all, the remains of three DH9s were discovered in India, providing technicians with enough spare equipment to carry out their restoration using mostly original parts.

A DH9 during World War One

The DH9 was the most produced British aeroplane of World War I, and was used in almost every Empire country around the world, forming part of many embryonic air forces.

Guy Black with the DH9

"Finding the remains of a DH9 is like discovering a treasure chest," said Guy Black, who restored the plane for the museum. "It's the only one in Britain."

Machine gun of the DH9

It is thought that the DH9 will be far more successful as a museum exhibit than it was as a bomber. During the war many had to ditch behind enemy lines because of engine failure.

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