Historic photographs of a Nazi warship wrecked off the Westcountry coast are being used to help a restoration team to rebuild the last remaining specimen of its type.
Historian Dr Harry Bennett paid £10 through eBay for a series of photos of the Second World War torpedo boat S-89, which lies in Cornish waters near Crackington Haven.
The photos are being used to help a team of shipbuilders accurately rebuild a ship of the same class – the S-130. This German vessel was involved in the Exercise Tiger tragedy in 1944, when a US convoy was ambushed off Slapton Sands, South Devon. It will eventually become a floating memorial to the 1,000 servicemen killed.
The restoration team is having to use detective work to piece the boat together as there are no surviving plans or other vessels to compare it to. The photographs will fill a key piece of the jigsaw in how the finished boat should look.
Dr Bennett, a historian at The University of Plymouth, regularly trawls through internet auction sites to try to unearth such gems. He said: "We're talking about something that hasn't been built since the Second World War, so all the papers relating to the development and construction of the project have been scattered to the four winds. The restoration is aiming to recreate a fully working vessel. This boat could go at 43 knots. In 1943, it was at the cutting edge, technologically speaking."
The photos will particularly help with the layout of the deck, which they show in great detail.
Dr Bennett hopes others will now come forward with similar pictures or documents, or with pieces of the vessel which have been taken as souvenirs since the S-89 broke free from a tow and ran aground near Crackington Haven, where it is now wrecked.
The £4 million S-130 restoration project is being overseen by private collector Kevin Wheatcroft.
After Exercise Tiger, it was later used by the British Navy. Dr Bennett said: "This warship is both German and British. Their craftsmen built it in 1943,and now ours are restoring it. Surely shared projects like there are how we make sure there are no wars in the future."
The restoration is a coup for Cornish shipbuilding firm Roving Commissions, who expect the delicate operation to take another five years. Company spokesman John Owls said the new photographs would play an important role in the process.