Virtual tour of second world war shipwreck goes online

Website allows people to experience a 3D view of the SS Thistlegorm, a British merchant steam ship sunk in 1941, seen as one of the world’s best wreck dives

A 3D render of the SS Thistlegorm. Photograph: The University of Nottingham/PA

Armchair archaeologists are being given the chance to explore a second world war shipwreck online in 3D virtual reality.

The Thistlegorm Project documents the wreckage of SS Thistlegorm, a British merchant steam ship sunk by a German bomber in 1941 off the coast of Egypt.

The ship, which was carrying provisions including aircraft parts, trucks and motorbikes, now lies 32 metres (105ft) below the surface of the Red Sea, and the site is considered one of the best wreck dives in the world.

Photographic surveys captured 24,307 high-resolution images recording the ship’s outer shell, internal decks and cabins and its rich cargo.

The survey allowed the team behind the project to reconstruct what is left of the Thistlegorm on the sea bed and create 3D models of exactly how the wreck appears. In addition, 360-degree video allows people to experience what it is like to dive at the site.

A diver at the shipwreck site. Photograph: The University of Nottingham/PA

The project is part of a wider maritime archaeology study, Presence in the Past, by the University of Nottingham in partnership with Ain Shams and Alexandria universities in Egypt.

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