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Russians have fished out the wreckage of a US fighter jet

Listen to this article In Crimea, Russians have fished out of the Black Sea the wreckage of a US Bell P-39 Aircobra aircraft, dating from World War II. The machine was part of the Soviet Air Force and was one of 5000 aircraft of this type built in the USA and delivered to the Soviet
Published: October 2, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:11
Russians have fished out the wreckage of a US fighter jet
Listen to this article

In Crimea, Russians have fished out of the Black Sea the wreckage of a US Bell P-39 Aircobra aircraft, dating from World War II.

The machine was part of the Soviet Air Force and was one of 5000 aircraft of this type built in the USA and delivered to the Soviet Union under the Lend-Lease programme.

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Wreckage of the fighter Aircobra Crimea
The wreckage of a fighter jet was found by accident by an amateur diver

The wreckage of the fighter jet was already known since 2017, when it was located by chance by diver Alexei Kazarinov. The remains of the plane rested submerged at a shallow depth of about 800 metres from the coastline, near the village of Novofedorovka.

Aircobra fighter from 1945 divers24.pl
After renovation, the machine will be exhibited in Crimea

After making his discovery, Kazarinov informed the authorities and provided the approximate coordinates of the wreck site. However, it was not until 2019 that it was inspected in detail, which was carried out as part of an extensive search for World War II wrecks.

Aircobra fighter jet sunk in the Black Sea
The aircraft crashed during a training flight in July 1945.

Thanks to closer inspection and photographic documentation, the aircraft was able to be identified and its history known. As it turns out the found machine was delivered to the 11th Fighter Regiment of the Black Sea Fleet in 1943 and took part in the battles for the Crimea, which was then occupied by the Germans.

Fragment of an Aircobra fighter jet Crimea divers24.pl
The plane was examined as part of a wide-ranging operation to find wrecks from the Second World War

After analysing the material in the archives, it was established that on 27 July 1945, during a training flight, Lieutenant Vladimir Shishkin noticed smoke coming from the engine. As a result, he was forced to make an emergency landing on water, about 1 km from the airfield.

The aircraft sank literally 30 seconds later, but the pilot emerged from the whole incident almost unscathed, the only reminder of the accident being a slight head injury. The accident report was found in the archives, and a fault in the form of a damaged connecting rod was identified as the cause.

Archival photograph of an Aircobra fighter
Archival photograph of an Aircobra fighter jet

On 14 September, after being prepared by a diving team, the wreck was lifted with a crane and transported to shore. The operation to recover the wreck was the result of a joint expedition conducted by the Russian Geographical Society and the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation. According to available information, after maintenance and repair, the machine will be put on display as an exhibit.

As an interesting aside, it is worth mentioning that a number of other Aircobra aircraft wrecks have been found in the waters surrounding Crimea. Three were located in the Kerch Strait, which connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Azov, and one in Lake Tobechik. Unlike the one fished out, these machines were lost as a result of hostilities.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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