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Wrecks of three WWII bombers discovered after 76 years

In the Pacific Ocean, in a place described as a wreck diver’s paradise – Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia, 3 wrecks of American bombing planes from the Second World War have been found. The machines were all involved in Operation Hailstone and were lost in February 1944 along with 7 American airmen. The aircraft wreckage was found
Published: February 18, 2020 - 15:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 19:19
Wrecks of three WWII bombers discovered after 76 years

In the Pacific Ocean, in a place described as a wreck diver’s paradise – Chuuk Lagoon, Micronesia, 3 wrecks of American bombing planes from the Second World War have been found. The machines were all involved in Operation Hailstone and were lost in February 1944 along with 7 American airmen.

The aircraft wreckage was found during activities carried out by Project Recover, which aims to search for and identify missing American wreckage from World War II and thus be able to identify soldiers listed on records with a Missing In Action – MIA – status.

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BombersLagoon

Two SBD-5 Dauntless dive bombers and a TBM/F-1 Avenger torpedo bomber took part in Operation Hailstone on 17 and 18 February 1944, against Japanese forces stationed in Truk Lagoon. In the operation conducted, the Americans managed to achieve a strategic victory with minimal losses.

BombersLagoon2

Although Operation Hailstone ended in a US victory, 3 aircraft that took off from the aircraft carriers USS Enterprise and USS Intrepid were among some 30 US aircraft lost during the operation. Of these, 12 were lost in the lagoon.

BombersLagoon3

The search for aircraft wreckage involved experts from the University of Delaware and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, which is now part of the University of California, San Diego. A total of four expeditions took place between April 2018 and December 2019. After searching nearly 70 square miles of seafloor with side-scan sonar, researchers used underwater drones to detect debris from three planes, at depths ranging from 100 to 215 feet.

BombersLagoon4

“With the completion of the archaeological investigation at the crash site, the team is now preparing reports for the U.S. government to potentially set in motion the recovery and identification of the remains of up to seven crew members associated with these aircraft,” said Andrew Pietruszka, underwater archaeologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and lead archaeologist for Project Recover

TrukLagoonGetty1944

Source: projectrecover.org
Photo: Image captured from a Remotely Operated Vehicle – credit Bob Hess, Scripps, University of Delaware, courtesy of Dr. Mark Moline

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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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