Two bombers that have been missing since World War II have just been found off the coast of Papua New Guinea. The project to recover the two bombers is part of a larger mission to find the whereabouts of US soldiers who were lost at sea during WWII.
Project Recover employs underwater robots, high definition imaging, drones, scanning sonars, archive data and historical evidence to assist marine scientists and archaeologists mapping out the seafloor in search of missing World War II vehicles.
Their biggest lead came from Papua New Guinean elders whose knowledge of the area and the surrounding coast led researchers to the two bombers.
The B-25 Mitchell bombers were documented and surveyed once found. Katy O'Connell, Project Recover's Executive Director, debunked some misconceptions about finding sunken aircraft:
Image: Project Recover
“People have this mental image of an airplane resting intact on the seafloor, but the reality is that most planes were often already damaged before crashing, or broke up upon impact. And, after soaking in the sea for decades, they are often unrecognisable to the untrained eye, often covered in corals and other sea life, our use of advanced technologies, which led to the discovery of the B-25, enables us to accelerate and enhance the discovery and eventual recovery of our missing servicemen."
The archive revealed the bomber was manned by six crew members- one died on impact, and the other five were taken captive by the Japanese. The Pacific was the backdrop to the war’s most infamous battles. It was host to many air attacks beginning in January 1942 and lasting until August 1945.
Image: Project Recover
The B-25 bomber was the most advanced machinery of its time, heavily armed and built with a bomb capacity of 2,268-kilograms. The warbirds were used in almost 10,000 missions from bombing Tokyo to photo reconnaissance.
This will be the sixth plane discovered by the Project Recovery team since 2012. The information found at the crash site will be forwarded to the Pentagon where any surviving relatives will be contacted.
According to O’Connell, there are still 73,000 US servicemen unaccounted and a further 2000 Australian servicemen unaccounted for in the Papua New Guinea area alone. The team is hoping to provide families of those who are still missing with some closure.
We hope that our global efforts can help to bring closure and honour the service of the fallen.
Header: Project Recover