World War 2 bomber found near Madang
B-24 found underwater near Madang Kevin McQuillan reports on the discovery of a World War 2 plane wreck, found thanks to modern technology and some dogged detective work by the family of one of the shot-down crew.
AB-24 American bomber shot down during World War 2 has been located in Hansa Bay, near Madang. The plane, called Heaven Can Wait, was on a mission to bomb Japanese antiaircraft batteries, when it was shot down on March 11, 1944.
The B-24 was found by Project Recover, which consists of marine scientists, archaeologists and volunteers.
They started their search after family members of one of the B-24 crew carried out four years of research into its possible location.
The family compiled historical eyewitness narratives from official military reports, mission documents, and diary entries from crew on other aircraft in formation with the B-24 during its flight.
Family members of one of the B-24 crew carried out four years of research into its possible location.
Based on that data, the recovery team believed Heaven Can Wait to be offshore at the northern end of the bay, about 180 kilometres east of Madang.
After 11 days on the water, and a search that covered nearly 27 square kilometres of the sea floor, using scanning sonars, high-definition imagers, advanced diving, and unmanned aerial and underwater robotic technologies, the team located the bomber’s debris in 65 metres of water.
They also used the Kalibobo Spirit, a 30-metre motor yacht operated by Melanesian Tourist Services based at the Madang Resort Hotel, and the specially fitted out boat, Dallman Diver, provided by Niugini Dive Adventures.
Eric Terrill, co-founder of Project Recover, says the find stirred a range of emotions among the recovery crew.
Dan Friedkin, a team member of Project Recover and chief executive officer of the Friedkin Group, a consortium of business people who fund the project, says search efforts will continue for other aircraft.
“Our search efforts for the more than 72,000 missing American service members from World War 2 will continue as we seek to bring closure to the families impacted by their loss.”
Fly over ... Heaven Can Wait was lost in 1944 (opposite page); a flag ceremony (top) to remember the crew (above middle); the Project Recover team launches search equipment (above); a declassified crash report (above right); wreckage on the sea floor (right); the Kalibobo Spirit during the search (main).