B17 BOMBER, COR­SICA

Sport Diver - - 100 Dives to do before you die -

Cor­sica has many dive sites around its rocky shores, but the most-fa­mous is un­doubt­edly the re­mains of a B17 bomber ly­ing off Calvi. In World War Two, the Mediter­ranean was one of the front lines as both sides fought for supremacy of the strate­gi­cally im­por­tant re­gion, and Cor­sica was right in the thick of it. The B17 had taken off from Fog­gia in Italy on Valen­tine’s Day in 1944, bound for a mis­sion to Verona, but it was in­ter­cepted by en­emy fighters just be­fore it could be­gin its run. A fierce bat­tle erupted, and sev­eral of the crew were killed be­fore friendly P47 Thun­der­bolts turned up to save the day. The cap­tain re­alised how badly dam­aged his air­craft was, and he nursed the stricken bomber to­wards Cor­sica, even­tu­ally ditch­ing the huge plane into the sea. A to­tal of seven crew sur­vived the or­deal. The B17’s fi­nal rest­ing place is in around 30m of wa­ter, less than a fiveminute boat ride from the har­bour. It lies up­right and mainly in­tact (with the ex­cep­tion of the nose and tail sec­tions) on sand and rub­ble at the base of a rocky slope. The en­tire air­craft can be ex­plored in one dive. The in­tact cock­pit is the fo­cal point of the dive, and the pi­lot’s seat and the con­trols can still be seen. The four en­gines are also quite well pre­served, with the im­pres­sive pro­pel­lers still in place. The vis­i­bil­ity around Calvi is gen­er­ally quite good, af­ford­ing divers good over­all views of the bomber, which makes for a very pho­to­genic and dy­namic sub­ject for un­der­wa­ter pho­tog­ra­phers.

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