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.

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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).

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