Researchers have captured stunning images of an aircraft wreckage site on the ocean floor. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
Researchers have captured stunning images of an aircraft wreckage site on the ocean floor. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

Eerie images of plane at bottom of ocean

THE wreck of a US World War II aircraft has been revealed in stunning detail 77 years after it was lost off Oahu, Hawaii.

Experts from Project Recover and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego on the private research vessel RV Petrel used sophisticated technology to image the wreck of the Grumman TBF Avenger, Fox News reported.

The site, which was first discovered in 1999 by the Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, is thought to be associated with three US servicemen who are missing in action since 1942.

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Image of the crashed plane off Hawaii, created from high-resolution video data from a remotely operated vehicle. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
Image of the crashed plane off Hawaii, created from high-resolution video data from a remotely operated vehicle. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

 

RV Petrel is part of Vulcan Inc., a research organisation set up by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The latest images were scanned as part of Project Recover, which harnesses technology in an attempt to find and repatriate Americans missing in action during World War II.

 

A close-up of the wreckage. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
A close-up of the wreckage. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

 

"On October 11, 1942, three US TBF-Avenger aircraft from squadron VT-3 collided during a training flight off Naval Air Station Kaneohe, now Marine Corps Base Hawaii," the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego explained in a statement.

"Two of the aircraft crashed into the water immediately at the time of the incident. All six crew members of these two aircraft were killed and remain missing in action. The crew of the third plane bailed out successfully and were rescued."

 

Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

 

The plane wreck is lying on the seabed at a depth of about 100m, and the engine is about 50m away.

"The type of aircraft, location and distribution of aircraft wreckage at the site are all consistent with the historical loss of the two VT-3 Avengers on October 11, 1942," the Scripps statement continued.

There is, however, no sign of the plane's tail, and researchers are unable to say which aircraft it is.

 

The plane’s engine resting on the seabed. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
The plane’s engine resting on the seabed. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

Details of the site will be shared with the US Department of Defence's Defence POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

RV Petrel is no stranger to seabed discoveries. Researchers aboard the ship recently discovered the wrecks of the Japanese aircraft carriers Kaga and Akagi 77 years after they were sunk by US forces during the Battle of Midway.

 

Experts revealed the plane wreck in new detail. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
Experts revealed the plane wreck in new detail. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

 

"This project was a great bookend to our Midway Survey," Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Vulcan Inc., said in a statement.

"VT-3, assigned to the USS Yorktown, was one of three Torpedo Squadrons that took part in the battle of Midway."

In 2019, experts on RV Petrel also discovered the wreck of World War II aircraft carrier USS Wasp in the Coral Sea more than 70 years after the ship was sunk during the Guadalcanal campaign.

 

Project Hawaii Recover. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
Project Hawaii Recover. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

 

Separately last year, researchers aboard the RV Petrel discovered one of the first Japanese battleships to be sunk by US forces during World War II. Imperial Japanese Navy ship Hiei sank on November 14, 1942, in the Solomon Islands.

Mr Allen died in October 2018 from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. His research organisation has discovered a host of historic military shipwrecks, such as the wrecks of the USS Helena, USS Lexington and USS Juneau.

 

The aircraft was lost off the coast of Hawaii. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover
The aircraft was lost off the coast of Hawaii. Picture: Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California San Diego/RV Petrel/Vulcan Inc./Project Recover

 

The group's biggest discovery, however, came in 2017 when Mr Allen and his team found the long-lost wreck of the USS Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission


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