New WWII Planes
Jack McKee, our Instructor Intern had the stunning opportunity to work with the team of Sealark Maritime Exploration, lead by expedition leaders Ewan Stevenson and Matt Wray, alongside Mark Roche and Dave Moran. The expedition team was working with Dive Munda on the search for some new WWII wrecks, and also were honorary invited guests to help us lay commemorative plaques on 6 of our WWII underwater wrecks in Magical Munda. Jack wrote this stunning story on Messenger to owner, Belinda and we loved it so much that we just had to copy it into our weekly blog and share with you. Enjoy, and oh you can thank us later! ;-)
“So I was having dinner with Jos and Chevone and Barney from the Museum, when he mentioned that his cousin Alphine had removed a canopy from a plane on a reef between Hombupeka and Hopei. So obviously that caught my interest, as I was at the same time trying to track down Soga Kea from Eghelo, who had previously tried to show myself and the Sealark team a plane at Rendova. So anyway, the following morning I gave Barney a call and arranged for him to take me to see the canopy which his cousin had removed. I subsequently began the long trek to the Peter Joseph WW2 Museum. Upon arrival Barney took me to Alphine's house and lo and behold, there was the canopy of a Vought F4U-1A Corsair propped up against a tree.
I didn't actually know what plane the canopy was from when I first saw it, but I was fairly confident it was American. When we headed back to the museum, Barney and I went through his book of WW2 planes and compared their canopies to my photos. However, none of the planes matched. So I headed back to AGH and did a bit more research, but was stumped. So I sent an email to Ewan asking what it was. I'm pleased to say that I did actually manage to identify it as from a Corsair before Ewan replied. We just didn't find it in the book because as with all of the Corsairs we have here, it has the old 'birdcage' style canopy, which only the very first Corsairs had. Ewan obviously knew exactly what it was and confirmed my identification which was good. So today I was hoping to meet up with Alphine so that he could take me to this new Corsair wreck, but he didn't show up.
But then Billy told me that he'd heard some rumours of a plane located off of Mbiula, and he was very confident that the local people would know exactly where it was. So Billy took me in the AGH 60 to Mbiula and sure enough, the local people knew where the plane was and took us straight there. Only they had said it was fully intact, with only the guns missing, so I was a little but disappointed to find that that was not the case. But it was a new plane, so I was still very excited of course.
I took plenty of photos but I hadn't a clue what it was. If it wasn't for the propellor and obvious wing structure I wouldn't have even been sure if it was a plane. So I sent a whole load of photos to Ewan and he has now confirmed that it is a Wildcat, making it our third Wildcat wreck.”