The remains of two B-25 bombers that disappeared from the skies over 70 years ago have been located in the waters off Papua New Guinea. IFL Science reports that the planes were discovered by Project Recover, an organization dedicated to tracking down U.S. aircraft that crashed into the sea during World War II.
World War II planes have been recovered from lakes and backyards, but finding decades-old wreckage at the bottom of the Pacific poses more of a challenge. The team of marine scientists and archaeologists at Project Recover uses aquatic robots, sonar scans, thermal cameras, manned dives, and historic data to pinpoint the underwater resting places of World War II soldiers around the globe.
One resource was particularly helpful in this case: the first-hand accounts of long-time residents of a seaside village in Papua New Guinea. After speaking with people in the town, the team narrowed down their search area and eventually came across the wrecks off the island’s coast.
During its heyday the B-25 was one of the most formidable bombers in the skies, with a bombing capacity of 5000 pounds. They were a common sight over that region of the Pacific between January 1942 and August 1945. The two recently discovered artifacts are among the planes that never returned home.
According to military records, one of the planes carried six crew members: five who became prisoners of war in Japan and one who perished in the accident. Today, the coral-covered B-25s blend in with the sea floor, making them easy to miss if you don’t know what to look for. “People have this mental image of an airplane resting intact on the sea floor, but the reality is that most planes were often already damaged before crashing, or broke up upon impact,” Katy O’Connell, Project Recover’s Executive Director, said in a statement.
After documenting the wreck site, Project Recover plans to return to the area later this year in pursuit of more leads.