Australian minehunter finds US WWII aircraft 44 meters below surface

A sonar picture taken onboard HMAS Huon of the F4F Wildcat, which was found laying in 44 metres of water off the Solomon Islands. Photo: Royal Australian Navy

The crew of the Australian minehunter HMAS Huon has found a missing American World War II plane during a mine clearance operation in the Solomon Islands.

The South West Pacific nation was the scene of bitter fighting between US and Japanese forces from 1942 until 1945.

At the request of the United States Department of Defense, Huon began the search for the Grumman F4F Wildcat downed in the waters off the islands. The plane was found resting at the bottom of the ocean in 44 meters of water.

Leading Seaman Combat Systems Operator – Mine Warfare Januario Callos operated the ship’s mine disposal vehicle during the search.

He said finding the aircraft was a testament to the ship’s capability.

“Although the objective was not directly related to the scope of mine warfare, it felt good to prove that we can use our sonar and mine disposal vehicle to achieve a wide range of taskings,” Leading Seaman Callos said.

“The airframe of the Wildcat was heavily encrusted with coral and sea life as a result of over 70 years spent underwater, so we were unable to distinguish any features that would enable an exact identification of the aircraft.”

The Grumman F4F Wildcat is an American carrier-based fighter aircraft that began service with both the United States Navy and the Royal Navy in 1940.

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