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A World War Two Underwater Plane Wreck: The History of a P-47

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A World War Two Underwater Plane Wreck: The History of a P-47
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    A World War Two Underwater Plane Wreck: The Historyof a P-47 Whitney Petrey, University of Hawaii at ManoaJeff Kuwabara, Marine Option Program Coordinator, UH-ManoaCindy Hunter, Marine Option Program Director, UH-ManoaHans Van Tilburg, NOAA Maritime Archaeologist, National Marine Sanctuary Program May 1, 2008Marine Option Program Project, Spring 2008  2 Abstract Oahu is surrounded by shipwrecks and plane wrecks, however little is being doneto study the sites or to conserve the sites because they are not in national sanctuarywaters. The specific site of this underwater study is at a depth of 15 feet and is locatedbetween the Mokulua Islands and Lanikai Beach. The site consists of the remains of a p-47 WWII fighter plane known as a Thunderbolt. Between January and May 2008,research has been done on the aircraft to determine when it went down, who was the pilotflying it and the importance of Thunderbolts in the Pacific theatre of WWII. Additionally,an underwater archaeological inventory survey was conducted between March 21 andMarch 29, 2008 to determine how the plane crashed, what portions have survived overthe years and what the current state of the site is. However, the inventory survey was notcompleted due to adverse weather conditions but a data analysis was completed based ondetails obtained by other parties. The data collected will contribute to the overallknowledge of site preservation in high energy environments as well as document this sitefor future reference and preservation.  Contents Abstract 2   Introduction 2   Historical Research 3   History of the P-47 Thunderbolt ................................................................................................... 3   P-47 Thunderbolt Design ........................................................................................................... 4   Bellows Field Thunderbolt Accident Reports ............................................................................ 5   History of the Lanikai Planewreck, Serial No. 43-25601 ............................................................ 6   1 st Lieutenant William H. Sparks ............................................................................................... 8   Results of Fieldwork 8   Methods and Materials ................................................................................................................. 8   Fieldwork ...................................................................................................................................... 9   Weather Conditions .................................................................................................................... 11   Analysis of the Wreck ................................................................................................................ 13   Preservation 17   Conclusion 19   References 21   Appendix A: USAF Accident Reports 23   Appendix B: Evaluation of Learning 26    List of Figures Figure 1. Aerial photography (http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/asp/coasts/oahu/flt25.asp)showing location of fieldwork 3   Figure 2. Design Analysis of the Thunderbolt (http://rwebs.net/avhistory/history/p-47.htm) 5   Figure 3. Picture of P- 47‟s at Bellow Air Force Field courtesy of Cory Graff  7   Figure 4. USGS Mokapu Point Quadrangle showing location of fieldwork by day andarea covered. 10   Figure 5. Aerial Photography (http://www.soest.hawaii.edu/asp/coasts/oahu/flt25.asp)illustrating the location of GPS coordinates 10   Figure 6. Fuselage and right wing, courtesy of Mokulua Kayak Guides, Inc. 14   Figure 7. Engine and Propeller, courtesy of Mokulua Kayak Guides, Inc. 14   Figure 8. Picture of the P-47 showing location of salvaged equipment, courtesy of Mokulua Kayak Guides, Inc. 16   Figure 9. Cut-Away Design Analysis of the Thunderbolt(http://rwebs.net/avhistory/history/p-47.htm) 16   Figure 10. USAF Accident Report #4-IEO-39, aircraft serial #43-25601, pilot 2 nd Lt. BenG. Parsons Jr. 24   Figure 11. USAF Accident Report #44-6-21-502, aircraft serial #43-25601, pilot 1 st Lt.William H. Sparks 24    2 Introduction A World War Two fighter plane wrecked in the water off of Lanikai Beach on the islandof Oahu in Hawaii while taking off from Bellows Air Force Field in 1944. Many people knewabout this plane wreck because of its proximity to shore as well as its proximity to the MokuluaIslands which are a popular tourist and kayaker destination (seeFigure 1). The Mokulua Islandsare alternatively known as the Twin Islands or simply the Mokes. While the general location of the plane has been known to local residents of Oahu over the last 50 years, it has not been thesubject of any type of historical or scientific research. This article documents the history of theplane from its creation through its crash as well as its preservation today and its preservation forthe future. As a historical and archaeological document, this paper will also examine people whowere either affected by or who are currently affecting the plane wreck which is considered anaviation artifact. A week of fieldwork was conducted to survey the plane wreck, which althoughunsuccessful lead to the discovery of a wealth of knowledge among the local residents. Thisknowledge was compiled and analyzed. The current condition of the plane and recentenvironmental influence on the plane wreck are recorded.
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