Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Discussion about wrecks and losses as well as historic sites in the Pacific.

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Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:31 am

The Best of the Saipan Theory: the Saipan theory is a theory that will not go away. Primarily because of the statements of WWII USMC veterans who served on Saipan during the battle for liberation of the island. For someone to believe the crash and sink or the Nikumaroro theory, they must assume the veterans are simply creating war stories: i.e. lying to create attention to themselves. The Orona-Saipan theory believes the marines and incorporates the recollections into the theory. Different from most versions of the Saipan theory, the Orona-Saipan theory does not connect Amelia with a spy mission planned by the US Government and coordinated by the US Navy. The majority of Saipan theory has the spy story upside down. The IJA created a spy hoax to influence the IJN strategy and executed it brilliantly such that many researchers today assume that Amelia was flying as a spy mission for the US. The salient points of the Saipan theory that support the Orona-Saipan theory are:

Eyewitness and next generation stories of seeing Amelia at Milli Atoll and Jaluit are abundant. According to the Orona theory, the IJA wanted local Marshallese citizens seeing Amelia to be eyewitness to the capture of the "spy". As a major element of the spy hoax, this eyewitness testimony would be presented to the IJN leadership that the US was indeed spying on Japanese facilities. After being spirited away from the Phoenix Islands via submarine, undetected by the huge USN search effort, Amelia and the navigator were paraded about as spies on Milli. The Orona theory speculates the IJA used a similar aircraft to represent the "spy plane". While the original eyewitnesses are long gone, the descendants still recount this story and it has become an official part of the Marshallese history and culture. In the 1980's a Marshallese stamp was issued commemorating the event.

US forces at Kwajalien Roi-Namur found a barracks quarters fitted out for a women and a book annotated as "Amelia Earhart's 10 Year diary". The "diary" disappeared in the mud and blood of war. The Orona-Saipan theory speculates that Amelia was held on Roi-Namur, a secure military installation for 5 years. After the IJN defeat at Midway, and certainly after Yamamoto's death in spring 1943, the IJN influence waned and the IJA wrested control of Amelia's captivity away from Yamamoto's control. Yamamoto took care to ensure her well being from his flagship headquarters at the Truk lagoon. Why would Yamamoto seek to care for Amelia? In short, insurance. Yamamoto, having traveled and studied in the US, knew he could never defeat the industrial might and resultant Naval power of the US. As he turned his navy to the offense, he realized that a good word from an American heroine might save him from the gallows, if he considered life after defeat. Unlikely for a samurai, but why not as the protection would be low cost.

USMC Wallack found a briefcase after blowing a safe in a IJA military building on Saipan. It was stamped "AE" and contain documents belonging to Amelia. It too disappeared into the fog of war. The investigation of the plane at Orona will be proof or failure of the theory: is the briefcase in the plane or not? Is Amelia's camera in the plane or not? Proof awaits with the investigation of the plane.

USMC Devine described a plane at the As Lito field hanger(note: I have been misspelling As Lito earlier) as being that of Amelia Earhart that was later burned by unidentified US forces. Devine wrote a book about his encounter.

USMC Ford described the plane in the hanger at As Lito as having "two windows at the rear just like Amelia Earhart's plane". The TIGHAR research has revealed that Amelia's plane had but one window when it left the US. This concurs with the Orona theory that a fake L10 model was presented to the IJN as Amelia Earhart's "spy" plane. Japan had earlier purchased at least one Lockheed L10 model prior to the aircraft sales embargo the US applied as tensions between the two countries escalated. After the island was liberated, the plane was destroyed to cover the embarrassment that would arise if John Q. Citizen discovered that military capable sales to Japan did occur before the embargo.

Eyewitness and next generation stories of seeing Amelia at the Garapsn prison are abundant. The timeline of these stories are confusing. According to the Orona theory, the IJA was not too worried about local citizens, including Japanese who might communicate with the home islands, seeing Amelia at the Garapan prison. As the war continued and the attitude of the two societies progressed from shock and anger to abhorrence and hatred, the attitude toward Amelia changed such that there was no reason to fear some reprisal if news of her imprisonment leaked out. Amelia was very popular in Japan before the war and spoke Japanese. That proved useful on Roi-Namur, but nothing could save her as the conditions at the Garapan prison were terrible. Her health declined and in the late sumer 1943 she died of complications from simple bacterial infectious decease rampant in the tropical Pacific during the war years. The rudimentary care by the medical staff did not include antibiotics.

In the attached image, the dogleg back to Nikumaroro from Orona is not shown. The IJA pirates returned to clean up the listening post camp and place the dead body of the copra worker from Orona before departing for the Marshall Islands by submarine.

Tom Maxwell
2nd Lieutenant
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:54 am

Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:34 am

The attached file noted above.
Attachments
Longtrip.jpg
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Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Sat Feb 20, 2016 10:37 am

I will try to attach a more clear image later. I'm having trouble with "file size too large. Maybe everything must be .jpg ?

Tom Maxwell
2nd Lieutenant
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Fri Feb 26, 2016 2:01 pm

The immediate future for investigation of the Orona-Saipan theory seems bleak. The TIGHAR research group has complete contractual control of the search for Amelia within the island nation which includes all of the Phoenix Islands. TIGHAR was informed of the plane in the lagoon at Orona in 2010 at the same time as the Kiribati Government and PIPA administrators. PIPA- Phoenix Islands Protected Area administered by Kiribati and the New England Aquarium (NEA). The image was discovered in 2008.

Tom Maxwell
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Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:54 am

Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Mon Feb 29, 2016 2:22 pm

The planned 2017 expedition to Nikumaroro by TIGHAR may include the use of manned submersibles of the University of Hawaii HURL- Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory. Hurl has two operational MOVs- the PISCES IV and V machines. These are very expensive and the funding for such a trip is very distant at this time. If funding is found from other sources, HURL may incorporate a more broad based science study of the Phoenix group on that same trip. HURL also supports a learning program called MAST- Marine Archeology Systems technology? MAST includes SCUBA teams similar to the one that did the work on the Kanehoe Bay PBY recently. If Orona is included in the 2017 study, the MAST scuba team would be the obvious participant as the MOVs PISCES are not required in the shallow waters of the lagoon and expenses are greatly reduced.

The Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor Ford Field has expressed interest in the image. They have room for the display of the plane at Ford Island Hanger if it is ever recovered. Next to the swamp ghost B17? The Ninety Nines have expressed interest in the image. Note that interest does not mean support and concurrence. These and other interested groups have the fund raising mechanisms in place to support HURL investigating the lagoon at Orona. If these groups can be lobbied into supporting HURL in a discovery effort, the funding for recovery and restoration should be easily obtained by the Pacific Aviation museum.

NASM- National Air and Space Museum has absolutely no interest. They are throughly convinced that "crashed and sank" is the answer to the mystery.

Tom Maxwell
2nd Lieutenant
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:54 am

Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Thu Mar 03, 2016 5:00 pm

Orona was previously called Hull Island. Once the island nation of Kiribati was formed (1979) the islands were renamed with native meaning. Canton became Kanton, Gardner became Nikumaroro, and Hull became Orona. More information is at http://www.aquariusradar.com/AmeliaEarhartsplane.html and http://www.aquariusradar.com/AmeliaEarhartpage.html and http://www.aquariusradar.com/OronaSaipanTheory.html

Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:54 pm

Does anyone know if a MACR # is posted on our site for a missing B25 from Canton to Tutatilia, Samoa in 44'-45? I see many 5th and 7th Pacific AF B25s on the list, but nothing about Canton? Am I wrong? Have I overlooked it? Exactly how does one inquire at Maxwell Air History Museum about MACRs?

Tom Maxwell
2nd Lieutenant
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Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:54 am

Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Sun Mar 20, 2016 4:08 pm

Here is the expected flight path of the missing B25. Note that he path passes fairly close to Orona (Hull Island). I still can't get the file size down to something the site software accepts and still get any high resolution. ????
Attachments
Canton to Tutuila copy 3.tiff
Canton to Tutuila copy 3.tiff (85.19 KiB) Viewed 10864 times

RSwank
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Mon Mar 21, 2016 8:06 am

I assume you have seen this list:

https://tighar.org/wiki/Aircraft_lost_i ... Nikumaroro

The plane that seems to "match" is the Navy PBJ (B-25) lost 11 January 1944, missing enroute from Canton to Tutuilla, Samoa.

Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Mon Mar 21, 2016 9:27 am

Yes, thanks RS. I got on the wrong track thinking it was a USAAF aircraft. Navy aircraft PBJ serial number ASN 351131. I am reluctant to talk to the Navy MIA people because, as you and I agree, it's most likely not the PBJ. Instead it might be the L10E and I don't want to raise the expectations of the MIA searchers. They might confirm our analysis- not a B25- and that might help in the AE search. Hmmm? Considering it.

RSwank
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Mon Mar 21, 2016 2:42 pm

Some slight confusion as to the date of the loss. According to this link:

http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/USN/LLJan44.htm

a PBJ-1D, BuNO: 35131 from VMB-413 was lost on Jan 21, 1944 on a flight from Canton Island to Tutuila.

RSwank
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Mon Mar 21, 2016 4:10 pm

Here is the crew of the plane. All listed as missing from VMB-413 at Tutulia on this site:
https://missingmarines.com/

Again a slight date difference as all are listed as lost on January 22, 1944. I believe the loss occurred when VMB-413 was moving to their first base in January, 1944. They first went to Espiritu Santo for familiarization training then on to Sterling Island to commence operations.

First Lieutenant Stanley M. Duvall
https://www.abmc.gov/node/504556#.VvBTr9IrLMo
Second Lieutenant Raymon C. Dickey
https://www.abmc.gov/node/504506#.VvBfGdIrLMo
Sergeant William Fulton Moore
https://www.abmc.gov/node/505436#.VvBfntIrLMo
Sergeant Lee Jay. Curl
https://www.abmc.gov/node/502054#.VvBf9dIrLMo
Private First Class Lewis White Evans
https://www.abmc.gov/node/504657#.VvBgQtIrLMo

RSwank
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by RSwank » Wed Mar 23, 2016 10:43 am

There is a line about the loss of this plane in the book "PBJ Mitchell Units of the Pacific" by Jerry Scutts.
The unit was first moved on the escort carrier USS Kalinin Bay from the US to Ewa, Hawaii.

"A weak hook on a Ford Island crane caused VMB-413's first PBJ loss during unloading at Peal Harbor, and a second aircraft was lost en route between Canton and Samoa when three aircraft flew into a tropical front and only two emerged.

You could probably order the accident report from the link I gave previously as it may give the location where this plane was last seen.

Tom Maxwell
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Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Fri May 05, 2017 4:33 pm

Tom Maxwell wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:06 pm
Yes RS I am always reviewing and attempting to find better sat images. The difficulty is that while most modern satellite images have the necessary resolution, the capture moment must have brilliant sunlight, sunlight at the correct angle such that the reflection is not targeted away from the lens, and a quite surface condition. The 2006 GE image meets the requirements. Earlier and later GE images at Orona do not. Very hard to meet that last criteria- the wind blows constantly and strong from the east in those latitudes creating large surface waves on the lagoon surface.. I agree with you about the L10E being the better candidate than the B25. The basics of your post agree with my analysis at [url]http:aquariusradar.com/AmeliaEarhartsplane.html[/url] The airframe is covered by a sand covering (especially the wings and other flat surfaces) and a myriad of coral, sponges and sea critters that camouflage the airframe.

Tom Maxwell
2nd Lieutenant
Posts: 33
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2016 11:54 am

Re: Plane in the lagoon at Orona

Post by Tom Maxwell » Fri May 05, 2017 4:35 pm

Tom Maxwell wrote:
Wed Feb 03, 2016 5:06 pm
Yes RS I am always reviewing and attempting to find better sat images. The difficulty is that while most modern satellite images have the necessary resolution, the capture moment must have brilliant sunlight, sunlight at the correct angle such that the reflection is not targeted away from the lens, and a quite surface condition. The 2006 GE image meets the requirements. Earlier and later GE images at Orona do not. Very hard to meet that last criteria- the wind blows constantly and strong from the east in those latitudes creating large surface waves on the lagoon surface.. I agree with you about the L10E being the better candidate than the B25. The basics of your post agree with my analysis at http://www.aquariusradar.com/AmeliaEarhartsplane.html The airframe is covered by a sand covering (especially the wings and other flat surfaces) and a myriad of coral, sponges and sea critters that camouflage the airframe.

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