MILI LAGOON, Marshall Islands, Jan 25, 2002 -- A B-25D "Mitchell" bomber [ B-25D 41-30613 ] has been discovered by a historical research diver in Mili Lagoon in the Marshall Islands.
Matt Holly was working on an underwater survey of the lagoon for the RMI (Republic of the Marshall Islands) Historic Preservation Office when he discovered the "D" type medium range bomber on his final dive about a mile from shore.
According to Holly, the aircraft is in excellent condition with the main fuselage and wings intact, however, the tail and engines evidently detached on impact and have not yet been found. The cockpit is also well-preserved with controls, gauges, pilots'seat, radios, top turret with twin 50 caliber machine gun shells, piles of live 50 caliber machine gun shells and both waist guns.
The B-25 is protected by Marshall Islands law and the Mili Atoll Local Government has banned diving at the site until the aircraft has been thoroughly documented by the RMI Historical Preservation Office.
According to historical records, the B-25, part of the 7th Air Force 41st Bomb Group, 396th squadron, was shot down on January 19, 1944 during a mission to bomb the Japanese air base at Mili.
The plane was approaching Mili Lagoon at an altitude of 75-100 feet when exploding anti-aircraft shells damaged the forward part of the fuselage. It went down in the lagoon just in front of the Japanese airbase headquarters.
Two died in the crash but a Japanese patrol boat picked up five surviving crew members who were badly burned and injured.
According to documents from war crimes investigations, the five crew members received medical treatment and were then brutally tortured and interrogated.
After 10 days, Japanese army and navy commanders who were later prosecuted for war crimes, beheaded all five crew members. Their remains have never been located.