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Fleet Air Arm
ROV video still 2003
|Pilot S/Lt Raymond L. Knott, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (MIA / KIA) Grantham, Lincolnshire
Crashed May 16, 1944
Built by Vought. This aircraft was number 15 in the sequence of production. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as F4U-1 Corsair bureau number 18182. Other sources state Corsair JT160 never had a USN bureau number assigned. This Corsair was delivered to the United Kingdom as part of defense aid.
Assigned to the Royal Navy (RN) to the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) as Corsair Mark I serial number JT160 (also listed as JT-160). Painted with sea gray upper surfaces and sky gray lower surfaces. Assigned to HMS Saker to 732 Squadron operating from NAS Brunswick in Brunswick, Maine. Fuselage code 3BH painted in black and outlined in white.
During 1998, Historic Aircraft Recovery Corporation (HARC) owners David Tallichet and Alfred Hagen conducted a sonar survey of Sebago Lake, Maine. They located an aircraft wreck at a depth of 300' and afterwards initiated a court action to arrest the wreck. as part of their attempt to claim title to the submerged aircraft. On June 21, 2003 HARC secured an arrest order and paid a fee, so the court document could be placed into a container and secured to the aircraft. In fact, the aircraft they located was a postwar amphibian, not the Corsair.
In 2003, a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) funded by Historic Aircraft Recovery Corporation (HARC) conducted a dive on a submerged aircraft wrapped in fishing lines that was identified as this Corsair. The ROV footage confirmed the identity including the fuselage Royal Navy roundel, fuselage code "3BH" and black serial number stencil "ROYAL NAVY JT 160" and fin flash on the tail. The cockpit canopy was in the open position with the seat visible and unidentified debris on the forward side of the cockpit.
After the discovery and potential savlage of this Corsair was announced, the State of Maine issued two emergency site declarations to make it illegal to salvage the submerged aircraft without a permit from the state and an emergency protection zone around the site. Maine believed the aircraft were "eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places". Also, the United Kingdom also voiced objections over the potential salvage, citing the fact that both aircraft are the military graves of the two British pilots who died aboard them.
In the final court ruling, U. S. District Court District of Maine in Admiralty - Historic Aircraft Recovery Corp. plaintiff v. State of Maine and the United Kingdom November 24, 2003 the salvage was overruled, ruling that US Admiralty Law (and arrest claims) did not apply to the aircraft in Sebago Lake and dismissed the case, blocking the potential salvage, ruling in favor of the wishes of Maine and the United Kingdom. The ruling was also a moral victory because the proposed salvage involved two war graves and was a commercial venture.
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