The F4U at Munda
by H. E. Sawyer
I had the good fortune to dive the recently discovered F4U at Munda on 20th February 2006. I heard about the wreck shortly after arriving in Gizo for a weeks diving, & badgered dive operator Danny Kennedy to arrange a day trip. The draw of a pristine Corsair on a white sandy bottom was irresistable.
According to Danny, the wreck was spotted by a diver doing research on a reef, who happened to look out into the blue, & saw a shape on the sand. Closer inspection revealed the plane.
The trip out to Munda in the small dive boat was hard on the buttocks & the bones, as we bounced over rough seas. Hail came horizontally into our faces, so much so divers held fins to protect themselves, or crouched down in whatever nook they could find.
Although the hail subsided, it was still overcast & cold as the boat moored over the site. The skipper confided that the weather had been poor every time he’d visited the plane.
Rolling over the side into the warm water was a relief. I finned hard to get down as quickly as possible to extend my bottom time, arranging trim as I went. Already I could pick out the blurred shape below, such was the contrast between wreck & sand.
The Corsiar looked in amazing condition, given any landing on water, & the secondary impact on the seabed having sunk over 50m, & presumably gathered some momentum.
But it appears to have landed flush on to the sand, as if it floated. There was very little coral growth, given sixty years immersion.
Like all planes I have dived, it was a surreal sight, to see something built for the sky now sunk & parked in a totally alien environment. I wondered about the young combatant who flew her, & wondered what became of him after ditching here, so far from home. His plane is still beautiful.