Built by General Motors, Eastern Aircraft
Division. Delivered to the United States Navy (USN) as TBM-1C Avenger bureau number unknown.
During July 1944 took off on a mission to bomb a power plant in Palau as part of "Operation Snapshot".
Flying low over the target, when this Avenger released its bomb, the explosion rocked the aircraft and caused it to crash into the sea, killing the gunner and radio operator.
Fates of the Crew
The pilot survived the crash and was captured by the Japanese and became a Prisoner Of War (POW) and was immediately executed.
This Avenger crashed off western Aimeliik Island. One of the wing wreckage impacted into a mangrove swamp. After years of growth, this wing wreckage was lifted out of the water.
During 2005, a team from Bent Prop investigated the wing wreckage in the mangrove swamp but was unable to locate the rest of the aircraft. Later, a Palau resident remembered her father telling her about an airplane crashing into the sea and indicated the area to the team, where the wreckage was later located.
On March 24, 2014 a team from Project Recover including Bent Prop with staff and students from Scripps Institute of Oceanography and the University of Delaware located the wreckage of this Avenger. Four days later, they also located the wreckage of a F6F Hellcat 41881. e site was reported to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC). On March 31, 2014 a flag ceremony was conducted over the crash site with a U. S. and Palau flag. Afterwards, th
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List July 1944
BentProp "P-MAN VII Update 5 March 2005" (photos) via Wayback March 30, 2016
BentProp "P-MAN VII Update 15 March 2005" (photos) via Wayback March 30, 2016
"P-MAN VII 2005 Final Report via Wayback October 20, 2010
BentProp "P-MAN XVI Update # 12 - Success, TBM-style!" 25 March 2014 via Wayback April 2, 2016
BentProp "P-MAN XVI Update # 13 - Sean's photos for The Big Find." 24 March 2014 via Wayback April 2, 2010 BentProp "P-MAN XVI Update # 14 - A 2005 retrospective: finding a TBM wing in the mangroves, hearing a family legend, and closing another circle. THIS is why we never give up." 26 March 2014 via Wayback March 31, 2016
FoxNews "Group hunts Pacific jungles for remains of WWII fighters, planes" April 3, 2014
"Joyce said the wreckage was from a General Motors TBM Avenger that crashed in the ocean after a mission to bomb a power plant. The plane was flying so low that when the bomb went off, the explosion rocked the plane and caused the crash. Japanese soldiers captured the pilot and immediately executed him. The plane's two other occupants went down with the plane.
'Nine years ago a Palauan showed us a wing of an Avenger deep in a mangrove swamp,' BentProp’s Flip Colmer said from Palau, in reporting on the search. “The mangrove trees had grown enough to lift the entire wing up out of the water. But no other parts could be found and previous searches came up empty. 'Then a Palauan friend of BentProp’s told us a few years later that her father told her of watching the airplane get hit and crashing off the coast,' Colmer said. 'She even pointed to the area where we eventually found the aircraft.'”
CNET "How BentProp and undersea robots found long-lost WWII bombers" April 20, 2014
(Photo) Later that day [March 31, 2014], Scannon would lead a similar ceremony above the wreckage of a TBM Avenger also shot down in 1944."
Science Daily "Downed World War II aircraft missing for 72 years located in Pacific Islands" May 25, 2016
Ocean News & Technology "Returning From the Deep: WW2 Aircraft Discovered off the Coast of Palau" May 2014
Scripps "New Technology Enables Historic Finds" November 6, 2014
"In the case of the two planes found last spring, a TBM Avenger and an F6F Hellcat, BentProp had been searching for them for nearly 10 years. It took the REMUS-mounted instruments to see them at a depth of more than 100 feet, hidden from plain view by the persistent murk of the seafloor."
Science Daily "Locating World War II airmen lost in waters off Palau" November 10, 2014
"The group narrowed their search area and in March 2014, the AUVs found the remainder of the Avenger bomber, which had been missing in action for 70 years. A few days later, sonar images helped reveal a second aircraft, an F6F Hellcat, in a second location."
Thanks to Katherine Rasdorf for additional research and analysis.
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January 9, 2018