PBY4 lost 3-3-43 Cape Esperance Solomon Islands

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bob abbott
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Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:07 pm

PBY4 lost 3-3-43 Cape Esperance Solomon Islands

Post by bob abbott » Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:47 pm

My Uncle, Ensign William R. Gallagher was on flight # 31948 with pilot Lt. Fisher and crew when they were lost 3-3-43 returning to Henderson Field from a bomb mission.
There is some confusion because in the book "We flew Alone" this plane is listed as going down on Feb 14th 1943 yet my uncle's flight book clearly lists 31948 on many missions after Feb 14th and is the plane he listed as what he flew on 3-3-43. The book lists flight numbers 31947 and 31950 as the planes that went down on 3-3-43... in any case my uncle was on one of these planes.
A plane from his group reported seeing a large fire and pieces of plane coming apart at 1,200 feet between Russel Island and Cape Esperance. That may have been his plane.

Does anyone have any information on this?
How deep is the sea there? Is there any chance of conduction a salvage operation in this area?


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Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2008 3:08 pm

Re: PBY4 lost 3-3-43 Cape Esperance Solomon Islands

Post by ccowx » Sat Oct 01, 2016 9:40 am

Paul Allan had his mega yacht/research vessel the Octopus there a year or so back. He did a bunch of surveys of WWII wrecks, I believe much of it around Savo Island, which is right there as well. I recall he did go towards Esperance as well.

The short answer is that I highly doubt that it is possible to find anything. An aircraft exploding at 1200' would scatter pieces over a considerable area. I believe the water there is at least 600' deep and the area you describe is probably 20x10 miles. To find a ship there is challenging and would take weeks with a modern research vessel and ROV's etc. To find scattered pieces of an aircraft would be a major expedition and likely take years, millions of dollars and no promises. Bear in mind that there are literally dozens of aircraft on the bottom in that immediate vicinity plus ships and barges and all sorts of war junk.

I don't mean to be discouraging, but unless your last name is Gates or Rockefeller, it is beyond the means of a private individual.


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