Robert Greinert interview with Pacific Wrecks
Interview April 2006. Robert Greinert is an Australian
salvager and restorer, and owner of World War II aircraft at HARS. He has an aircraft recovery permit
New Guinea National Museum to salvage aircraft, and is currently working to restore several aircraft and his own projects.
Tell About Yourself and your background
Like a lot of people I became involved in aviation via plastic kits. I became totally enraptured in the shapes and stories of the various aircraft. I developed a longing to own a WWII fighter to fly but never imagined it possible. At the age of 17 I came across an article in Air Classics magazine outlining the recovery of a P-39 Airacobra [P-39 "Erminie" 41-6951, actually recovered by CART and aquired by Beck] in North Queensland by Syd Beck. All of a sudden my world changed and I decided that maybe it was just possible and one should start looking.
At the age of 19 I hauled back to Sydney with a friend the remains of an Avro Anson cockpit which was my first restoration effort. The importance of this piece as an artifact from the Commonwealth Air Training Scheme did not go unnoticed and eventually the Australian War Memorial approached me with a view to acquiring it. Today it sits in a rather clever display in Aeroplane Hall where nearly one million visitors a year pass through.
Talk About Your Organization 'HARS'
In 1979 along with six other enthusiasts in a garage in suburban Sydney, we formed the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society (HARS). No one ever imagined it would grow to the organization it has today but it certainly has become one of the foremost organizations in the field of aviation preservation. I still actively serve as the Society’s Secretary and head of the Sheet metal /Restoration division.
We are now sought out by governments and institutions, nationally and internationally, for our expertise in the restoration and operation of vintage aircraft. Recently we were selected by the South Australian Government to repair and operate the Southern Cross replica. Our Prime Minister John Howard has also honored the HARS recently with a personal visit and a $250,000 grant towards our new multimillion dollar facility in Albion Park.
The recovery of aircraft is never an easy task and it was a great thrill to be part of one of aviation's great adventures with the recovery of the Super Constellation VH-EAG from the Tucson desert. My parents had migrated to Australia on a “Connie” and I recall their various reminisce of their first flight in an airplane. As the HARS army massed for the five year recovery plan one felt a personnel sense of achievement in having participated in the setting up of and running an organization that would lead to great works such as the Connie’s recovery to Australia.
Why is little about
yourself or projects published?
I DONT TALK ABOUT IT MUCH AND I RARELY GIVE INTERVIEWS. HOW MANY YEARS HAVE YOU BEEN CHASING ME? MUCH OF THE STUFF PRINTED IN MAGAZINES, WARBIRD OWNERS LISTS ETC ARE CREATED BY ENTHUSIASTS WHO ARE SCRAMBLING FOR MATERIAL AND WHAT THEY DONT KNOW THEY MAKE UP AND WHAT THEY DO KNOW THEY GENERALLY GET WRONG. IF PEOPLE WANT TO KNOW MORE ALL THEY HAVE TO DO IS ASK.
WHAT I DO OBJECT TO IS PEOPLE PUTTING STUFF OUT THAT IS INCORRECT AND THEN FAILING TO CORRECT IT WHEN THE ERRORS ARE POINTED OUT. PACIFIC WRECK DATABASE IS A CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THIS.
AND THE ACTIVITIES ARE WELL RECORDED IN PUBLICATIONS AND ALIKE OVER TIME, CREDIBLE MEDIA OUTLETS SUCH AS Classic Wings Magazine PROVIDE EXCELLENT COVERAGE. IF YOU ARE LIVING IN A INTERNET COCOON YOU ARE NOT GOING HEAR MUCH ABOUT WHAT IS GOING ON
THE PROBLEM FOR PEOPLE LIKE YOU (JUSTIN TAYLAN) IS THAT I STARTED SAVING HISTORYAND RESTORING WHEN YOU WERE GETTING OUT OF NAPPIES. SO YOU MISSED ALL THE MAGAZINES AND ARTICLES COVERING ALL THE WRECK RECOVERYS ETC.
What do you consider yourself:
I DONT CONSIDER MYSELF AS ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR. I AM PASSIONATE ABOUT AVAIATION HISTORY AND ITS PRESERVATION.
To ensure the long term survival of an object for the benefit of future generations is one of the greatest privileges a person can have in life. That object will convey many things to many different people. For me it is two things. Firstly the preservation of the memory of those involved in its manufacture and operation. Secondly, the memory of the purpose for which that object was created, whether it is for peaceful or war purposes.
Despite a distinct military bent, my work over the last 30 years in vintage aviation has been about preserving aviation objects for future generations. Leaving aviation objects outside to rot and be scrapped is not an option.
The ill-conceived notion that objects should be left to rot and protected as such is to guarantee that these sites will be clandestinely looted and stripped of anything of value, which will be sold off either as scrap or to collectors. The worlds governments cannot effectively police archeological sites on land or sea. To expect them to preserve aircraft wrecks in outdoor situations is utter folly. The website wreckchasing.com furthers the argument succinctly.
Every major aviation museum has, or is actively locating crash sites for potential exhibits or restorations. Institutions ranging from the National Air and Space Museum, the Air Force Museum, the National Museum of Naval Aviation to the Royal Air Force Museum and the Imperial War Museum have recovered aircraft from the wilds and either restored or displayed their finds. One of the best examples is located at the world-class Air Museum Planes of Fame in Chino, California. The museum displays the only complete Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bomber in a setting depicting the way it was located in the jungle. Many of the Grumman F4F Wildcats and Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers on display today were recovered from Lake Michigan years after training crashes sent them to rest on the murky bottom.
Many one-of-a-kind aircraft on display in museums owe their existence to wreck chasers. Outside the collections of the National Air and Space Museum and The Air Museum - Planes of Fame, the majority of surviving Japanese aircraft were recovered from their battlefield resting places and subsequently restored. The Sikorsky S-43 at the Pima Air and Space Museum, would not have survived had it not been for aircraft recovery pioneers such as Gary Larkins.
Many soldiers, sailors, and airmen gave their lives while training, fighting or being transported in military aircraft. Location, recovery and preservation of these objects is a an obligation and serves as a permanent reminder of their sacrifice.
Mention the Australian Beaufighters Recovered
In the early 80’s a decision was made by a group within HARS to recover and return to Sydney a pair of very corroded and incomplete Bristol Beaufighters [A19-144 and A19-148] in Western Australia. The saga of this recovery would fill a book but needless to say we succeeded, despite the determined efforts of others, and today we have a Mk 21 Beaufighter under rebuild for the HARS flying collection.
The recovery of the Beaufighters caused a national stir. The press ran articles of “stolen RAAF aircraft” and alike. We weathered the storm, created by people who suffered more from “tall poppy syndrome” and jealousy than pragmatism. They were the two best known aircraft wrecks in the country. Every one knew they were there and no one did anything about it.
The RAAF could have landed a Hercules on the airstrip where they sat and flown them out. They did nothing. The Aboriginal elders at Kalambaru were so impressed with our passion and our sense of history that they gave us the aircraft. Only after we removed the aircraft did those, who had done nothing, complain about our act of preservation.
Why do you believe this work is important?
TO NOT PRESERVE HISTORY IS TO FORGET THE LESSONS OF THE PAST. FUNDING COMES FROM MANY SOURCES, GOVERNMENT AND PRIVATE. I SPEND A LOT OF MY OWN MONEY ON PRESERVING HISTORY. WHAT DO I GET OUT OF IT. SIMPLY PERSONEL SATISFACTION KNOWING THAT THE STORY CAN BE TOLD FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS
I am often criticized for my recovery work and how that work gets spread around. If you conduct an analysis of those that criticize, you discover that they are either the armchair critics of this world that do nothing but sit behind a computer and complain to the world or commercial salvage organizations that seek to plunder for profit.
It has become trendy for the younger generation to promote dissent within the International preservation movement and argue that wrecks should be left where they are. This is there opinion and they are entitled to argue it. In reply I would simply advise that if you don’t believe in preserving history for future generations (and it can’t be done in the bush) stay behind your computers and get out of the way so we can get on with the job.
I SUGGEST THAT ANYBODY CONTEMPLATING THIS SHOULD SPEAK TO SOMEBODY WHO HAS ACTUALLY DONE IT BEFORE THEY THEY RUSH OFF AND WASTE A WHOLE LOT OF TIME AND MONEY ON A VENTURE THAT MAY PROVE FINANCIALLY AND PHYSICALLY DAMAGING.
PACIFIC WRECK DATABASE IS AN EXCELLENT PLACE TO START LOOKING FOR WRECKS AND I WOULD RECOMMEND IT TO ANYBODY WHO WANTS TO ENGAGE IN THE ACTIVITY OF SAVING HISTORY.
PACIFIC AIRCRAFT WRECKS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM BY CHARLES DARBY IS ALSO ANOTHER USEFULL STARTING POINT. I USE IT ALL THE TIME. A LOT OF PEOPLE, VETERANS, ENTHUSIASTS, MUSEUMS ETC COME TO US AND ASK US TO HELP.
THE GREATEST SOURCE FOR LOCATING WRECKS ARE THE ACTUAL LANDOWNERS WHO WANT TO SELL THE WRECKS SO THEY CAN BUY THE BASICS OF LIFE THAT YOU AND I TAKE FOR GRANTED.
SITTING IN A KUNAI PATCH FOR SIXTY YEARS IS NOT GOING TO PUT FOOD IN THE MOUTHS OF THEIR CHILDREN OR GET THEM THE CRITICAL MEDICINES THEY NEED. ONCE LOCATED WE DO THE RESEARCH TO DETERMINE THE STORY AND MAKE SURE THERE ARE NO MIA ISSUES INVOLVED.
Speak about your Vanuatu recovery of P-40Fs
THE P-40F RECOVERY [P-40F "Bone Crusher" 41-14112 & P-40F 41-14205] OUT OF VANAUTU WAS MY FIRST OVERSEAS RECOVERY. THE RECOVERY WAS SIMPLY PUT ON TO SAVE A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT P-40S THAT NEEDED SAVING. EVERYBODY KNEW ABOUT THEM, NOBODY WAS DOING ANYTHING ABOUT IT, IT WAS GREAT TO SAVE THEM AND SEE THEM GO TO GOOD HOMES. IAN WHITNEY WAS A MEMBER OF THE RECOVERY TEAM AND EVENTUALLY RECIEVED THE WORST AIRFRAME OF THE TWO SALVAGED. A FORTHCOMING ARTICLE IN Classic Wings Magazine will be dealing with the P-40F recovery. I was thinking of entitling it "What the F".
When did you first travel to Papua New Guinea?
I FIRST TRAVELLED TO PNG IN 1984. I LOVE THE PLACE AND THE PEOPLE. IT IS TRULY ONE OF THE MOST MAGICAL COUNTRIES ON THE PLANET
I WAS INVITED TO GO ALONG AT THE TIME TO ASSIST WITH THE RECOVERY OF Ki-43 . I HAD TO PAY MY OWN AIRFARES, ACCOMODATION AND ALIKE SO THERE WAS NO GOVERNMENT FREEBIES. WE HAD A GREAT WEEK UP THERE AND SOME IMPORTANT STUFF WAS SAVED.
Tell about your 'export permit' with the PNG Museum
I ACTUALLY STARTED NEGOTIATING IN 1984 FOR A PERMIT AND WAS NOT SUCCESFULL UNTILL 1998.
ANYBODY WISHING TO APPLY FOR AN EXPORT PERMIT FROM PNG OR ANYWHERE ELSE SHOULD FIRST CONTACT THE [PNG] NATIONAL MUSEUM. IN THE CASE OF PNG THE MODERN HISTORY SECTION OF THE NATIONAL MUSEUM WILL ISSUE A SET OF GUIDELINES FOR THE APPLICATION PROCEEDURE. ITS THE SAME SET OF RULES THAT I FOLLOW AND IT WILL NOT VARY FOR ANYONE ELSE.
Describe a bit about export permits
I COULD DISCUSS THIS ISSUE FOR 50 PAGES AND STILL WOULD NOT HAVE COVERED THE WHOLE SPECTRUM OF THE QUESTION YOU HAVE ASKED HERE.
LIKE I SAID, ANYBODY INTERESTED IN THIS SORT OF WORK SHOULD APPLY TO THE MUSEUM FOR A SET OF GUIDELINES. ITS THEN VERY MUCH ON A CASE BY CASE BASIS. MUSEUM OR INDIVIDUAL.
The PNG Museum's motto is 'Preserve and protect PNG's unique cultural, national & contemporary heritage' How does your work help this aim?
THIS REALLY IS A QUESTION OF POLICY FOR THE NATIONAL MUSEUM TO ANSWER.
What are the Museum's Salvage Guidelines?
IS QUITE LENGTHY, ONCE AGAIN I WOULD REFER YOU TO THE MUSEMS GUIDELINES
Many items from the PNG museum's collection were removed in late 2000-1 by yourself and '75 Squadron'
THE MUSEUM APPEARS TO HAVE A POLICY CHANGE IN THE 21ST CENTURY REGARDING WHAT CAN POSSIBLY BE REGARDED AS THE "OVER COLLECTION " OF WAR RELICS. APART FROM THE P47 PARTS ACQUIRED FOR OUR P47 PROJECT, WE WERE GIVEN THE TAIL OF [P-39F 41-38351] BY THE MUSEUM FOR OUR INHOUSE P-39 PROJECT.
THE REST OF THE MATERIAL WAS ACQUIRED BY 75TH SQUADRON IN MELBOURNE. YOU NEED TO TALK TO THE MUSEUM AND OR '75 SQUADRON'.
Mention some of your work in PNG 1990 to present
NONE THAT COME TO MIND.
WE ARE CURENTLY PLANNING A WEB BASED PRODUCT EITHER ATTACHED TO ANOTHER WEBSITE OR A STAND ALONE TO TELL THE WHOLE STORY. I BELIEVE PEOPLE WILL ENJOY IT.
OVER THE YEARS I HAVE WORKED WITH A GREAT NUMBER OF PEOPLE. TOO MANY TO RECOUNT. ITS BEEN A LOT OF FUN. OCCASSIONALY THERE HAS BEEN SOME HEARTACHE AS A RESULT OF A DISAGREEMENT HERE OR THERE BUT HEY THATS LIFE. THE IMPORTANT THING IS THAT HISTORY IS BEING SAVED ALL THE TIME AND THE STORY GETS TO BE TOLD THROUGH THE MACHINES.
What companies, groups, do you you work with?
IT ALL DEPENDS ON THE SPECFIC PROJECT AND ITS NEEDS. IF WE GET INVOLVED WITH OTHER GROUPS OR ORGANIZATIONS ITS FOR THE BEST OF THE PROJECT AND THE CONTINUING MESSAGE OF PRESERVING HISTORY. ITS A DIFFERENT STORY WITH EACH PROJECT.
A LOT OF THE WORK WE DO IS DETAILED IN THE CURRENT P-47 ARTICLE FEATURED IN Classic Wings Magazine. THE TONY RESTORATION WILL ALSO BE FEATURED IN A FORTHCOMING EDITION OF Classic Wings Magazine. A LOT OF THE SPECULATION AND MYTH PROMOTED BY PEOPLE SUCH AS YOURSELF WILL BE DEALT WITH.
Speak about your work with established museums
WHEN OUT IN THE FIELD ONE COMES ACROSS SOME INTERESTING MATERIAL FROM TIME TO TIME THAT WARRANTS CONSERVATION. ONE DOES WHAT ONE MUST DO, SAVE FOR THE FUTURE. ITS GREAT TO SEE KEARBYS FIN ON DISPLAY AT [USAF Museum at] DAYTON.
I DONATED A PILE OF [ P-47D "Frankie" 42-8130 ] AND P-40 STUFF [P-40K and P-40K] TO PIMA [ Air & Space Museum ] A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO BY WAY OF DONATION. ONCE AGAIN IT WAS GREAT TO SEE THE MATERIAL SAVED AND THE STORY OF THE 5TH AIR FORCE PRESERVED BACK IN AMERICA.
What projects are you involved and accountable with the PNG Museum? TWO AIRCRAFT, [P-38F Lightning 42-12647] AND [ Ki-61 Tony 640 ] ARE UNDER RESTORATION FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE PNG MUSEUM. THE RESTORATIONS ARE BEING CONDUCTED ON A FREE OF CHARGE BASIS WITH COMPLETION DATES. ARRANGEMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE FOR THEM TO BE RETURNED AT THE COMPLETION OF THE RESTORATION CYCLE UNLESS THE MUSEUM CHOOSES OTHERWISE.
RESTORATION IS BEING CONDUCTED TO THE HIGHEST MUSEUM STANDARDS WITH EXTREME EMPHASIS ON ORIGINALITY AND COMPLETENESS.
With sale prices of restored warbirds so high, and even projects expensive, what is the 'value' of wrecked aircraft?
I SUSPECT THERE IS MORE MYTH AND SPECULATION ABOUT THE ALLEDGED VALUE OF THESE WRECKS. CERTAINLY GIVEN THE HIGH COST OF RECOVERY IN PNG AND I FAIL TO SEE HOW ANYONE CAN MAKE A PROFIT.
AS I AM FINANCIALLY INDEPENDEDENT I DONT HAVE ANY NEED OR DESIRE TO PLAY THE COLLECTOR MARKET. OCCASSIONALLY I MAY BUY OR TRADE IN IT SO I CAN ACQUIRE WHAT IS NEEDED FOR THE VARIOUS RESTORATIONS. I TRADE PARTS GLOBALLY SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU CANT GET A LOT OF THE STUFF NEEDED FROM THE JUNGLE.
SURPLUS MATERIAL IS DONATED. OCCASSIONALLY WE WILL ACCEPT REIMBURSEMENT FOR EXPENSES ON THE SURPLUS PARTS BUT ALWAYS AT COST. WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO UNDERTAKE A PROFIT MAKING EXERCISE.
I RECENTLY COMPLETED A SURVEY FOR THE PNG MUSEUMS BOARD OF TRUSTEES ON A PARTICULAR AIRCRAFT AND DID THE NUMBERS ON THE SALVAGE COSTS.
WHEN ALL ADDED UP, THE COST OF RECOVERY EXCEEDED THE THEORETICAL "PROJECT VALUE" OF THE WRECK BY A WHOOPING $200,000 USD. SO WHAT WAS THE POINT?
SIMPLY THE PROPOSED RESTORERS LOVE OF HISTORY AND HIS DESIRE TO SEE IT SAVED
ITS TRUE VALUE IS IN THE HISTORY AND THE STORY IT WILL TELL FUTURE GENERATIONS. SO YES IT IS PRICELESS BUT AS FAR AS ITS ALLEDGED HIGH VALUE I WOULDNT KNOW.
You have salvaged a variety of aircraft from PNG that were displayed at airports and their museum. Why were tourist attractions taken?
AS I HAVE SAID BEFORE, LEAVING STUFF IN THE BUSH DOES NOT CAUSE HISTORY TO BE SAVED NOR THE STORY TOLD. AS REGARDS TOURISM AND IMPACT ON HISTORY, THATS AN ISSUE FOR GOVERNMENTS TO DECIDE.
THERE ARE SOME STRATEGIC RELICS SUCH AS [Ki-49 Hellen 3220] AT ALEXISHAFEN THAT SHOULD REMAIN WHERE THEY ARE. THE TOURISTS GO THERE, TAKE PHOTOS AND LEAVE HAVING HAD THEIR WAR RELIC EXPERIENCE. SIMILARLY THERE IS LITTLE POINT IN BRINGING UP UNDERWATER WRECKS UNLESS THEY ARE RARE ONE OFF'S.
WHEN I ACQUIRED [from Girua Airport, [P-47D 41-27608] IN 1998 THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT HAD ASKED THE LANDOWNERS TO REMOVE TO AIRCRAFT FROM THE AIRPORT DUE TO IT BEING IN THE WAY FOR A PROPOSED TERMINAL EXTENSION. IT HAD BEN ILLEGALLY REMOVED FROM THE TRADITIONAL LANDOWNERS PROPERTY IN THE EARLY 1970'S AND THEN ILLEGALLY ERRECTED AT THE AIRPORT (SO CALLED FOR TOURISM PURPOSES) EVENTUALLY THE LOCAL AUTHORITIES TOLD THE LANDOWNERS IN WRITING TO REMOVE THE CRAFT. ON MY FIRST VISIT TO POPPONDETTA I WAS APPROACHED BY THE LANDOWNERS WHO DID NOT HAVE THE RESOURCES TO MOVE IT AND WERE FEARFULL OF THE AIRCRAFT BEING SCRAPPED. THE B-25 STILL THERE REMAINS UNDER THREAT.
What challenges do wrecks salvaged from PNG present? And issues like if the wreck is an MIA Site
TO ANSWER THE FIRST PART OF THIS QUESTION REQUIRES A VERY LONG AND DETAILED ANSWER AND ONE MORE SUITED TO A MORE SPECIFIC FORUM. I WOULD REFER YOUR READERS TO Classic Wings Magazine WHICH HAS JUST DONE A EXCELLENT COVERAGE ON THE TRAILS AND TRIBULATIONS OF RESTORING A P-47. A NEW ISSUE FEATURING THE P47 REBUILD IS NOW OUT.
AS FOR MIA SITES I DONT GO NEAR THEM UNLESS THEY HAVE BEEN CLEARED BY THE NATIONAL MUSEUM.
What is wreckage used for when exported?
How much of salvaged aircraft can actually be used?
I ONLY RECOVER FOR MY OWN RESTORATION WORK AND PASS ON SURPLUS MATERIAL. RECOVERYS ARE CONDUCTED THOUGHTFULLY AND BASED ON A GENUINE NEED BASIS, NOT ONE OF COMMERCIAL EXPLOITATION.
AS PER PREVIOUS QUESTION, I WOULD SUGGEST YOUR READERSHIP SEEK OUT MORE SPECIFIC PUBLICATIONS WHERE THESES SORTS OF QUESTIONS ARE DEALT WITH IN DETAIL.
You have completed projects related to aircraft, but none with PNG aircraft yet.
I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN THE COMPLETION OF MANY MUSEUM PROJECTS AND UNDERTAKEN THE RECOVERY OF AIRCRAFT FROM MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD INCLUDING RUSSIA. THE QUICKEST RECOVERY WAS THE RUSSIAN MIG-15 NOW IN CANBERRA.
SOME RESTORATIONS ARE SLOW TO START BECAUSE PARTS ARE NOT THERE OR INCOMPLETE.
GIVEN THE LEVEL OF DETAIL WE GO TO IN ENSURING THE RESTORATION IS CORRECT FROM AN ENGINEERING POINT AND AUTHENTICITY POINT OF VIEW IT IS NOT SUPRISING THAT START UPS APPEAR SLOW.
THERE IS AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF WORK GOING ON IN ANY RESTORATION INVOLVING A HUGE CREW OF PEOPLE. WE FORWARD PLAN UP TO FIVE YEARS IN ADVANCE.
THE ENGINEERING INVOLVED IN SOME CASES IS QUITE MIND NUMBING, CURRENTLY WE ARE INVOLVED IN THE MANUFACTURE OF NEW CENTRE SECTION SPARS FOR THE PNG MUSEUMS P38. HASNT BEEN DONE BEFORE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. THESE THINGS TAKE TIME.
IT TAKES ABOUT TEN YEARS TO CONDUCT A RESTORATION PROPERLY. WE HAVENT BEEN INTO SOME OF THE RESTORATIONS THAT LONG
THERE IS ALSO A CERTAIN ELEMENT OF URGENCY AS WRECKS ARE DISSAPEARING AT A FAIRLY RAPID RATE DUE TO MOTHER NATURE AND MAN. MAN IS THE BIGGEST WORRY. MANY LANDOWNERS HAPPILY SCRAP THE WRECKS IN EXCHANGE FOR A FEW KINA.
AS YOU HAVE NO EXPERIENCE IN THE RESTOIRATION BUSINESS I WOULD SUGGEST YOU GET YOURSELF INVOLVED IN A "DOWN TO THE LAST RIVET RESTORATION" FIND OUT WHAT IS INVOLVED WE WILL TALK AGAIN IN FIVE YEARS.
Is there anything left in PNG still worth salvaging? You have salvaged the best P-40, P-47 and P-38.
THERE ARE STILL 800 WRECKS OUT THERE IN PNG ALONE AND A LOT OF THE GOOD ONES HAVE BEEN LEFT DUE TO TOURISM OR MIA ISSUES.
YOUR STATEMENT IS A BIT SENSATIONALIST AND REFLECTS YOUR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE ON THE SUBJECT. A VERY SELECT SAMPLE FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES IS MORE LIKE WHAT I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN. THE BEST OF EVERYTHING LEFT BEFORE 1975.
I HAVE BEEN CREDITED ERRONOUSLY FOR DOING A LOT OF THINGS I DIDNT DO. AND PUBLICATIONS SUCH AS PWD OFTEN GET IT WRONG AND ARE RELUCTANT TO CHANGE THEIR REPORTINGS WHEN THE ERRORS ARE EXPOSED.
Is salvage a thing of the past? Or, is it always cheaper to recover a 'real' wreck than to make new ones? Or are 'real identities' the attraction?
I REALLY DONT KNOW THE ANSWER TO THIS. I RECOVER IN ORDER THAT HISTORY CAN BE SAVED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. HOW OTHERS SEE IT IS THEIR BUSINESS. I PREFER TO HAVE THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF ORIGINAL MATERIAL IN THE REBUILD AS POSSIBLE AND I GO TO EXTRAORDINARY LENGTHS TO SEE THAT IS ACHIEVED.
SOMETIMES I WILL SPEND MORE TO GET THE ORIGINAL THAN I COULD HAVE MAKING IT FROM SCRATCH IN THE WORKSHOP. ORIGINALITY AND AUTHENTICITY ARE VERY IMPORTANT FEATURES OF MY WORK.
What do you feel should be done with remaining relics of war? What place do salvage & tourism serve?
I BELIEVE IT WAS CHARLES DARBY WHO SUCCINTLY PUT IT THAT "ALL WRECKS" SHOULD BE SAVED WHERE POSSIBLE FOR POSTERITY.
OBVIOUSLY THAT CANT BE ACHIEVED FOR ALL WRECKS AS THERE WOULD NO WHERE TO PUT ALL THE DC3'S FOR EXAMPLE.
YOU TRY AND SAVE WHAT CAN BE SAVED FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS. THE MEMORY OF OUR FATHERS IS NOT SERVED WELL BY A PILE OF CUT SCRAP THAT HAS BEEN DRAGGED IN FROM THE BUSH AND SMELTED IN THE LOCAL SCRAPYARD.
AS FOR TOURISM, IT HAS ITS PLACE, WHEN ON HOLIDAYS I LIKE TO LOOK AT WRECKS BUT WHEN THERES 800 OF THEM TO LOOK AT YOU HAVE TO WONDER. ONCE AGAIN THESE ARE ISSUES FOR GOVERNMENT TO DECIDE
I THINK THAT ANY INTELLIGENT THINKING PERSON WOULD SEE THE LOGIC OF A EVEN WELL BALANCED APPROACH WHICH IS PRETTY MUCH WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO DATE.
THERE ARE SOME GENUINE CONCERNS BROUGHT ABOUT BY A COMMERCIAL SALVAGE OPERATION OPERATING OUT OF AUSTRALIA.
THESE GUYS RECENTLY CONDUCTED A SURVEY OF LILLY AND HELEN BOMBERS ON THE PNG NORTH COAST FOR POTENTIAL SALVAGE TO ORDER FOR AN AMERICAN COLLECTOR(S).
THIS I CONSIDER ALARMING AND A THREAT TO HERITAGE AND TOURISM.
What are your feelings about the 'Swamp Ghost'?
IS IT REALLY THE GREATEST WW2 WRECK LEFT? THIS IS YOUR PERSONEL OPINION, NOT A STATEMENT OF FACT PROVEN BY HISTORY OR OTHER. I CAN THINK OF HALF A DOZEN OTHERS OF MORE SIGNIFICANCE. THE DEVESTATORS [TBD 0298 and TBD 1515] IN THE MARSHAL LAGOONS FOR EXAMPLE.
WETHER THE WRECK COMES OUT OR NOT IS A GOVERNMENT DETERMINATION. TO DATE THE PNG STATE HAS DETERMINED IT SHOULD COME OUT AND BE SAVED. [in late April, early May 2006 B-17E 41-2446 aka 'Swamp Ghost' was salvaged. Greinert was responsible for having its salvage permit re-issued, a permit that was deemed illegal by the PAC.]
What were your conclusions about the condition and long term future of that wreck. What do you say to those worldwide who would like to visit this wreck, and see it remain there the way the war left it?
THE [previous] MUSEUMS BOARD ASKED MY OPINION AND I CAN TELL YOU IT WAS CONSISTENT WITH THE THEME OF THIS INTERVIEW. LIKE I SAID BEFORE, THESE ARE MATTERS FOR GOVERNMENT. I KNOW OF NO OTHER EXPERTS GIVING EXPERT OPINION. IN REFLECTION, I THINK THAT ITS BEST TO CONSIDER SALVAGE, IN ORDER TO SAVE THE AEROPLANE FROM THE ENTHUSIASTS.
Anything else you would like to add about yourself?
NOT REALLY. PLANS ARE A FOOT AND THEY WILL BECOME PUBLIC KNOWLEDGE SOON ENOUGH [in late April, early May 2006 B-17E 41-2446 aka 'Swamp Ghost' was salvaged. Greinert was responsible for having its salvage permit re-issued].
The last twenty five years have seen a wide variety of recovery and restoration work undertaken by myself and as a rule I do not promote it because as I have discovered, the internet is now a haven for those that have their own agenda and seek to criticize what I view as good works.
Many websites are hungry for content and if you don’t “feed” them, they run off to secondary sources for there information. Invariably those sources don’t have a clue as to what’s going on or how its actually happening but they still go out of their way to promote false facts. I have to live with it but I don’t have to cooperate.
Robert Greinert with P-47
removed from Girua Airport
at Popondetta, PNG
"passionate about aviation
history and its preservation"
Anson Nose Section
HARS Hanger 2003
HARS Hanger 2006
C-121C Serial 54-0157 was 'relegation to storage at Davis Monthan Air Base'. It was not recovered, rather restored in Arizona & flew itself to Australia and is registered as VH-EAG.
Pacific Wrecks has been in contact with Greinert since 2000, and emailed him questions and clarification related to all wrecks he is involved with, and he has reviewed information related to his activities. Any corrections are verified and updated
Greinert has reviewed, commented and corrected every airframe he is involved with on Pacific Wrecks
Greinert's first salvage was 1989. Justin Taylan took his first trip to PNG in 1993.
True, some wrecks were scraped. But the larger majority of wrecks have been stripped by visitors, not local people (instruments, guns, etc). If these wrecks are indeed worthless, why are they being salvaged? When salvaged, they are not always for historical value, often as 'parts' for larger restorations to be bought, sold & traded and only used as patterns or to copy.
Planes of Fame did not salvage any Pacific Wreck. Its G4M1 1280 was funded by another museum, which tried to sell it but found no buyers and was later donated to Plane of Fame. The only wreck known to be salvaged by USAF Museum is a O-38F. The Naval Aviation Museum's salvaged aircraft from Great Lakes are a mix of recoveries and illegal salvage seizures.
The captured Japanese and German aircraft at Air & Space were War Prizes, not aircraft salvaged from battlefields after the war.
War relics with remains aboard are consider 'war graves' by the United States, Japan and Australia a very different classification all three countries make efforts to recover remains only from these sites
Trucking to Sydney
Salvaged undertaken by Greinert in PNG have been under the basis of work (not yet completed) for their museum. Yet, items recovered have been traded, donated and sold to other organizations, or other items not part of promised projects salvaged for others, who do not have their own permits in that country.
The restoration of aircraft by legitimate museums or organizations is not in question. Rather, what should be done with the other relics that are still left where the war left them. It is impossible to recover everything. The debate is over what to do with those relics (leave them in situ, protect them, salvage them)
PNG's population is not starving or lacing 'basics of life', (Americans do not have universal health care / meds!) Rather, they are lacking the 'luxuries of life
P-40F Wing set in 1979
Ki-43 Oscar 5465
PNG Museum allows only for museum to museum basis, are granted in exchange for work done 1:1 related to projects. How relics are owned by the state, but also how local compensation and tourism supersede removal
What in-house HARS
P-39 project? Rather, P-39s are being restored by Precision Aerospace
Greinert Aircraft List
export or removal
Kearby's P-47 Tail
Ki-61 Tony 640
According to PIMA, P-47D was 'sold' to them, and two P-40Ks were 'donated' in the same transaction with Greinert
What is the completion date or timeline for this project? With no work done to date on P-38 project
Ki-49 at Alexishafen
P-47D formally at Girua
The B-25 is not under threat of scrapping. It has been displayed there since the 1970s, with the P-47 until 1998. The terminal extension did not impact either aircraft or known landowner issues according to Oro Tourism board. Rather, locals remember the P-47 disappearing.
Since 2000, Pacific Wrecks has emailed Greinert questions and clarification related to all wrecks he is involved with. He has reviewed information related to his activities. Any corrections he or anyone provides are verified and updated accordingly.
for Alfred Hagen
all regions of the Pacific
Greinert himself has promoted 'false facts' specifically, on WRG Discussion Board (WIX) under his alias 'Jungle Bob' or writing letters to PNG Museum with allegations about others.