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Search Chronology Locations Aircraft Vessels Missing In Action (MIA)

Max Ammer
Diving & Wrecks in Irian Jaya

Click For EnlargementIrianDiving.com  We have been doing some pioneering around Amsterdam and Middelburg (islands in the central Birds-head area). Our main purpose was to visit the largest Leatherback turtles nesting beach in Asia, which is situated there, but we did also do some pioneering for wrecks. We were reported about 6 supposed aircraft locations and 3 ship locations. Although this, we where not very successful due to time limitations and poor visibility at the time of our search.

We only spend about 1 1/2 days searching, looking at 3 reported locations. At one location we did not go into the water because the aircraft was said to be laying on a reef flat and should normally be seeable from the boat. Because poor visibility reduced the change of locating it we went to another location on the same reef (Middelburg reef). There Otto (our No. 1 dive guide) and I have been snorkeling along side the boat however also failed to see the reported aircraft. We believe also due to poor visibility. The third location was said to have 2 landing craft and one ship. We again went snorkeling along side the boat and I after some time located one landing craft.

Because of sinus problems I did not do the actual dive and learned afterwards from the divers that they believed to have spotted and aircraft under?!?! one of the landing craft. Naturally I had to check this out and forced myself down. At 18.7m under a LCPR was indeed the wreck of a P-38 Lightning. The LCPR (large box type craft with nose door) had to be dived into to reach the cockpit section of the P 38. The nose of the P 38 was again under the engine compartment of the LCPR. The aircraft was quite damaged (not in the least because the LCPR landing on top of this wreck). Still it was a quite interesting dive.

Maybe you can do some research on the two islands? Middelburg had a fighter strip while the nearby mainland had 3 strips around a place called Mar (in some reports the reference is made to Sansapor which is in fact 20 km west from Mar). I am quite sure the 12 x P 47D at Wai (Djerief island) have taken of from one of these strips. (I think you know about this from Bas).

We also spend some time on the mainland (Mar). Here I was able to get hold of a WWI fighting knife. It is a very nasty one having a brass handle in the form of a boxing ring. It is marked model (U.S. 1918, L.F&C-1918). It was the second of such knives I got from that same area. Most probably the knife was used by a veteran of the WWI or given by such a veteran to his son to take to the Pacific campaign. Also I was again offered the usual dog tags, Coca Cola bottles, and heaps of ammunition. I hear a unconfirmed story of 4 oil drums that were said to have been recently been dug out of the ground which I would not mind getting hold of. There drums has letters stamped in them (USN, USAAF) and sometimes are completely galvanized. Also the lids are nice. Aluminum, EverSure with patent numbers and such. The area still had thousands of PSP plates from the former airstrips.

I am now looking for someone who is willing to assist me in checking out files (missing aircraft reports) so I can better locate and identify the aircraft in this area. I am living in Sorong, Papua and therefore very isolated. In return for this information I am offering free diving on these wrecks and or artifacts from wrecks.

Wai
We located 3 x P-47D Thunderbolts, however there are probably 10 more aircraft still to be located on the reefs surrounding this island.

Rouw
These are 4 x P-38 Lightnings, three in a row on sand reef flat max. 2-3 m. deep and one 12 m. deep on a coral slope. We dived them in about 1994.

Sorong
Doom is where we park our boats. On the North side! I can easily search for this wreck if you like. I only would like to have some more info before I start searching. There are by the way 3 more reported complete (closed canopy) aircraft in the near area.

Morotai
Has intact Catalina at 20m on West side about 2 km out and a graveyard of Bristol Baufighters on the South side next to the reef at 40 - 65m (I located this in 1990).

Fam Islands
I am not sure if you mentioned Fam islands. On the East side we recently located on Zero. The local government interfered with this wreck just a few months earlier lifting the engine after witch the local newspaper reported the find to be a P-40. Japanese characters and radial engine.

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Last Updated
May 22, 2017

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