IrianDiving.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
We located 3 x P-47D Thunderbolts, however there are
probably 10 more aircraft still to be located on the reefs surrounding
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.
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.
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).
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.
Do you have photos or additional information to add?