Wet Wings

In 1999 I was lucky enough to dive my first airplane wreck underwater. Luckily, it was one of the most fascinating airplanes of the Second World War, a 4-engines B17 flying fortress, which is extremely well preserved. This dive and in particular the beautiful wreck, hooked me for many year to come to the worldwide exploration of underwater aviation.In the following 20 odd years, i was lucky to dive and explore hundreds os wrecks with a few of them being airplane wrecks.

As time progressed, I started to develop a special interest and a growing passion to photographing and documenting these delicate wrecks underwater in warm, cold, dark or extremely challenging locations around the globe. The stories of these wrecks are not always well known. Some are still a mystery. Others tell the stories of heroic air combats or defence of populations or armies in dark days of wars.

Whether the cause of the crash is an accident or shooting, diving on these silent beasts, keeps your imagination at the limit. The respect and admiration to the brave pilots cannot be described in simple words. Enjoy the my growing collection of aircraft wrecks and please get in touch if you want more information.

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Airplane Wrecks From
Around the World

Arado AR196, Heraklia Island, near Naxos Island, Greece

Location: Heraklia Island, near Naxos island, Greece

History: On September 17, 1943 this specific Arado 196 went on a mission to protect a convoy consisting of three ships (UJ 2104, Paula and Pluto) on their way from Piraeus to Rhodes.

Near Naxos, British Beaufighters attacked the convoy and the Arado was damaged and had to perform a controlled ditching at sea.
The crew was reported as “rescued”.
The convoy continued on its way to Rodos, but north of Astypalaia, they were attacked again, this time by allied destroyers.
The two cargo ships sunk, and UJ 2104 was badly damaged.
Approximately 60 survivors, including the crew of the Arado, managed to reach Astypalaia, which was under Italian control.
The survivors of the convoy were transferred to the British shortly after and remained POW until 1948.
 The wreck was found by Greek fishermen in 1982 at a depth of 91m and was moved in a bay of the island Herakleia.
Acclaimed researcher Manolis Bardanis (www.naxosdiving.com) is credited with a detailed research on this wreck’s history, in cooperation with other historians.

Diving: Diving this 11m deep wreck, located a few nautical miles off the island of Naxos, is fairly easy. The best time to access this wreck is the summer time, with an average water temperature of 22C making this dive long and pleasant.

Best diving arrangements: www.bluefindivers.gr 

B17 The flying fortress, Corsica, France

Location: Calvi Citadelle, Calvi, Corsica, France

History: The wreck of the B17 plane is one of the legendary wrecks along the Corsican shores.

‘The Flying Fortress’, this 32m wingspan over 22m length American Bomber had 4 engines and 13 machine-guns; it could cover up to 3200 km on a single trip. This very one, skippered by Lieutenant Charplik, is one of 4750 lost during WWII…

On the 14th of February 1944, it takes off with 10 men aboard en route to bomb out the railway system in Verona, Italy; a squadron of German Messerschmitt 109 planes engages combat on the way.

Seriously damaged by the fight, it lost 3 machine guns and changed its course for Calvi, with only 2 engines running. Eventually it is forced to a sea-landing and only 6 members of crew are rescued.

Diving: Today the wreck rests 27 meters down, on a sandy bottom, at the foot of the old city of Calvi. As you descend onto the plane, a clear picture of its massive size emerges: it lies flat with the two wings and the 4 engines still attached, in good conditions. The tail has disappeared, providing a way to look at the inside of the cabin, along with the cockpit, still intact with the instruments and the pilot seats! Check out the engines, though a few parts and blades have been removed by metal scrappers, or just damaged and lost on impact…

Lots of marine life can be found all around the wreck, with colourful sponges, congressman eels, Grouper wrasses , parrot fish, octopuses and more.

Best diving arrangements: Any dive centre in Calvi.

Beechcraft King Air, Greece

Location: Palaia Fokaia, Greece

History: 24 July 1985, afternoon hours … The Beechcraft King Air A90 RU-21A aircraft made a forced landing off the gulf of Anavyssos. The aircraft belonged to the US Army and was flying in formation with three other aircraft when it suffered mechanical damage.

It had left Germany, with a final destination in Israel, via Aviano (Italy) and Elliniko (Greece). It was equipped with anti-submarine warfare and tracking technology.

Its crew consisted of three members and consisted of the captain, the co-pilot and a radio operator.

The passengers were rescued from the nearby E / G Naia ship that sailed close to the Fleves Islands. The occupants got off the plane and remained on its fuselage, while it was sinking.

The shipwrecks were collected by a rescue boat of E / G Naia. They did not provide information, while one was carrying a suitcase in handcuffs.

Upon arrival at the port of Piraeus, staff from the US Embassy received them immediately. Investigations were immediately launched to locate the sunken plane and to retrieve its equipment and parts. Since then the event has been declassified.

Until the aircraft was accidentally discovered in the bay of Anavyssos and at a relatively close distance from the coast. It is alleged that the trawlers carried it with their nets to the place where it is now.

Diving:  The location of the sunken aircraft is difficult to find by someone who does not know exactly the morphology of the bottom.It lies upside down, slightly resting on a piece of dry land. Its tail is missing and has not been found. One of its engines is located 50 meters to the open, while the fate of the other is ignored. The debris is scattered around, within a radius of at least 50 meters, maybe even more.

Best diving arrangements: www.scubalife.gr

Bristol Beaufighter, Malta

Location: Approx. 900 m offshore St. Julian’s Point in Sliema, Malta.

History: Bristol Beaufighter was built by Bristol Aeroplane Company and it served in Royal Air Force.

The plane was a twin-engine two-seat heavy fighter, about 12.6 m in length with 17.6 m wingspan.

On 17th March 1943 soon after takeoff, this Beaufighter experienced mechanical problems, and the crew had to ditch the plane in the sea. Both the pilot and the observer survived.

Diving: This is a boat dive for experienced divers. The airplane wreck lies upside down at a depth of 38 m on sandy seabed. Most of the plane is buried in the sand, the wings and the main fuselage are quite intact, both undercarriage frames with shredded tyres stick out behind the radial engines, and port side propeller still attached to the engine.

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Bristol Beaufighter, Greece

Location: Off Naxos Island (near Paros Island), Greece 

History: This beautiful WWII Bristol Beaufighter airplane was shot down in 1943 after bombing the German airport in Paros. Both crew members have managed to survive and with the help of the local resistance who contacted the British forces, they were able to arrange a submarine to take them back to their base in Cyprus. The wreck was found back in 2007 after many search dives on the sandy bottom at 34 meters.

The “whispering death”, as it was called by the Japanese because of the sound of its engines, the Beaufighter was a multi-role aircraft, which played an important role during WWII, in almost all theatres of fighting.

A piece of the rudder over the tail fins is missing, and some bullet holes in the side of the aircraft suffered by anti-aircraft fire vividly demonstrate what caused the twin engined aircraft to ditch at sea.

The cone at the airplane’s nose, made of thin metal, has eroded and is now close to the aircraft.

It consisted of  New Zealander W. E. Hayter (RAF 47th squadron) and T. J. Harper (603 RAF squadron).

Diving: A simple deep dive with mild occasional currents and very god visibility. 

Best diving arrangements: www.bluefindivers.gr

Bristol Bleinham, Malta

Location: Located about 500 m off Xrobb l-Ghagin on the east coast of Malta.

History: Blenheim was built by Bristol Aeroplane Company and served in British Royal Air Force. The plane was a twin-engine light bomber aircraft that typically carried a crew of three, about 13 m in length with 17.2 m wingspan.

On 13th December 1941 on a mission to Kefalonia in Greece, this Blenheim bomber was attacked en route by an Italian enemy aircraft damaging its port engine.

The Blenheim turned back to Malta where the pilot had to ditch the plane in the sea. The crew survived with minor injuries.

Diving: This is a deep boat dive for experienced divers with sometimes strong currents. The airplane wreck lies upright at a depth of 42 m on a seabed of sand and small reefs.

The bomber’s wings and radial engines are mostly intact; starboard engine still has a bent propeller but port engine propeller is missing. The cockpit cover is also missing, and the rear fuselage has broken off and lies a few metres away, in front of the main plane wreckage, upside down and mostly buried in sand. Originally there was a pilot’s seat too but it has been taken away.

Best diving arrangements: www.divemed.com

Candair, Corsica, France

Location: Sagone Gulf, Corsica, France

History: September 12, 1971, After dropping a first cargo of water on the flames, the Canadair flew over the bay to fill its tanks. While the pilot concentrated on the delicate operation, the co-pilot activated the mechanism allowing the filling of the tanks. Suddenly the aircraft brakes sharply, nosing through the water, tail up in the air. Surprised but unharmed, the two pilots managed to jump into the water, only to be rescued by a passing boat. The aircraft remained in this floating position on the surface for a long time, giving the Saint-Appien Maritime Gendarmerie time to arrive to the scene and to note the presence of a long tear on the waterproof hull. The canadair then sank and landed upside down by 30m of depth.

Diving: Diving on this wreck is fairly easy, but requires a boat from one of the dive centres in the area and the state permission. Summer time is the most predictable sea conditions as this wreck is situated mid-sea.

Best diving arrangements: nautical-loisir.com

Cobra Helicopter, Aqaba, Jordan

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Grunmman Corsair, Big Island, Hawaii

Location: The Corsair airplane wreck of O’ahu is located approximately 3 miles out from the Hawaii Kai marina which is on O’ahu’s south-east side

History: During a routine mission in 1948 this iconic WWII aircraft started to sputter. As the engine began to fail, the seasoned pilot managed to make a smooth water landing, wheels up, flaps slightly extended. The pilot was rescued bobbing nearby in his lifejacket, the plane wasn’t even damaged.

Even though the aircraft was intact, it wasn’t buoyant and despite the soft landing, it still ended up at the bottom of the ocean. 

Diving: The dive site is considered advanced, and boats and a guide are required. The wreck lies at about 115 feet in an area known for unpredictably strong and swift currents. Divers must descend using the anchor line and swim about 30 feet to the wreck. The depth of the site produces a short bottom time of about 15 minutes, so divers should monitor their air gauges closely. Along with the garden eels, jacks and stingrays frequent the site.

The Corsair plane wreck sits in 115 feet of blue Pacific Hawaiian waters in an upright position facing south west with the tail of the airplane pointing towards Koko Head. Getting out to the Corsair plane wreck takes about 15 minutes or so.

Best diving arrangements:  https://www.oahudiving.com/corsair.htm

Dornier Do24, Kritiansand, Norway

Location: Outside Kjevik airport, Kritiansand

History: This rare German Dornier DO 24 sea plane was sunk by a Mosquito airplane from RAF Banff trike Wing based in Scotland on the 22.April 1945 while she laid at anchor. It is believed the airplane belonged to the German Luftwaffes Seenotstaffel 51, but positive identification has not been successful as yet. 

Diving: The wreck can be reached by land by driving past on the outside of Kjevik airport, taking the  small road leading down to the sea and the old pier. The wreck can be easily found  as marked by a buoy and a line guides you from the pier to the first wing.  The wreck has severely deteriorated over the years, and the cockpit and other remains rest approx 50 meter outside the old pier on a depth of 25 to 35 meter in variant visibility depending on the season and sea conditions. 

Best diving arrangements: Real Divers-Norwegian Scuba Diving Centre Kristiansand

Dornier Do26, Narvik, Norway

Location: Outside the city of Narvik, Norway 

History:The remains of a German Dornier 26 Seeadler airplane rest in shallow waters. The airplane was found in 1991 and believed to be that the plane was one of two Dornier 26’s that supplied the German forces in May 1940 under the battles of Narvik. 

Three British Hurricane fighters from RAF squadron 46 spotted the enemy planes on the 28 of May right after they had landed, and quickly sunk them both in Sildvika. 

The remains of the Seeadler rest today in Rombaksbotn outside Narvik on a depth of approx 15 to 25 meter.

Diving: The dive site can be reached by a short boat ride from the shore. The dive site does not have strong currents and the visibility at the time of this dive was 20m plus…  

Best diving arrangements: Self arranged. 

Fiat BR20 Cicogna ,Italy

Location: St. Stefano al mare, Liguria, Italy 

History:  The Fiat BR20 Cicogna was a modern double-engine all-metal Italian bomber that took part in the first actions of the World War II. This airplane sunk near St. Stefano after a bomb attack on Toulon in June 1940. Only three men of the crew survived. The airplane is in fine conditions, the engines with the propellers and the machine guns are still in their position, and the cockpit is wide opened. It lies on a flat, detrital bottom at a depth of 47 metres. The environment is colonised by rich and colourful populations of soft corals and hundreds of fish. This is probably the last existing BR 20: it’s a good reason to respect this noble wreck.

Best diving arrangements: http://www.nautilustdc.com/index.php

Focke Wulf FW200 C4 Condor, Norway

Location: Lavangen fjord, east of Harstad, Norway

History: En route from Banak to Trondheim, while cruising north of Narvik, the four engine German WWII aircraft went out of control and crashed into the Lavangen fjord, east of Harstad. 

All 51 occupants were killed, among them 41 Luftwaffe Helferinen (female military assistants). 

The loss of control was caused by a structural failure of the tail that broke off in flight, causing the aircraft to enter a spin and crashing into the fjord. 

It appears the aircraft was heavily loaded at the time of the accident.

Diving: The dive site is accessible from the shore, although it is unmarked and requires direction or guidance from someone who’s familiar with it. The site is usually calm and without any string currents, although that could change depending on the seasons. 

The wreck is heavily broken and scattered around a large perimeter.  

Best diving arrangements: Self-arranged. 

Hawker Siddley SH-748, Vobster, UK

Location: Vobster quarry, UK History: 

The Hawker Siddley HS-748 aircraft was donated by the Exeter Airport, and is split into three separate segments laid next to each other; the cockpit, midsection, and tail. The different sections of the airplane are found at the depth of 12 meters.  

Diving: Much of the cabling on this commercial plane has been removed for safety, however, there is still a large amount of protruding metal and sharp corners particularly if your planning on penetrating the wreck. 

The wreck is very special and in shallow waters, can be dived for a nice long decompression while visiting the deeper wrecks of the quarry. 

Even if your not a fan of plane wrecks, the cockpit of the plane is a sight well worth taking in. The buttons, knobs, and levers found where the pilot seats use to be are a surreal underwater spectacle. 

Best diving arrangements: https://www.vobster.com

Heinkel He 111 Corsica France

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Hellcat France

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Hercules Jordan

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Junker 52 Norway

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Junker 88 France

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Messerschmitt BF 109 Crete Greece

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Messerschmitt BF 109 France

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Neptune Lockhid Malta

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P38 La Ciotat, France

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P47 Thunderbolt Corsica France

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P51 Mustang France

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Partenavia P68B _Victor_ Stoney Cove UK

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Westland WS-61 Sea King helicopter, Vobster quarry, UK

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Savoia Merchetti SM79

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Stuka Ju87 Croatia

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Tristar Jordan

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Viscount Vickers, Stoney Cove, UK

Location: Stoney Cove quarry, UK

History: The cockpit was placed in Stoney Cove around 1967as part of a joint rescue services training exercise and is now crewed by some of the larger fish – pike and perch can often be seen keeping watch on the flight deck.

Diving: The Viscount cockpit rests on the top of the roadway that leads down to the deeper parts of Stoney Cove. it’s a good place to start if you are interested in wreck exploration. 

Best diving arrangements: https://www.stoneycove.com

Wessex Helicopter Stoney Cove UK

Location: Stoney Cove, UK 

History: The wessex had only flown for 650 hours before it was submerged in Stoney Cove. it was in immaculate condition. the rotor blades were removed before it was submerged, but originally most of the helicopter was intact.  

 

Unfortunately, visiting divers have collected many ‘souvenirs’ from the wreck, so it’s a shadow of its former self but it remains an excellent wreck to visit, particularly as an introduction to deeper diving.

Diving: The wreck is sitting in 22 metres of water, close to the northern cliff face.

Best diving arrangements: https://www.stoneycove.com/index.html

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Wildcat, France

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