WW2 aircraft wreckage found on Great Barrier Reef

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WW2 aircraft wreckage found on Great Barrier Reef

October 03, 2015 - 17:28
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Video released by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) shows a newly found Second World War aircraft under the water in Australia. The plane is a Catalina A24-25 flying boat from RAAF Number 11 Squadron which went missing on 28 February 1943.

On 28 February 1943, the crew of the Catalina sent out a radio statement saying they needed to make an emergency landing. The aircraft crashed during the attempted landing and the 11 personnel on board were killed.

The wreckage was first discovered 56km south of Cairns in 35m of water by Cairns diver Kevin Coombs in 2013, but weather and planning challenges delayed the final dives to complete the investigation.

The A24-25 was part of a task force flying long‑range missions against Japanese shipping and submarines during World War Two. On 28 February 1943, Catalina A24-25 and its 11 aircrew were on a 17-hour mission to provide anti-submarine cover to a convoy heading for Milne Bay in Papua New Guinea.

The Court of Inquiry recorded the plane crashed at sea while attempting to land after running out of fuel. There were no witnesses and no sightings of wreckage or crew during subsequent searches.

"The discovery of this Number 11 Squadron Catalina is important for the Air Force and our ongoing commitment to account for our missing personnel from past conflicts; currently 3124 from the Second World War and 18 from Korea," Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies said.

War grave

The RAAF will leave the aircraft where it was found as a mark of respect to the crew and will be protected by a Maritime Cultural Heritage Special Management Area designation. A memorial service will be held by the RAAF in Cairns early next year and commemorative plaque will be placed to honour the crew.

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