University of Delaware help find WW2 plane wrecks

University of Delaware help find WW2 plane wrecks

Oceanographers at the University of Delaware revealed that they have located two lost World War II planes, using underwater robots, near Palau.

(Unrelated filephoto). A Grumman TBF Avenger is one of the planes that BentProp has located.

During bloody battles in 1944 between American and Japanese almost two dozen aircraft had fallen into waters around Palau, leaving around 70 airmen missing in action.

The Japanese wanted to use the islands for battle preparation and refuelling grounds — and so did the Allies. Numerous aircraft were lost in the waters of Palau, submerged for decades with little closure for the families of fallen airmen.

Seventy years later, a team of oceanographers discovered two of these warplanes last spring using autonomous underwater vehicles. The discovery of the two aircraft earlier this spring could lead to the recovery of many of the airmen who went missing in action.

The University of Delaware’s Mark Moline, one of the scientists who led the expedition, learned that his grandfather had been on the USS Princeton, one of the aircraft carriers that attacked Palau in March 1944. Together with Eric Terrill, a colleague at Scripps Institution of Oceanography began working with the non-profit BentProp Project in 2013 to apply underwater robotics technologies in search of lost U.S. airmen.