Aviation Archaeology: WW2 aircraft wrecks on your computer screen via Google Earth

Interviews, WW2

By Pierre Kosmidis

Research by @clapos 

Download the collection of crashed world war 2 aircraft, which @clapos compiled. Some of the locations should be known, but  there are a few that have not yet been shared.

 

Looking for aircraft lost during World World 2 is often associated with digging in muddy fields, scuba diving in remote locations, researching dusty archives and looking for recollections of eyewitnesses.

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The advancement of technology though and the satellite imagery available to anyone with a decent internet access is now allowing people to explore aircraft crash sites and forgotten WW2 wrecks from their sofa or desk.

A Ju-88 wreck in Norway Photo Credit: http://bjornoya.blogspot.gr/2010/10/junkers-ju88a-4.html?m=1
A Ju-88 wreck in Norway    Photo Credit: http://bjornoya.blogspot.gr/2010/10/junkers-ju88a-4.html?m=1

Coordinates, research and a computer are all an… armchair researcher needs to locate long lost and in some cases forgotten WW2 aircraft wrecks.

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Screenshot from ktsorens-tihlde.org All photos owned by ktsorens-tihlde.org

Make no mistake, desktop researchers are doing a great job locating those WW2 aircraft wrecks and sharing their knowledge with aviation enthusiasts all over the world.

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A researcher, @clapos (his internet forum and twitter alias, as he has asked www.ww2wrecks.com not to reveal his real name), has done a thorough research and located on Google Earth the exact locations of dozens of WW2 aircraft wrecks all over the Globe, both Allied, as well as Axis ones.

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A He-111 on the borders of Sweden with Norway Sweden PHOTO CREDIT: http://www.azote.se/image/motor/motor/19154/38

We have asked @clapos to reveal the “secrets” of his methodology and here is what he had to say:

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Screenshot from ktsorens-tihlde.org All photos owned by ktsorens-tihlde.org

“I used different methods to find these wrecks. I managed to find some of these wrecks (the A6M and all wrecks on the American continent) via Google Earth forums, so I didn’t really find these by myself.

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But for other wrecks, especially the German ones, I searched for information on various websites, because they contain information about hundreds of WW2 aircraft wrecks.

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With the initial details found I tried to locate those wrecks directly or to research for more information. It only worked on half of the wrecks, so a lot are waiting to be found on google earth, but on some wrecks it worked.

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And this is what I’ve done, I looked through internet sources and simply searched through satellite images. That’s it. Sounds pretty easy, it sometimes is, sometimes it’s not.

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Most WW2 aircraft wrecks were easy to find, since enough information about a specific wreck is available on the internet. S

I can tell you about wrecks I know, but can’t yet locate, such as two B-24s at the former Dobodura airfield I’m still searching for, but I don’t have enough information to find them on that large area.

Lancaster DV202
Lancaster DV202

Then there is a German Fw-200 at Jan Mayen, where I also found a Ju-88, which could be visible on satellite images, but I’m also lacking additional information. Then there are two Ju-52s in different parts of Norway. I managed to find the exact position of one of them, but both areas don’t have detailed satellite images on Google Earth, so I can’t be sure I really found their location.” 

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“I think my favorite wreck is the He-111 at lake Grövelsjön. Although it’s a quite popular wreck, it’s the only wreck of a plane manufactured by Heinkel (my favorite manufacturer) I found. But I also want to mention the Lancaster DV-202 at Peenemünde, because I was able to see it with my own eyes when I visited Peenemünde in Summer 2015.”