By Pierre Kosmidis
Photos and videos:
© Marinos Giourgas, published under license
Mr. Marinos Giourgas is a technical diving instructor and together with his colleagues, they found off Rhodes a Luftwaffe Junkers 52 in very good condition, at a depth of approximately 80 meters.
The discovery of the Ju 52 in almost intact condition is in itself an extraordinary event, as has been depicted in an article in Scuba Diver magazine
www.ww2wrecks.com reached out to Mr. Marinos Giourgas to unravel the thread of this amazing discovery and appeal to researchers worldwide, in order to help identify this specific WW2 wreck, providing evidence to questions that remain unanswered.
How did you find the Ju52?
The wreck was identified after many months of research in 2018.
We gathered useful information by the locals and with the active support of the deputy mayor of Rhodes, Mrs. Mariza Hatzilazarou, we conducted a series of dives, many of which were unsuccessful as they were performed in conditions of extremely low visibility.
It should be noted that the absence of certified divers for this depth on the island of Rhodes made my work harder as I had to rely on my friend Alan Whitehead who flew from Malta to dive together and explore the target area in March 2018.
Also important was the contribution of my colleague Vasilis Mentogiannis with his side scan sonar, which made the discovery of the wreck’s location possible.
It was in May 2018 that we had the final verification that it was indeed a Junkers 52, when we had photo evidence in our hands and decided to organize a technical diving exploration of the wreck.
In early July 2018, with the help of the Deputy Mayor, Techwise Malta and Waterhoppers Rhodes diving centers, I invited Stuart Philpott of Scuba Diver Magazine to visit me in Rhodes and dive together with me, in order to write an article about the newly found wreck.
Tell us about the dive at a depth of 80 meters and what did you see at the seabed?
The dive was aimed at taking photographs and we did not have much bottom time to fully explore and identify it.
After the safety checks on the surface, the gas switching procedures etc., we followed the dive line, which was about 20 meters from the target and found ourselves in front of an amazing spectacle.
The aircraft wreck is in almost intact condition, with the exception of one engine, which must have detached from the fuselage when the aircraft ditched at sea.
The wreck rests on the sandy seabed and all of its parts are in place.
The machine guns, the rescue boat behind a barrel inside the fuselage, all cockpit instruments are in an excellent condition, considering it has been for 75 years in the Aegean Sea.
After we concluded our dive, we swam to the diving line that was waiting for us to show us the way to the surface.
On our line were the security divers Thomas Zovas and Goran Michailovics, with extra gas cylinders for every eventuality.
After 80 minutes under the surface and with feelings of excitement and joy, we surfaced and, quite naturally, the bombing of questions began!
What are your feelings when you dive a WW2 Wreck?
Emotions are mixed.
On one hand there is the joy of discovery and the realization that you are the first to visit a WW2 Wreck.
These feelings are multiplied by 100 when the wreck is in exceptional condition, like this Junkers 52.
On the other hand, however, one can not fail to wonder why the aircraft ended up 75 meters below sea level.
The comforting thing is that as the aircraft was found in this state, meaning it was softly ditched and not crashed, the crew had the time to abandon it, a fact confirmed by the lack of human remains in the wreck.
Were you able to locate a tag that would lead to its identification?
No, there was no such effort as the second dive was more demanding because of the poor visibility that prevailed.
Both dives were extremely rewarding, in terms of pictures and experiences.
The find is in excellent condition and the diver will appreciate that it has a Junkers 52 with 2 of its 3 engines, its equipment and its elements in place as if it is ready for another mission.
After a survey conducted in the land area near the area where the plane was found, the control tower and the landing track that was never reached by the Junkers 52 pilot, probably due to a lack of fuel, were found.
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