By Pierre Kosmidis
Photos and info: http://kerch.com.ru
A P40 fighter aircraft was found at a depth of just 9 meters, 6 kilometers offshore, close to Kerch, Crimea.
Since the aircraft was virtually intact, local divers, along with assistance from a construction company decided to salvage it.
A floating crane lifted the WW2 aircraft wreck from the seabed, after the divers spent seven days underwater to remove the silt and sand around the P40, working in shifts.
“First we inspected the wreck and determined the fixing points. The aircraft weighed approximately 10 tons underwater and the tail part was filled with sand” Vladimir Seliverstov, responsible for the salvage operation, said.
Unfortunately, not everything went according to plan: When the wreck was lifted, the tail part broke off.
Inside the cockpit the researchers found a parachute that the pilot did not use, a bottle with clear liquid (possibly alcohol), a hermetically sealed bandage box, the pilot’s mask, ammunition and a camera.
The presence of the camera enabled the researchers to assume that the aircraft was used for reconnaissance purposes.
Members of the expedition assume that the plane was hit in the area of Eltigen, and while on its way to Taman airfield, flying at low altitude, the pilot was forced to ditch it.
The aircraft was most probably shot down during the Kerch–Eltigen Operation in November 1943.
The pilot escaped, presumably on a raft. Currently the plane is in the port of Kerch. Scientists are searching ID tags and other information that would lead to a positive identification of the aircraft.
After the restoration process will be over, the P40 will be displayed in the fortress “Kerch”, and later it will be transported to the museum “Battery 29-BIS”.