By Pierre Kosmidis
Rod Pearce has dedicated his time and efforts finding underwater aircraft wrecks and seeking closure to the families of hundreds -if not thousands- of Missing in Action (MIA) airmen from all nations that fought during World War Two.
Rod has been diving in Papua New Guinea for 40 years and is credited with discovering most of its best underwater wrecks, including B-17F “Black Jack” 41-24521 and co-finding s’Jacob, along with many other WW2 shipwrecks and aircraft.
“I have been working with the American nonprofit organization called “Pacific Wrecks” (see pacificwrecks.com) for the past ten years or so “Rod says and adds:
“While Justin Taylan -founder and director of Pacific Wrecks- and the rest of his team has mainly been focused on our overland-work, and for the last two years has had a US government contract to investigate MIAs in Papua New Guinea, my interest and focus has always been the underwater side.
Here is what Rod has to say about this specific aircraft wreck:
“This particular aircraft was found in the early 70s by my brother and my self after being told by a friend of a strange aircraft in 20 meters of water in Dreggerhafen, Papua New Guinea.
This particular Model was different than most Tonys as it had as its armament two forward firing 7.7 mm machine guns in the fuselage and two 12.7 mm in the wings.
It probably flew out of Wewak or Cape Gloucester. Most likely it flew with the 2nd Chutai/ 68 or 78 Sentai stationed at Wewak. Units were also at Cape Gloucester and New Ireland.
Most of the aircraft is complete but recently the starboard wing was ripped off by a charter vessel but when found it was complete.
Over the years it has been stripped by divers.
The Propeller is missing and having searched in a area around the aircraft no trace can be found. When we found it there was damage to the leading edge inboard of the port wing. It also had a radio and could have been a flight leader.
We will explore all avenues in Japan and see if any trace can be found of the pilot and what happened to the aircraft. No I.D. can be found on the aircraft.
The black and white picture was taken by Dave Pennyfather about aweek after we found it and the colour ones were taken in May of 2005.
This was my first major find as a wreck diver and is still the find I treasure most.
Notice the damage in the years since we found it. This aircraft is not dived much as not many people know of its location.