Two aircraft from the Second World War have been discovered in the South Kamchatka Nature Reserve

Two aircraft from the Second World War have been discovered in the South Kamchatka Nature Reserve.

19.10.2023

A joint expedition of the Russian Geographical Society and the Expeditionary Center of the Ministry of Defense to study the crash sites of American aircraft during the US Army's military operations against Japan has ended in Kamchatka. The main goal of the program, which started in 2021, is to examine and identify fragments of aircraft and take out the found historical artifacts for display in specialized museums.

During World War II, American pilots bombed Japanese naval bases located on the northern Kuril islands of Paramushir and Shumshu. According to documentary data available to the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation, at least 30 American aircraft crashed or made an emergency landing in Kamchatka. The causes of the crashes and accidents were difficult weather conditions, damage to equipment, too long of a distance from the battlefields to military bases, and lack of fuel.

This year, a search expedition has examined Vestnik Bay and Vitamin Lake in the South Kamchatka Federal Reserve. An American B-24 Liberator aircraft made a successful emergency landing on the shore of the bay in 1944. The crew of the downed aircraft was transported to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, then to the United States. The bomber was beyond repair and was left on shore.

"We found part of the cockpit and other fragments of the aircraft in the sand and prepared them for evacuation. The B-24 is a large four—engine aircraft with a wing size of 15 m. Due to the high sail of the wing, we were unable to take it by helicopter to the Mainland. We hope that next year we will find a way to deliver the artifacts to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky airport. Then we will decide which museums to transfer them to," said Anatoly Kalemberg, head of the expedition, specialist at the Expeditionary Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

Vitamin Lake was examined together with representatives of the Russian Underwater Research expedition. In 2021, local residents told researchers that, according to a legend, an airplane made an emergency landing on this frozen lake. According to documentary data, in the autumn of 1945, the P-63 Kingcobra aircraft really crashed in this area, as a result of which the pilot died. It was decided to explore the lake using side-view sonars. The plane was actually found at the bottom of the lake.

"Indeed, he made an emergency landing, but not on ice, but on water. The blow was strong. The tail fell off, the screw spun like a corkscrew, while the cabin has been partially submerged in mud and almost intact, but all the windows except the windshield have been knocked out. We did not find the pilot, but it is unlikely that he could have survived such a crash, especially considering that the water in the lake is very cold. The divers examined the combat vehicle and lifted out of the water an emergency hatchet, a kettle and a thermos of American manufacture," Anatoly Kalemberg said.

In 2024, the search engines plan to return to Vitamin Lake to raise the Kingcobra. In addition, sonars showed the presence of another large object at the bottom of the lake — there is an assumption that this might also be an airplane.