The Discovery

On July 31, 2007, a resident of Wales was enjoying a day at the beach with his family when he discovered the wreckage of a twin-engined airplane in shallow water just offshore. A week later he returned to the site at low tide with a camera and took a photo of an exposed wingtip. He contacted the Ministry of Defense and was told that the wreck was probably “an unmanned drone launched and brought down as target practice” by the RAF at a nearby airfield in the 1950s. He reported his discovery to a local newspaper, which printed the photo and a brief story.

Local WWII historian Matt Rimmer saw the newspaper article and immediately knew from the photo that the aircraft was a Lockheed P-38 Lightning. He got in touch with the discoverer, who took him to the site. Upon seeing that the airplane is remarkably intact Mr. Rimmer recognized not only the extraordinary historic preservation opportunity the P-38 represents and but also the challenges to be addressed in recovering and conserving the aircraft. He was also keenly aware of the need for secrecy and prompt action to prevent looting by souvenir hunters.

The distinctive wingtips and tailbooms of the aircraft make identification certain.

The Lightning The Discovery The Accident Ownership
Significance The Survey Plans Participate

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