Operation Sepulchre

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This Me109G is on display at the United States Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio. TIGHAR photo by P. Thrasher.

Like Chariots In A Pharoah’s Tomb

At the close of World War Two, so the story goes, underground bombproof hangars were sealed by retreating German forces, or by advancing Allied units fearful of boobytraps, thereby entombing intact Luftwaffe aircraft. Should such a treasure trove be discovered it would present an unparalleled aviation historic preservation opportunity. But is there any truth to the dozens of tales? For ten years TIGHAR’s ongoing investigation has subjected the most promising rumors of underground hangars to thorough archival research and, where warranted, on-site inspection. That such facilities were planned by OKW (the German High Command) and the RLM (the Air Ministry) is beyond question. That at least some were actually constructed is equally well documented. However, allegations of surviving sealed and undisturbed sites have, so far, proved to be as false as they are fascinating.

The opening of eastern Europe has provided unprecedented access to many areas which were once deep within the Third Reich. In recent years the wrecks of several World War Two types once thought to be extinct have emerged from forests and lakes, so the possibility that intact aircraft still exist undiscovered and underground continues to be worthy of rational inquiry.

If you have an underground hangar story you’d like to pass along, or if you’re already a TIGHAR member and need help researching such a story, just email TIGHAR's Executive Director Richard Gillespie at TIGHAR.

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