Highlights From the Forum
June 21 through 28, 1999
Been thinking about the big piece again. The one inch rivet spacing was still bothering me. I worked up my own list of candidate source aircraft. I came up with about forty known to have been in the general area, not all of which (to my knowledge) suffered losses. Then I figured which I could get a look at locally.
Looked at a DC-3 locally, and found several areas which were fairly close. I then went to the museum at McChord AFB to look at their Douglas's. The C-47 and B-23 had several spots that were similar, but no smoking gun matches (sounds like an Arquebus). Then I looked at the B-18.
I found two areas which seemed to be very good matches for the part as described.
The first was under the tail, aft of the tail wheel. This area had the four lines of small brazier head rivets spaced one inch pitch. At the front of the area the rows are spaced about five inches, at the aft edge just under four inches, rate is about one quarter inch in two feet. The panel is bordered by a line of heavier rivets with a one and a quarter to one and a half inch pitch. The panel has a marked convex curvature parallel with the rows of rivets. So far so good. The problem with this match is a line of crossing rivets, which does not match 2-2-V-1. The B-18 at McChord was originally a B-18A bomber, converted to a B-18B ASW aircraft with a Radar nose and a MAD boom in the tail, then converted to a cargo aircraft. It shows evidence of modification and repair work in the area. This may account for the crossing line.
The second area is on the upper wing skin. There is a skin panel starting about two feet aft of the leading edge, fourteen inches outboard from the outer panel butt joint. It has about a dozen rows of small brazier head rivets with one inch pitch. At the inboard edge the spacing is about one and a third inches. This tapers down to just under four inches in the first two feet. The leading and trailing edges of the panel have lines of heavier rivets. There are no crossing lines. The panel has curvature parallel to the lines of rivets. A chunk could be cut from this panel which would match the artifact as described.
In neither case was I able to check the skin thickness.
Have the B-18 and DC-2 been checked for matches by your people?
There is another, earlier and less modified, B-18 at the Castle Air Museum in California. It has suffered less modification than the McChord A model. This could be checked for the crossing line under the tail. A DC-2 (which should have a similar wing panel) as well as another B-18A are resident at the Air Force Museum.
Others I haven't checked yet, but which would seem good candidates are the LB-30, Boeing 247 and Douglas Devastator. Have these been eliminated?
LTM, Robert Klaus
Of the aircraft you've mentioned, the most likely candiates would seem to be:
C-47 - because we
know that a C-47A crashed on Sydney Island.
We're quite sure there were no Boeing 247s or DC-2s anywhere near there. We know of no Devastators in the area but we can't do a physcial check because there are none in captivity.
We've looked at various C-47s and DC-3s and while there are a few areas with roughly similar parallel rivet lines, all of the rivets seem to be number 4 (4/32 inch diameter shaft) or higher and the artifact has number 3s. I don't recall seeing the area aft of the tail wheel that you mention but there's a C-47 near here that I can look at. Same problem with the B-18. The rivets are too big.
We've never physically inspected an LB-30 (the only one extant is the CAF's Liberator) but we've crawled all over the USAFM's B-24D and a B-24J. No match.
Being a relative newcomer to this site, I am sure this topic has been well covered, however I have not found sufficient information to answer my questions in your search on your webpage. Therefore I will proceed with my question. Having just completed the Fred Goerner book on Amelia Earhart's disappearance theory, I wonder what your thoughts are about his book. It all seems so well researched, and plausible, however common sense would tell you that in the past 35 years, there has been plenty of time to dispute all of his claims. I have read many books on Amelia Earhart, and this one seems to make more sense than most. I am finding your site quite interesting, and if the Fred Goerner book accomplished anything at all, it was in leading me to your site, due to my new found curiosity. By the way is Mr. Goerner still alive?
Goerner died a couple years ago. Several years before his death he partially repudiated the theory he had put forth in the 1966 book. Although he remained convinced that the Japanese had somehow taken AE to Saipan, he no longer believed she had come down in the Marshall islands. He thought that maybe she had come down at Winslow Reef or somewhere in the Phoenix Group and then was then abducted by the Japanese.
Fred was a journalist, not a historian. He never accepted the frailty of anecdotal testimony. There never has been the first shred of real evidence that the Japanese had anything to do with the Earhart disappearance. He was a pretty good writer and his book became a best seller which popularized one of the greatest American myths since George Washington chopped down the cherry tree.
I have been reading through the book Wings to the Orient (Stan Cohen 1985) off & on during the last week & it has been quite interesting. The book is a pictorial history of Pan Am's set up & operations to the Orient in the mid 30's to the early 40's. It has been good insight into air travel across the Pacific at that time & how little was really known about doing it. There are a few good pictures of Capt. Musick's crew on the original M-130 survey flight in 1935 of which F.N. was navigator, but being a "pictorial" history, FN is not mentioned in the limited text. (I sure wish when those old photographs were taken that the photographers would have thought to include background information on all their subjects......Stuff like former residences, height & shoe sizes, why certain things in their posession had specific numbers stenciled or hand painted on them (even if they werent in their posession yet), social behavior (rumored or not) etc...etc....)
Anyway.....Since things have been slightly left of topic lately (gremlins, rim shots etc...) I thought I'd throw this in.
According to the book, in 1938 the Martin M-130 Hawaaian clipper dissappeared enrout from Guam to, I believe Manila. ( I don't have the book with me to verify that at the moment) The plane simply vanished without a trace. None of it, or its crew have ever been seen since. Gremlins? I doubt it, but you never know. The one I remember seeing as a kid on Twilight Zone sure looked capable of the task......YIKES!!!
What the book does hint at is that the Japanese were the prime suspects in the disappearance. The plane was carrying 2 million dollars to be delivered to the Chinese for their war against Japan, & something was said about the 130 having some design feature the Japanese were interested in (kinda sounds like a Lockheed STORY I once read minus the 2 million dollar part).
The Japanese were suspect because, earlier while the plane was at Alameda 2 Japanese nationals were caught inside the plane trying to sabatoge the DF gear.
Has anyone ever seen any more information about this anywhere? The consp. theory possibilities are endless with this one & some creative forum member can probably even link this to AE &FN.....But I'll leave that to them.......
I just thought that since the forum is in kind of a relaxed, summer, off topic mode waiting for the Niku Recon trip to happen I'd throw it out. Indeed curiouser & curiouser.
God speed on the recon trip!
LTM (lost the Martin)
From Clyde Miller
I don't find it at all unusual that a plane carrying $2 million disappears without a trace and it has nothing to do with the Japanese, the devil's triangle, Gremlins or the lost continent of Atlantis.
A just for instance conversation:
"hey guys! There's
$2 million on this plane"
From Roger Kelley
2 million bucks? In 1938 dollars? And no one has heard from them since? Sounds like the crew did a good job of covering their tracks. Bet their grandchildren are living a very comfortable life some where in darkest Asia or South America.
Roger Kelley, #2112
We seem to have something of a consensus.
From Randy Jacobson 1364
The US Navy was sent out to reconnoiter the downed M-130, and found it the next day: big oil patch. If I remember correctly, it was found by planes, then searched by ship, but I could be mistaken. It was pretty clear to the folks on the scene that it had an accident in the air, and was not due to being shot down near Manila. Sorry, but this is yet another case with excellent hindsight that folks want to ascribe to our Japanese colleagues.
On the other hand, in the written report, there was a reference to a strange looking airplane hovering in the area that didn't have propellers, was quite large, with NCC-1701D lettering on the upper fuselage. No one yet has determined what these markings meant...
From JHam (2128) To Blake H.
If you send me the dates of the flight that disappeared, I can check the Oakland Trib. It would certainly have reported this incident, including the snoopy Japanese, if it happened.
blue skies, -jerry
I sent off a query to the Mahan Naval History list, and of course those folks knew the answer:
"ADMIRAL DAY was one of the "Sub Boats," relatively small freighters built during the World War I emergency program by the Submarine Boat Corporation of Newark, New Jersey. One hundred and fifty of these ships were built, more than of the famous "Hog Islanders" (which are the only American merchantmen of the program that are generally remembered today). The Sub boats had a gross tonnage of about 3,300.
"The history of this ship and her sisters is given in considerable detail in Mark Goldberg's "The Shipping Board's 'Agency Ships,' part I: The 'Sub Boats,'" published by the American Merchant Marine Museum in 1994.
"ADMIRAL DAY's original name was SUTERMCO. She was launched on 28 May 1920; like most of other ships of the Emergency Fleet, she was completed well after the war. Like many of her sisters she had a tangled history with several changes of ownership. In 1931 the Portland California Steamship Company, a subsidiary of Pacific Steam Ship Company--in turn related to the famous Dollar Line, which became American President Lines--bought SUTERMCO and 21 other Sub Boats. SUTERMCO and five other ships were chosen for the company's Admiral Line, operating between British Columbia and California with calls in Washington and Oregon; it was at this point that she was renamed. The Admiral Line went out of business sometime around 1934-1935, and the ship remained mostly idle after that.
"After war broke out prices for ships rose. ADMIRAL DAY changed hands several times, on paper anyway, and in August 1940 ended up in the hands of an Australian company, W.R. Carpenter Overseas Shipping, Ltd., of Sydney. She was registered in New Guinea and sailed from the West Coast for Australia. Her cargo had not been loaded properly and on the initial leg of her voyage, en route to Hawaii, the cargo continually shifted causing alarming lists. She entered Honololu on 1 September 1940, and her cargo was properly stowed. She sailed on the 2nd and her engines died. After they were fixed she got going again on the 11th. A week later, on 18 September, she went ashore and was wrecked on Canton Island. Goldberg does not clearly say so, but it sounds like the crew were all saved."
Outstanding work. Thank you Tom. I wonder if the wreck was towed off and salvaged or whether, by 1942, it had been reduced to just the debris that JDipi saw. In any event, we can now be certain that the wreck of the Admiral Day was not the source of the castaway of Gardner Island whose bones were found by Gallagher within days of when the Admiral Day was wrecked 200 miles away on Canton.
I just love it when we come up with ANSWERS.
Re: Locating the site of the bones, campfire, etc. found by Gallagher.
The plan of the survey of Niku has probably been discussed but I don't remember. Obviously Kanawa Point is high on the list. I keep thinking of Gallagher's saying the bone site was, "... on South East corner of island..." I think our best hope is that he thought of the atoll as consisting of separate islands. That suggests Tekibeia and the region just west of Bauareke Passage. Otherwise he was speaking of the Loran station site and there's nothing left.
How closely has the area west of Bauareke Passage been examined in the past? If not examined before, I presume it will be this time. With the map we have today, it a little hard to make a South East corner, near the lagoon shore in the Tekibeia part of the island. We have to hope it seemed different to Gallagher in 1940.
Re: Coconut Crabs.
Those crabs have figured so much in the discussions here, I hope someone will get some good pictures of them!
Incidently, Gallagher seemed to have no doubt but that the bones had been scattered, and damaged, by the crabs. Perhaps we really need look no further for a bone scattering mechanism -- even dragging completely away from the site. Who can say how near the rest of the bones may have been but were not found in whatever area was clear enough to search?
We've done very little work in the area just west of Bauareke Passage. We'll take a good look on this trip.
Gallagher's various descriptions of the bone site are somewhat contradictory which forces us to try to guess which part of which description doesn't mean what it seems to mean. If his statement that the site is "less than two miles" from a stand of coconut palms, then the Aukaraime site where we found the shoes is the best candidate. But that would mean that when he said "southeast corner" he was speaking verly generally. Hard to figure.
We have plenty of good pictures of coconut crabs but nobody seems to know if they ever drag stuff off to eat it. We should probably try another experiment on this trip. Last time the storm washed away our leg of lamb we had laid out for the crabs.
How much of a trick is it to cross the Bauareke Passage between Tekibeia and Aukaraime? With the village situated in Ritiati, and apparently extending only part way into Noriti, it seems odd that they would have started clearing so far from the village. Might it be that a case can be made for the "South Eeast corner" near the lagoon, and "less than two miles from a stand of Coconut palms" being the same place -- Tekibeia, near the Bauareke Passage? Those coconut palms could have been anywhere from the Loran site to the village site and be less than two miles from the Bauareke Passage.
Curiosity -- has the coral filled in the channel that was blasted through the reef in 1963 to facilitate taking the villagers off the island?
Hey! Have fun on Niku! Remember, the worse it gets the more they like it!
From Pat, who is filling in for a day while Ric is busy with prep---
Bauareke Passage is pretty shallow and easy to wade across at low tide, not like the main passage. I've done it, which means it's actually quite easy now that I think of it, because I have short legs and a low tolerance for sharks :-).
The channel is not filled in at all; that part of the reef is dead, just coral rock, not living coral as far as I know. It's the best way onto the island; in good weather on a high tide you can motor right up to the sand beach and get out dry shod.
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