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Author Topic: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944  (Read 70236 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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This is the body of an e-mail sent to TIGHAR today.

The serial numbers were not in the e-mail.


From: Diving School of Bolsena Lake, Italy

On June 1944 a USAF B17 Flying Fortress was shot down by two German Fighters and crashed into the Bolsena Lake. None of the crew was found.

After research the Diving School found several pieces of the plane at a depth of 90 meters.

Now we write you because we need your help.

Our mission is give a name to those who lost their lives for our freedom.

In the Museum of our city we will put the parts of B17 and a plaque with the names of the crew members. A place where families can remember their loved ones.

Yesterday, during a dive. we found a small metal plate of the Engine Starter in perfect condition with the following written

AVIATION ENGINE STARTERCORPS TYPE. . . . . . . . .
MFR'S DWG NO. . . . .
SPEC NO

ACCEPTANCE. . . . . .
ECLIPSE AVIATIONDIVISION OF BBENDIX


AVIATION CORPORATION
BENDIX. N. J.
MADE IN USA

and also a lever with a handle and written ADEL

So. are you able to found the serial number of the plane with the serial numbers of the Engine Starter?

Do you have any news about a B 17 shot down over Bolsena Italy on June '44?

Could you know the names of the crew members of that mission?

Please give us as soon as possible all the info you can find.

Thank you so much.

Mario Di Sorte
BOLSENA ITALY

LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
« Last Edit: August 20, 2012, 11:20:14 AM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2012, 10:44:03 AM »

Ok----I'll start. Whether the serial #'s were on the starter or not, is probably irrelevent as far as determining what B17 it was. Parts were changed in the field, and sometimes parts were removed from other non flightworthy aircraft.
Interesting find though.
Tom
Tom Swearengen TIGHAR # 3297
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2012, 05:10:59 AM »

Mario sent me a very excellent photo of the plate from the starter.

Aviation Engine Starter
...ORPS TYPE G-6  MFR's. DWG. NO. 104344-915-4 [remainder obscured]
[unknown field, apparently blank] SPEC. NO. 32304 ACCEPTANCE [two stamped marks]
ECLIPSE AVIATION
DIVISION OF BENDIX AVIATION CORPORATION
BENDIX, N.J., MADE IN U.S.A.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #3 on: August 13, 2012, 07:32:38 AM »

The expedition boat and one of the crew working on the identification of the B-17.
LTM,

           Marty
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #4 on: August 13, 2012, 09:51:45 AM »

Marty

Likely to be a ship from...

Constituted as Fifteenth AIR FORCE on 30 Oct 1943.
Activated in the Mediterranean Theater on 1 Nov 1943.
Began operations on 2 Nov 1943 engaged primarily in strategic bombardment
of targets in Italy, France, Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary
and the Balkans until the end of the war.
Inactivated in Italy on 15 Sep 1945.


http://www.frankambrose.com/pages/groups.html

I am trawling through the various bomb groups to narrow down the likeliest suspects. If they can eye ball any ID on the tail it will give us the Bomb group, it's a start.

Are they certain about the date of the shoot down Marty, because if so it is the most important piece of evidence that will help identification
This must be the place
 
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 09:55:00 AM by Jeff Victor Hayden »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #5 on: August 13, 2012, 04:49:13 PM »

Mario gave us permission to publish his photos.  He'll send more after the next dive.

Here is a small image of the starter ID.  The attachment below is 4 or 5 MB.

LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 06:37:31 PM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2012, 05:39:31 PM »

Ok thanks Marty

Here are some images of what the ID plate was attached to...
This must be the place
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #7 on: August 13, 2012, 06:11:40 PM »

From an e-mail to Mario from Craig Fuller:

With the exception of occasionally engines and machine guns, there is not a way to tie individual component numbers to a specific airframe. This information was not recorded and parts were swapped out regularly in the field during maintenance.

Attached is a MACR list for losses in Italy, I would suggest doing so and seeing if any fall in the area your crash is located at. Keep in mind the Column "MACR Location" is not necessarily where the plane went down, but where the plane was last seen. If there is a location given in the "KU Location" (German Reports), this is usually much more accurate.

It is also possible that this was not a combat loss, but an operation accident. In which case it should be listed here:

 http://www.aviationarchaeology.com/src/dbacnty.asp?country=ITA&Submit=Go

(Note this is the first page of the list and you will need to keep clicking NEXT at the bottom of the page to see the rest.)

Sincerely,

Craig Fuller AAIR Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research

www.AviationArchaeology.com         

aair@aviationarchaeology.com
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #8 on: August 13, 2012, 06:34:54 PM »

I am trawling through the various bomb groups to narrow down the likeliest suspects.

Thanks!

Quote
If they can eye ball any ID on the tail it will give us the Bomb group, it's a start.

They haven't said anything about the condition of the wreck.

They don't have their own web site to track what they're doing.

Quote
Are they certain about the date of the shoot down Marty, because if so it is the most important piece of evidence that will help identification.

That is an excellent question.  I don't have an equally excellent answer.  Two lines from the first e-mail make me think that they were deliberately searching the lake because they knew about the plane being shot down: "On June 1944 a USAF B17 Flying Fortress was shot down by two German Fighters and crashed into the Bolsena Lake. None of the crew was found. After research the Diving School found several pieces of the plane at a depth of 90 meters."

In 2001, a post on the Warbird Information Exchange said "Bolsena Lake.. B17 at 'great depth' surveyed but not recovered."
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Bill Roe

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #9 on: August 13, 2012, 06:46:20 PM »

"None of the crew was found".

Does this mean that the crew may still be in the airplane or near it?  Isn't there some kind of USA Mia group who should be involved?  Getting our guys back should be a priority.

Edit:  further, have the Italians been advised how to proceed in the possibility of locating our guys?
« Last Edit: August 13, 2012, 06:51:54 PM by Bill Roe »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2012, 11:04:02 AM »

Does this mean that the crew may still be in the airplane or near it?

From what I've heard from Mario so far, I get the impression that the wreck is in many pieces.  See my next post for an article about a 1960 group who spent four or five days diving on the wreck site.

Quote
Isn't there some kind of USA Mia group who should be involved?  Getting our guys back should be a priority.

My Italian is pretty weak, but I get the impression from the article attached in the next post that the dive was sponsored by "an American group devoted to identifying remains of airmen all around the world" (loose 'translation' from memory).

Quote
Edit:  further, have the Italians been advised how to proceed in the possibility of locating our guys?

Not by me.  I don't have any advice to give them.  Everything I know about them is in this thread already.
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2012, 11:08:37 AM »

Pictures of a new piece found on a recent dive.  Mario says that the wreck is a "puzzle," by which I think he means that it has broken into many pieces.  "Nobody knows what happened in November 1960. Some fishermen say that the plane was detonated [blew up?]. Effectively during the dive we can see something like a puzzle. There are a lot of parts. In the next few days we'll send you more photos."





An article in Italian about exploration of the wreck site in 1960.  As I said in my previous post, my Italian is weak, but I surmise that the wreck is deep (93 m?) and that it is cold, dark, and dangerous to dive down there.  The article refers to an American group, "Honor the Fallen," searching for remains of airmen lost in World War II, but does not name the group.  Any ideas who they might have been? [Mario answered this question from the article.]
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 08:42:10 AM by Martin X. Moleski, SJ »
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 06:29:37 AM »

Marty

The Bendix Eclipse G-6 was used on Consolidated B-24 Liberators as well...
“The Type G-6 Eclipse starter used on the B-24 is a combination electric and hand inertia starter, and in addition provides continuous cranking of the engine after the flywheel energy has been applied. This is accomplished by means of a heavy duty accelerating motor and a solenoid engaging device."

http://www.bomberlegends.com/pdf/BL_Mag_v1-4-TechTalk.pdf

The following link contains the Aviation Engine Starter
...ORPS TYPE G-6  MFR's. DWG. NO. 104344-915-4 [remainder obscured]
[unknown field, apparently blank] SPEC. NO. 32304 ACCEPTANCE [two stamped marks]
ECLIPSE AVIATION
DIVISION OF BENDIX AVIATION CORPORATION
BENDIX, N.J., MADE IN U.S.A.

Third ad' up from the bottom....
Series 43 Aircraft Starter.   Eclipse Aircraft Starter Type G-6A Spec 95-32304A

http://www.forgottenfield.com/amg/powerplant/

Which begs the question, is it a B-17 four engined plane or a B-24 four engined plane?


Here's why I say that...


3 December 2005 - After more than 60 years divers find the wreckage of a bomber in an Italian lake, reports Richard Owen.

ANNE STORM was only a year old when the birthday letter from her father arrived. Written on the eve of a mission in wartime Italy, it was the last that she would ever hear from her father, Flying Officer Bob Millar, Observer, RAAF. In the years to come she read it over and over, fuelling a life­long quest to trace the bomber in which he and seven comrades died. This week, after more than 60 years, that quest seems close to fulfilment with the discovery of an aircraft deep in an Italian lake.

Mrs Storm’s father went missing while flying in a Liberator bomber over Nazi-occupied northern Italy on 12 October 1944, to drop supplies to partisans. Six aircraft crashed in poor weather but the wreckages of five were located after the war.

Inspired to find the bomber by the tender lines written by her father, four years ago Mrs Storm visited the mountain villages where the partisans had been operating but could not find any leads.

She went to Neirone and Favale di Malvaro, villages in the mountains near Genoa, where the partisans had operated. “I spoke to the old men in the village squares, but they knew nothing about the fate of the Liberator, and in any case my Italian was not fluent enough,” she said.

She turned to Harry Shindler, the representative in Italy of the Star Association, an organisation for Second World War veterans who fought in the Italian campaigns. He studied the flight plan and concluded that the bomber must have disappeared in a lake. He pinpointed Lake Bolsena on the border between Lazio and Umbria and contracted a group of amateur divers to search it, resulting this week in the discovery of a “very large plane” 100 metres down.

http://www.theoddbods.org/2006_04/oddsnends12.htm

http://www.iphpbb.com/foren-archiv/3/139200/138320/b24-near-lake-bolsena-italy-81805422-79380-1849.html

I will try to source the parts you have posted up to see which type of four engined plane they belonged to.

Note: There's more than one aircraft at the bottom of that lake plus, one Chinook helicopter
This must be the place
 
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 12:58:21 PM by Jeff Victor Hayden »
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 08:40:01 AM »

... Note: There's more than one aircraft at the bottom of that lake plus, one Chinook helicopter

OK, the plot thickens.  Thanks for taking this on, Jeff!

:The latest from Mario: "Good morning Marty, thanks for your mail. What we are doing is not simple, but it becomes easier when we meet people like you. I would like to translate the beginning of the article I sent you: 'ONORANZE AI CADUTI ... HONOR THE FALLEN is the name of an organization in America which has existed for many years and operates all over the world. Mr. Schaefer directed the operations. Four, five days mean just the beginning of the research: they will remain here for more than a month.' Tomorrow we'll shoot video of the wreck from above to create a map."
LTM,

           Marty
           TIGHAR #2359A
 
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Jeff Victor Hayden

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Re: Search and recovery: B-17 crashed into Bolsena Lake, June 1944
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 01:19:10 PM »

Ok Marty, that sounds more promising.

The numbers visible on the part of the wreckage Mario sent come up as...

'Boeing helicopter flotation device' but I am sure it is probably just a coincidence as all the numbers are not visible/in shot.
This must be the place
 
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