Evaluation and Assessment of Significance
Archaeological Site: 8BY1817 (Aircraft Crash)
Final Report, April 24, 2017, page 5.

Artifact Analysis

Wreckage within the surface debris consisted primarily of riveted sheet aluminum, rolled sheet aluminum, cast aluminum, cast magnesium, ferrous attachment hardware, asbestos, glass, rubber, fiberglass, fabric, Bakelite, Formica, Plexiglas and other plastics. No manufacturer data plates, identifying numbers, or unit insignias were found on site. Extant, faded paint colors on artifacts included light green, olive drab, red, and black.

Particular attention was given to part numbers, inspection stamps, colors, and markings on the scattered aircraft remains in an attempt to identify the precise aircraft model represented. An attempt to recognize the intact components as well as those torn, bent, broken and crushed, was made to provide corroborating evidence of the aircraft type. Most of these elements were fragmented and could not be identified with any degree of certainty. However, several identifiable artifacts were selected for individual photographic documentation as representative of, and consistent with, a T-33A aircraft. A helpful aid to identification of wreckage was the T-33A on exhibition at the United States Air Force Armament Museum adjacent to Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Artifacts on site, along with archival research of crash reports, determined the aircraft type represented on 8BY1817 is a Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star.

The artifacts described in the following pages are considered the most representative of those located on 8BY1817 from the T-33A aircraft that crashed there, and provide a general understanding of the site’s origin and context. A comprehensive photographic record, along with a narrated video tour of 8BY1817, has been provided to Three Rivers Resource Conservation & Development Council on Digital Video Disc (DVD).

Canopy Railing/Fuselage Fragment, Figure 10

This assemblage of artifacts includes (in the top half of figure 10, right) fragments of the canopy railing and center support that provided the structural integrity for the Plexiglas canopy over the cockpit, diagnostic to T-33A aircraft. The larger of the crushed fragments in the foreground of the photo appears to be from the faring behind the canopy, and the smaller fragment to the right seems consistent with areas on the sides of the fuselage beneath the cockpit, given the remnant of a stenciled letter in black paint. The canopy railing and support are constructed of riveted, heavy gauge aluminum alloy and the fuselage fragments are flush riveted sheet aluminum alloy; all exhibit light to moderate oxidation.11


Figure 10. Upper/Lower Canopy Railing and Fuselage Fragments.

Wing Spar, Fuel Line, Ripcord, and Harness Fragments. Figure 11

These artifacts form an assemblage of T-33A fragments once located near the center of the airframe where the wing meets the fuselage. The tubular sheet aluminum alloy object nearest the top of the image is part of the fuel vent line from the fuselage tank behind the cockpit. The large object at the center of the photo, made from riveted, structural aluminum alloy and ferrous fasteners, is a section of one of the spars providing the main structural support for the wing. The spar retains green zinc chromate paint on its surfaces, used as a corrosion inhibitor. In the foreground on the left is the stainless steel ripcord conduit and grip from one of the crew’s backpack design parachutes (USAF style B-5LPU). Part of the reinforced fabric pilot harness is in the foreground of the image on the right. All metal artifacts exhibit light to moderate oxidation. The fragmenting of the wing spar is consistent with a high speed, high angle impact with the terrain.12


Figure 11. Wing Spar, Fuel Line, Ripcord, and Harness Fragments

Ammunition Chute Fragment, Figure 12

This stainless steel artifact was a part of the ammunition housing assembly located in front of the cockpit. The T-33A had two .50 caliber machine guns mounted in the nose of the aircraft, used by USAF student pilots for gunnery training. Stamped into this artifact is the text and number combination, “ASSM178032L B” which subsequent research has identified as part of the chute assembly channel in the gun feed for the M-3 .50 caliber machine guns used on T-33A aircraft. Although this artifact is quite misshapen from the crash event, it exhibits little corrosion due to its material composition.13

Figure 12. Ammunition Chute Fragment, Artifact #8BY1817-15.

Access Cover, Wing Tip Fuel Tank, Figure 13

This artifact contains an embossed text/number combination on its interior surface “ST25-230-0078” that identifies it as an aircraft access cover manufactured for 230 gallon universal wingtip fuel tanks. This tank type was designated “universal” as it could be attached to the wingtips of different aircraft, specifically the T-33A, F-80, F-84E, F-84G, and F-94A/B. This cast aluminum artifact was matched to wing tip tank access covers on two T-33A aircraft on outdoor exhibition: Serial Number 53-5947 (last flown by the 325th Fighter Weapons Wing at Tyndall AFB) at the USAF Armament Museum in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and Serial Number 52-9326 at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post in Covington, Indiana.14


Figure 13. Access Cover, Wing Tip Fuel Tank, Artifact #8BY1817-5.

Figure 14. Access Cover (exterior) on  T-33A at USAF Armament Museum. Figure 15. Label on wing tap tank on T-33A at VFW in Covington, Indiana.


Davis, “The T-33 T-Bird,” in P/F-80 Shooting Star in Action, 40-5. Back.


T-33 Mark 3 Silver Star Airframe Training Manual, (Astra, Ontario: Royal Canadian Air Force, January 1958), 6-1D https://www.scribd.com/doc/8718462/T-33-Mk-3-Silver-Star-Airframe-Training-Manual-Jan-1958# (Accessed March 25, 2017); “USAF Flight Gear From 1950s – Korea – Part 4,” Heritage Flightgear Displays, https://heritageflightgeardisplays.wordpress.com/2011/01/19/usaf-flight-gear-from-1950s-korea-part-4/ (Accessed March 25, 2017). Back.


Email to author from Craig Fuller (Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research), February 24, 2017; Davis, P/F-80 Shooting Star, 11; “M3 .50 Caliber Machine Gun,” http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/systems/m3.htm (Accessed March 25, 2017). Back.


Email to author from Craig Fuller (Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research), February 24, 2017. Back.
Abstract & Introduction Previous Investigations and Preliminary Findings Site Specific Aviation Historical Context Site Specific Aviation Historical Context 2 Artifact Analysis
Artifact Analysis 2 Archival Research NRHP Assessment of Eligibility & Recommendation Bibliography  

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