Forum logo Why wasn’t the Electra found when a six-man survey party from New Zealand spent two months on the island in December 1938/January 1939?


Many of the same factors apply to the New Zealand survey party as applied to the earlier but much briefer British visit. The New Zealanders, too, came ashore on the south side of the shipwreck which masked the putative aircraft wreck site from view and the focus of their work was inland and on the lagoon. Like their predecessors, they took a photo that shows the material on the reef. The photo was taken though a hole in the hull of the shipwreck looking northward along the reef at high tide and is captioned “Undertow through gap in side of wreck” (see Forensic Imaging). The suspect material on the reef is visible in the photo but seems to be submerged by the high tide and certainly is not recognizable as aircraft wreckage. (The allegation that the material on the reef was from an airplane comes from later in the island’s history when Gilbertese fishermen had occasion to be up close to the wreckage while fishing along the reef edge.) An additional impediment was the weather. November through March is the “westerly” season during which the island is subject to heavy seas out of the west and northwest. Heavy westerly weather was experienced by the survey party in the first part of January, 1939.


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