Volume 14 No. 2,
December 1998
The Wreck Photo

With the help of the RAAF Museum in Point Cook, Australia and the Smithsonian’s Paul E. Garber Facility in Suitland, Maryland we’ve been able to eliminate the Tachikawa Ki-54 as a candidate for the aircraft in the photo. The Lockheed Model 10 equipped with the Pratt & Whitney R1340 engine is now left as the only known type which features all of the structural elements visible on the wreck. The type of damage exhibited, details of the environment, and even the existence of a photograph, correspond well with anecdotal accounts of aircraft wreckage seen on Nikumaroro which are corroborated by forensic imaging of aerial photos of the island which appear to indicate the presence of metal debris in a specific location. Based upon what we know at this time, this could be a picture of NR16020 on Nikumaroro.

Various hypotheses about who took the picture and how it was that the wreck was never linked with the Earhart disappearance are being tested. The possibility that the photo was taken by a crew member of USS Swan during a visit in 1942 is being researched by Ron Dawson #2126. The chance that surviving members of the New Zealand survey party, who were on the island in late 1938 and early 1939, have recollections which may be of help is being checked out by researchers in New Zealand.

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