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Author Topic: Norwich City or Electra debris?  (Read 30606 times)

RGWealleans

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Norwich City or Electra debris?
« on: August 24, 2019, 04:12:15 PM »

I've posted an interesting enlargement below this post today 9-19-19. Please view it.
I'm a new member. However, I have been a fan for years and an even great number of years interested in Earhart, Miller, et al. I've read a lot of posts here about Earhart. The Bevington photo always intrigued me along with the landing wheel inadvertently captured. I've seen a piece of debris referred to as "Dash dot" in the Bevington photo. In 2010 (4/13) Ric said it had been identified as coming from Norwich City. Later, someone asked in the forum if there was any follow up and what were they? Ric replied "probably large coral blocks." In 2019, Ric says it's wreckage from Norwich City that turns up in other photos. Even on this website, it's tough to correlate posts, whether question or answer. Let's remember the setting for the Bevington (Bev) photo. It's a few months after Earhart disappears. "Bev" is on board a ship, sailing away, and has three things on his mind: His camera, its settings, and the large, rusty shipwreck he wants to take a photo of that's been on the reef for eight years. Bev is oblivious to the landing wheel and probably oblivious to anything concerning an aircraft. He sets up his camera, frames the shot, and we have the photo. I think the analysis of the object and its identity as a landing wheel of an Electra is brilliant work and is spot on. Now, why can't there be other debris on the reef at this time? When does an airplane not look like an airplane? The answer is when it is in pieces minus the telltale tail, rudder, wings and other "instantly" recognizable parts. I questioned what object from Norwich City would be so bright and reflective eight years after running aground? Photos of the ship do show white-painted funnels. The white wooden superstructure burned after grounding in the fire reported by the crew in reports. I looked at the Bev image and strictly as an amateur enlarged an internet-posted Bev picture intrigued by the object's brightness and a tiny dark area I discerned thereon. A slight enlargement made me think it was cylindrical in nature and the tiny dark spot on an otherwise highly-reflective piece became a window. Aware that it might be an artifact and "squarish" due to pixel shape, I still enlarged it further. It seemed familiar and it seemed to match the starboard side of the fuselage between the wings and tail. The "dot" to its right is a blur of darkness. Note how the bottom of the larger object or "dash" reflects the water or is in shadow due to its shape. What I see is the broken Electra fuselage remnant and the apparent, curve-shaped "dot" are the wing stub/nacelle partially submerged. The Norwich City (NC) debris is rusty metal, so what might this bright object be 8 years later? Could it be the Electra hiding in the debris field of the NC? Ric noted in 2010 that it is too close to NC to be Electra debris. What if it floated to that spot? Has any forensic analysis been done like was done on the wheel? I'm just having fun. Look at the photos attached. What do you think? Was this object dismissed too quickly?
« Last Edit: September 19, 2019, 08:11:51 PM by RGWealleans »
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RGWealleans

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Re: 1941 photo: Norwich City or Electra debris?
« Reply #1 on: September 19, 2019, 08:10:46 PM »

Debris seems to travel east to west or port to starboard in relation to the Norwich City. Photos of the wreck of the NC are a time clock of how the wreck disintegrates over time. The few photos of the NC taken years apart, at different times of day with different tide conditions / water depth might possibly hide debris from the Electra if it broke up shortly after landing. In this 1941 image that I enlarged (aware of shadows playing tricks, etc), I see the nose section of the Electra (right-side up after it has "tumbled" and traveled down the reef and passed the bow of the NC). I also see the hole in the nose (Remember AE looking out in a photo from the nose of her plane under repair?) & the Electra's cockpit windows. Then, there is a lighter / brighter image subtly above this "nose image" & I confess I can't help but notice and be surprised by the peculiar straight edge horizontally (bottom nr nose image) and the angled edges of the other horizontal line - looks like the tail section (horizontal stabilizer) to me oriented 180 degrees about (possibly, serendipitously, close to the nose section at this moment seven years post landing). The tail is tapered to the rear wheel and is lower. In this assumed position, 180 degrees about, we can see it in the sunshine and the view is of the top of the horizontal stabilizer (not rudders). The shape is unmistakable to me who's built many R/C scale model aircraft and, if it's a trick of the light or NC debris that is similarly shaped, then that is amazingly coincidental. It's low tide and luckily mostly visible and oriented to be identifiable. What do you think? Was this photo and this section ever scrutinized like the Bevington object? The outline of the two tail horiz. stabilizers seems too good to be true but.... Might the Electra have hidden in plain sight? Underwater, turned over, pieces unrecognizable from the air? Unseen due to the time of day and the height of the tide? Those reference wreckage photos on the website - if they were covered by water, would you see them? Any thoughts? One might dismiss my nose section but the outline of the rear stabilizers is tough to dismiss. If there is or was a broken-off, landing gear wheel, then what about this, possibly larger debris? This photo is from 1942 and postdates, obviously, the 1941 photo where I've identified the Electra nose near the surfline, starboard of the NC stern. So, the nose section appears and months later has been pushed shoreward to appear in the 1942 photo.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 11:58:07 AM by RGWealleans »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris?
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2019, 08:27:11 AM »

The objects in the second photo seem to be closer to the Norwich City than the area where the Bevington Object was located and closer to the NC than the area pointed to by Emily Sukuli when Ric and company interviewed her some years ago.  The objects Emily described were not shiny; they were rust-colored which eliminates any remaining bits of fuselage and wings/rudder/stabilizers.  What would be "rusty" are the main spar and engine mounts, etc., those parts being made of iron/steel.  The only way these "dot-dash" objects could be fuselage/wing remains is if they were ripped from the main spar by wave action and pushed closer to the NC.

If this is true, where did they go?  I, for one, believe they were gradually pushed around the bow of the NC and ended up on the reef flat adjacent to and/or in front of the Tatiman Passage entrance.  The December, 1953 mapping photos show highly reflective objects in this area.  Again, I believe they are parts of the wings and stabilizers.  They may be parts of the fuselage - the resolution of these photos isn't good enough to make a positive identification.

There is nothing there now, so where did, they go?  There are stories of aluminum airplane parts being found on the lagoon beach just across from Tatiman Passage.  Presumably they were picked up and re-purposed by the colony.  Some may have sunk into the silt of the lagoon bottom.  I recall at some point photographs show a sizable piece of NC wreckage, perhaps a boiler(?), on the shore of the lagoon even further down from Tatiman Passage.  It's gone now, again probably into the silt.  If a piece of steel that big could end-up that far down in the lagoon, scrap pieces of aluminum could as well.  Oh, and don't forget the "Wheel of Fortune", an object seen (but not recovered and gone later) in the waters of the Tatiman Passage that just might have been the Electra's tailwheel. 

Some pieces may have ended up going over the edge of the reef in the area of Tatiman Passage.  At least one piece went further down the reef past Tatiman Passage and ended-up on the beach at the head of the Landing Channel.  We now know it as 2-2-V-1.

We will have to wait awhile yet for the National Geographic special in October, but since nothing significant seems to have been found (or at least leaked), perhaps there may be something still to be found over the edge of the reef between Tatiman Passage and maybe as far as Bauareke Passage.  The track of the Nautilus shows some work in that area.

So, what about the rusty wreckage Emily described.  It likely went over the edge of the reef somewhere between the area of the Bevington Object and the remains of the NC.  It would have probably been too heavy to have been washed around the bow of the NC into the larger reef flat.  I will have to do some digging to see if the time frame Emily reported seeing the rusty objects was before or after the stern section of the NC broke off and tumbled down the reef edge.  I think the stern fell off before Emily arrived but I want to check.  If it was before, then what Emily saw is likely mixed-up with the NC stern wreckage.  Nautilus doesn't seem to have seen anything Electra-related there.

In the end, I think there may still be some work to do at Nikumaroro in the future.  Maybe.  $$$ permitting.

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RGWealleans

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2019, 12:58:43 PM »

I've added to the enlarged photo with some more observations & an Electra tail graphic. The piece I identified in the Bevington photo (posted on this website) as the broken fuselage piece is now well to starboard of the Norwich City & still has a small dark smudge in the center that I think is the fuselage window. As for the (shiny or reflective) tail outline, it's almost unmistakable. I will post another photo enlargement of the reef area to the left or NC's port not in this blowup which to me looks like the upside down core of the fuselage & wing stubs & in that photo, could the dark smudge visible in the upper portion be the remaining Electra landing wheel? (I regret that I am not proficient with "Paint" but the text to the right of this posted image says that below the "shiny tail" is the fuselage nose with nosecone gone & cockpit windows & the oblong circle is the fuselage piece between the tail & nose with evidence of a window in its center.) Now, a few days later, I noticed what I had missed astern and starboard of the NC wreck in this 1941 photo, the distinct nose and fuselage of the Electra just at the surf-line at low tide.(See later posts). It's a process!
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 12:00:56 PM by RGWealleans »
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RGWealleans

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris? More observations & conjecture.
« Reply #4 on: September 23, 2019, 11:04:20 PM »

The Bevington object or Electra landing wheel is almost an upside-down view of an "attached" landing gear. Depending upon the water depth on the roof at the time Bevington took this photo, is it possible it is still attached to the underside of the wing? While the light-colored part of the image at the "bottom" of the object may be a reflection or surf, it also might be the underside of the fuselage. In the photo above I circled what looks like the upside down "core" of the aircraft - the upside down wing stubs, "half-nacelles" and that part of the fuselage. Curiously, there is a shadow on one part which looks to be an upright object and just might be that Bevington object still attached. Let's say the Electra slips further and further into the water from its landing point and then gets flipped over onto the ledge of the reef; is it possible for the Electra to be broken up while still on the submerged portion of the reef and then, broken apart, becomes lighter, easily moved by the waves, and re-emerges onshore at a later date along with other debris? One photo I posted shows what looks to be the outline of the Electra's tail. The same circled image seems to show the nose portion with the nose door blown out. Could it be that the Electra wreckage is slowly making its way west or toward the NC and to its starboard and then washed off the reef afterward? Might the orientation of the island & the the prevailing longshore drift account for this. Wreckage, whether NC or purported Electra seems to universally be driven to starboard or west / southwest per the stills of the NC taken over time and at various tidal depths on the reef. When the villagers went out to the reef, did they just go to the part of the reef south of the lagoon channel? I mean, how often would they venture over that channel to the NC, itself? They could see the wreck and they could see plenty of debris on their side of the channel. Would there be any interest in going to the wreck itself? For the CG guys in WW2, it was miles away at the other end of the island. I think that a lot of reef activity and debris movement near to and east of the NC went unnoticed for years. The photos I posted offer some tantalizing (possibly misleading) images possibly worthy of some of the same analysis the Bevington object photo received. The clear outline of one horizontal stabilizer "wing" plus the upside down portion of a "core fuselage piece with a shadow in the place where the wheel might still be attached, if I had the funds, would prompt me to at least make a preliminary query of a photographic analysis expert as to what these images show (provided I had or could find the original photo).
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RGWealleans

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Re: Electra fuselage re-located in Jan 1942 photo? Actually, it's 1940/41 photo
« Reply #5 on: September 23, 2019, 11:34:52 PM »

In my earlier postings, above I posted a picture of the NC with what I assert is the tail and fuselage nose of the Electra. I looked very closely at the Jan 1942 photo, again. Now, what I posted earlier (port of NC) as possibly being the core fuselage section, I now believe is the tail section. I wondered what happened to the nose section in that previous photo taken in '41. Suddenly, I saw it! Just at the surf line, just at the starboard and the stern of the NC, there is the Electra! Ready to be swept onward and possibly into the abyss, eventually. It's closer to the camera and, to me, clearly shows the open nose hatch or cap/cone, the cockpit windows and the unmistakable nose of the Electra - see for yourselves.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 02:22:54 AM by RGWealleans »
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RGWealleans

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Re:Electra fuselage on reef! / nose view nr NC shipwreck Jan 1942 photo
« Reply #6 on: September 23, 2019, 11:59:59 PM »

Closer to the camera now, a previous object identified by me in an earlier (actually later) Norwich City wreck photo (and very blurred) as the nose or Electra fuselage was just spotted by me in the 1941 flyover / flyby image of the NC. It's almost invisible in its light coloring and closeness to the surf line. But it's there! Take a look at this photo enlargement. Right at the surf line, I see the port engine nacelle and that engine might be still attached in this photo but it is difficult to resolve. This discovery leads me to think the other circled object is the fuselage-tail section and the shadowy upright is not the landing wheel but one of the twin rudders whose curves extend above and below the horizontal stabilizer. (Right, in my previous posts, I've got the order of the NC photos backwards, the stern image of the Electra at the surf line predates the image of this same nose piece off the starboard bow in the 1942 photo).
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 12:43:08 PM by RGWealleans »
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RGWealleans

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Re: Electra nose debris in plain sight?
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2019, 01:49:28 AM »

Bill made some great observations and it is in line with my thinking. Bill? What do you think of the object in the lower right circle? Look familiar? I can practically "see" Earhart peeking out of the nose hole. From 1941. Take the TIGHAR image from "The long Farewell of the NC" from the TIGHAR website and enlarge the starboard stern area of the water/surf, low-tide line. In the later 1942 photo, this piece is just off the starboard bow (facing the bow of the ship) with what resembles the horizontal tail just above it (the outline of the left horizontal stabilizer is pretty convincing). The nose hole easily discernible in the 1942 photo not presented here but I invite you to enlarge that image and see for yourself.
Exciting stuff, no?
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 02:25:43 AM by RGWealleans »
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Matt Revington

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris?
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2019, 06:33:30 AM »

In late 1938 the a New Zealand Survey Party came to Gardner,  they tied off their vessel to the Norwich City wreck since they could not find good anchorage and went through the wreck.  They "manhandled " their equipment across the reef and set up camp on the beach nearby ( https://www.tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Documents/New_Zealand_Survey_Report/gardnerreport.html).  There is even a photo of the reef taken through a hole in the ship's hull (https://tighar.org/Projects/Earhart/Archives/Research/Bulletins/68_LostandFound/68_LostandFound.html).  While it is not impossible that they missed these large, shiny aluminum pieces of the Electra that you see in the 1941 photos that are close to the wreck I find it  improbable,  the bevington object would have been a couple of hundred yards down the beach and could reasonably have been missed
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 09:23:22 AM by Matt Revington »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris?
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2019, 09:21:33 AM »

Matt is right.  It is very unlikely that had any pieces of the Electra been well-up on the reef flat near the NC they would not have been reported and recorded in the NZ final report. 

But having just re-read the 1938 Aerial Survey report and looked at the posted photos in the thread https://tighar.org/smf/index.php/topic,1222.0.html, I do not see any of the objects you are highlighting in any of the 1938 photos.

If I remember right, the stern section finally let go and tumbled over the reef one evening during a storm during the NZ visit (maybe it was the Bushnell visit).  This opened-up the inside of the hull and greatly accelerated the break-up of the ship and scattering pieces over the reef which are seen in 1941. 

What RG is saying is not impossible but it would mean that the fuselage section(s) would have had to stay hung-up at the reef edge for some years (July '37 to sometime before the '41 pictures and be tossed back up onto the reef to be photographed.  I guess stranger things have happened.

Although, . . . it would be interesting to know the where and how the piece of control cable seen being used as a fishing line leader was found.  From inside the fuselage/tail/wing section?

It's fun to think about things like this but I don't know how it helps inquiries in 2019.
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RGWealleans

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris? Electra nose section in 1941 photo
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2019, 11:44:31 AM »

It is entirely possible that the fuselage nose worked its way down the beach /reef from the location of the Bevington object over a three year period until it passed the bow and began to be washed back and forth up and down the reef north to south & vice-versa to be photographed serendipitously at the surf line at low tide in the 1941 photo. In the 1942 photo of the shipwreck, just off the starboard bow, this same object or fuselage nose is visible with the distinctive nose shadow or dark spot but it is more blurred. I posted earlier in this thread that above that blurry nose image in the 1942 photo is the distinct outline of the tail or left horizontal stabilizer (curved on one side & straight-edged "parallel" to it) with horizontal line hints of the trim tabs. In the 6 months between photos, this fuselage piece has been driven further onshore probably spared further movement to the west, by the lee of the shipwreck, from the longshore drift or flow of the ocean, surf and currents. It is possible that once the fuselage piece went beyond the shipwreck & further toward the beach, it became subject to the westerly flow of the tide and water and washed off the reef somewhere to the west of the NC. A lot of time and money was spent on a 1 mm image that was enhanced to produce a landing wheel from a 1937 photo. I do not know where this 1941 original photo is located or if there is even a negative of it but I do think that this closer-to-the-camera and rather distinct object highly similar to the Electra's nose in the 1941 photo bears some professional scrutiny much as the Bevington object did. It's shiny, not rusty all the way around, and, to me, is clearly the nose section of the plane. We only have two Norwich City photos with enough detail to use; this Electra fuselage nose object is in both. In the 1942 photo, the tail section above it is highly reflective, not rusty. While the idea of how it got there is intriguing, whether along the reef beach or submerged on the reef rim, it's there! If you believe in the Bevington object and what it is touted to be (I do), you have to believe that somewhere between there and the shipwreck, other debris existed for a time. The wreck itself and all the rusty junk broken off it are distracting to any viewer of the photos and anyone looking at the wreck until you relax and take in every single image and shape visible in the photos including some so light they seem to blend into the background. This is a deserted island from the 1880s until Earhart landed here on July 2, 1937. The natives spoke of airplane wreckage. Well, I do believe I found an even better telltale piece of wreckage than the landing wheel. Additionally, I do not think daily tours or visits went out to the wreck itself at low tide. The settlement is across the lagoon channel from the wreck. Aircraft parts probably broke off and washed across the channel to the settlement side & were found. We have 2 photos and I've tried to make the best of them. After building dozens of scale R/C planes in my younger days, I cannot help but see the Electra's nose in this 1941 photo and the horizontal stabilizer in the 1942 photo just above the blurry image of the shore-driven nose and next to the dark, rusty object with the "horn" prevalent in both photos and that strangely shaped object in nearly the same location in both photos. Ballard wanted more definitive proof that Earhart landed on Gardner. This is the best I could come up with. I've little doubt that my analysis is correct and the Electra is there just a few meters from the low tide surf line next to the stern of the SS Norwich City (and off the bow in the 1942 photo).
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RGWealleans

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris? Electra tail section
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2019, 11:55:05 AM »

If you take this photo of the Lae(?) takeoff of the Electra & cut off the tail section behind the door and flip it upside down, you get the shape that is the image in the upper left of the 1941 photo of the Norwich City, just off the port bow and circled in one of my posts, including the twin rudder curves that extended below the horizontal stabilizer visible as to its distinct wing shape in the 1942 photo.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 12:06:19 PM by RGWealleans »
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Matt Revington

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris?
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2019, 01:17:28 PM »

I do not see the tail section in these  photos I see a sheet of metal that could be portion of the hull and couple of objects poking out of the water nearby that may or may not be associated with the larger piece, but I do see that image of the front end of plane in the surf on the reef edge to the right of the NC, but to me it looks oddly out of place like it physically doesn't fit, you may be correct that more professional analysis might be necessary, I wonder if there was some transfer from another image on the roll of film taken by the PBY.

One question for anyone who has more complete knowledge of how the island colony worked would be whether the Norwich City was the usual mooring spot for incoming ships.  The NZ expedition moored to it upon arrival in December 1937 but the stern broke off in a storm in January 1938.  The landing channel used by current visitors was not blasted into the reef until the late 50's or early 60's I believe so how were supplies brought to shore in the 1940s and and 50s?  I have looked at the island diaries available for the early 1940s and they just mention ships arriving and labourers moving supplies from the ship to the beach and to the village, sometimes over a period of a couple of days but no details on how.  Did they have canoes that they could paddle out to the ships or did the ships still moor to the NC.  If they did moor to the NC then there would be traffic out on that part off reef on regular basis and any aircraft pieces would likely have been noticed.

« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 01:42:10 PM by Matt Revington »
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RGWealleans

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris? 1942 image of Electra nose further up reef
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2019, 01:17:49 PM »

The nose piece in the 1941 photo has moved shoreward in the 1942 photo of the Norwich City and visible just off the starboard bow. This is the photo from TIGHAR site. Same nose shape, same nose shadow for lost nosecone and hints of the windows. It says to me that the 1941 photo and image of the Electra nose is not an artifact or anomaly caused by the surf!
Above this fuselage piece, seemingly part of it, is the shiny outline of the tail, the left horizontal stabilizer with straight edge (lower) and leading edge curve (top). Magnify and look. I regret I have no better tools or a better copy of this photo. I'm just saying that these object bear better and more thorough scrutiny like the Bevington object received.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2019, 01:21:57 PM by RGWealleans »
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RGWealleans

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Re: Norwich City or Electra debris? Electra crash March 1937
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2019, 01:27:37 PM »

Bear in mind this Electra crash photo from March 1937 for comparison and what I've identified as the nose of this plane in the 1941 and 1942 NC photos. I do believe that just behind the wind stubs in the 1941 image at lower right, the rest of the aircraft has broken off. To me, this is confirmed in the 1942 photo which shows the shiny tail section behind /right "above" the nose section facing the "wrong way" or leading edges of the tail's horizontal left stabilizer facing away from the camera.
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