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Author Topic: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake  (Read 38022 times)

Matt Rimmer

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #15 on: May 28, 2010, 12:54:42 AM »

Good to hear the museum recognizes the value of conserving the aircraft rather than "restoring" it.

I feel it's a grate shame many of the other types recovered in amazing condition from Russia in recient years are being restored rather than conserved.
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William G Torgerson

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #16 on: May 29, 2010, 12:43:08 AM »

Lend-Lease aircraft were turned over to Russian pilots at Wainwright AAF just outside of Fairbanks in central Alaska.  A number of planes were lost between Fairbanks and Nome (about 400 miles) but we didn't bother searching for them much since they were the Russians' problem then.

I've heard numerous rumors of squadrons of P-39s that set down on frozen lakes west of Fairbanks somewhere.  Come summer, the ice melted and the planes gently sank to the bottom in nice cold water, preserved perfectly.

Tim Smith 1142CE
AK SHPO (RET)

I grew up in Fairbanks in the 1950's and was a member of the C. A. P. Cadet Squadron there.  In the summer of 1956 we teamed with an A.F. H-21
chopper crew to paint all the identifiable AC wreaks to help eliminate them as 'possibles' during S. A. R. efforts.  I seem to remember that we found
and painted (yellow) a P-39.  It was still in Army 'colors' but we were given to understand that it was a Russian Lend-Leaser.  It it was down west
of Tanana and 20-25 miles north of the Yukon River.  I think that it got removed by the A. F.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2010, 06:27:59 AM »

I spent a couple of hours at the Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum (formerly the Niagara Aerospace Museum) looking at the P-39 Q that came up out of the Russian lake.



Full photo album from the visit.

It sounds as though the Museum has not made a definite decision about how to preserve and display the plane.  My friend and tour guide, Al Rowswell, has re-covered the rudder and elevators and renovated one piece of the fuselage as demonstrations.  The rudder and elevators could easily be stripped down again, but the work he did on the side panel is relatively permanent.
LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 09:13:34 PM by moleski »
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James G. Stoveken

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2010, 10:57:49 AM »

Very interesting, Marty.  Thanks for posting.  Was this a "behind the scenes" tour or does everyone have this kind of access at this museum?
Jim Stoveken
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2010, 12:58:04 PM »

Very interesting, Marty.  Thanks for posting.  Was this a "behind the scenes" tour or does everyone have this kind of access at this museum?

It was "behind the scenes."  I've known Al Rowswell for six or seven years and he is an A&P who volunteers at the museum.  We were up close and personal with all of the parts in the photographs.  The head of the museum invited us to squeeze the inner tube--I couldn't bring myself to do that, but there was no doubt whatsoever that it was pumped up and holding air when we walked in and turned on the lights in the workshop.

Come to think of it, the only parts I touched were the bottle full of oil (I was going to move it out of the picture until I read the label on it) and the inspection plate signed by Eleanor Barbaritano--I noticed another signature on that plate.  As far as we could tell, she signed it twice.  One signature and address is very clear; the other is almost illegible.

And I bumped into the open door on the right side of the fuselage.  Other than that, my policy was "look but don't touch."
LTM,

           Marty
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2010, 11:50:00 AM »

marty, was just looking through your pics, they are amazing! I could sit there for a week!  did they torch the ends of the prop off?? Did they know if thrown rods were mechanical failure or the result of enemy contact?? In my experience with hi performance automobile racing engines, two sets of rods thrown on the same end of the crank was usually due to oil starvation.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2010, 09:12:09 PM »

marty, was just looking through your pics, they are amazing!

It was an amazing experience to be there--"up close and personal," as ABC used to say.

Did they torch the ends of the prop off?

Not at Niagara Falls.  The two in contact with the ice and later the lake bed probably broke off on their own.  Photographs of the plane coming out of the water show one prop left, badly bent over the nose of the fuselage.  By the time the Ira G. Ross Aerospace Museum purchased the plane, the prop was gone (along with a few other items of interest, I believe; it seems to me that they had to purchase the log book separately).

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Did they know if thrown rods were mechanical failure or the result of enemy contact?? In my experience with hi performance automobile racing engines, two sets of rods thrown on the same end of the crank was usually due to oil starvation.

The plane was being flown back to a base in Siberia, I believe, after a tour of duty at the front (in Finland?).  The plane fell out of formation and disappeared when the flight was relatively close to home.  The pilot was accused in absentia of desertion.  After his body was found in the cockpit of the P-39 at the bottom of the lake, he was given a hero's burial.

So it seems that the thrown rods caused the plane to come down.  I haven't heard of any efforts to do an autopsy beyond that.

More details at the museum's own website.  I've been a little slow on the uptake.  They seem to have christened her "Miss Lend Lease."  My bad.   :(
LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 09:15:47 PM by moleski »
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2010, 08:16:12 AM »

hmm. with the plane in such pristine condition, the pilot must have made a good wheels up landing. I wonder what happened to him?? He was still in the cockpit so, maybe it flipped and trapped him?? I remember reading the article about the P38 dug out of the ice and how the pilot of the first plane to land did so wheels down and flipped it. he was able to dig his way out though.

in the article it says the pilot is credited with 7 aircraft kills in this plane. that's unreal! Also sad to think that a hero's plane was shipped back here instead of staying in Russia to be appreciated by them!
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2010, 11:45:52 AM »

hmm. with the plane in such pristine condition, the pilot must have made a good wheels up landing. I wonder what happened to him?? He was still in the cockpit so, maybe it flipped and trapped him??

As far as I know, they have not figured out what happened.  The air intake behind the cockpit is a little bit deformed, which might fit the "flipped over" possibility--but the canopy and the vertical stab aren't damaged at all.

The pilot died in the cockpit.  Was he waiting for rescue?  Injured in the landing?  Didn't see a better option?

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I remember reading the article about the P38 dug out of the ice and how the pilot of the first plane to land did so wheels down and flipped it. he was able to dig his way out though.

In the article, it says the pilot is credited with 7 aircraft kills in this plane. That's unreal! Also sad to think that a hero's plane was shipped back here instead of staying in Russia to be appreciated by them!

I have to tread carefully here.  My friends at the museum are happy and proud to have it, and I'm hoping that they will treat it with the utmost respect.  But I know what you mean.

If I understand what I've read correctly, the aircraft was discovered and recovered by a fellow who makes a living doing this (~50 aircraft recovered).  I guess he gets the necessary permits and sells to the highest bidder.  I'm not opposed to this myself.  "The workman is worth his wage" (1 Timothy 5:18).
LTM,

           Marty
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Daniel Paul Cotts

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #24 on: October 13, 2010, 10:10:49 PM »

http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/articles/sheppard/p39/index.htm

All we know is he was found at Lake Mart-Yavr, 29km SE of Luostari. He seems to have prepared for the force landing by unbuckling his harness and attempting to belly-land on the still thin winter ice. There was no attempt to escape the sinking P39 and it is possible he was either knocked out or killed instantly during the force landing.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #25 on: October 14, 2010, 06:59:28 AM »

http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/articles/sheppard/p39/index.htm

All we know is he was found at Lake Mart-Yavr, 29km SE of Luostari. He seems to have prepared for the force landing by unbuckling his harness and attempting to belly-land on the still thin winter ice. There was no attempt to escape the sinking P39 and it is possible he was either knocked out or killed instantly during the force landing.

Thanks for the great link, Dan!

The vertical stab (at least) came from another airframe with serial number 425*7, where * stands for an unknown digit, as you can see in these two photos.  The vertical stab is original; the covering on the rudder is new.



LTM,

           Marty
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« Last Edit: October 14, 2010, 07:03:10 AM by moleski »
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Kevin Weeks

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2010, 02:18:10 PM »

As far as I know, they have not figured out what happened.  The air intake behind the cockpit is a little bit deformed, which might fit the "flipped over" possibility--but the canopy and the vertical stab aren't damaged at all.
The pilot died in the cockpit.  Was he waiting for rescue?  Injured in the landing?  Didn't see a better option?

Quote
I have to tread carefully here.  My friends at the museum are happy and proud to have it, and I'm hoping that they will treat it with the utmost respect.  But I know what you mean.

If I understand what I've read correctly, the aircraft was discovered and recovered by a fellow who makes a living doing this (~50 aircraft recovered).  I guess he gets the necessary permits and sells to the highest bidder.  I'm not opposed to this myself.  "The workman is worth his wage" (1 Timothy 5:18).

I understand that aircraft flown by the US would come back here, and even less "significant" aircraft that were flown by other countries pilots would come to be appreciated here as well. I just can't really fathom that anyone but a true WWII fanatic or fellow pilot would appreciate the fact that the pilot who died behind the controls of that aircraft was a hero of the soviet union with 7 kills in that aircraft! I don't really know how the russians feel about their war heroes but I would imagine they would be more apt to appreciate it than us. Then the museum christening a plane "miss lend lease" when it had it's own war history. the museum might have the restoration and preservation aspect in very good consideration but I'd love it if I heard they were pushing the aircraft's actual history. For too long we have left out russia's contributions to WWII because of the cold war.
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James G. Stoveken

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #27 on: November 25, 2010, 12:26:09 PM »

Here's a LINK to a TV news item about this P-39.  Among other things, it touches a little on the signatures found on the airframe.
Jim Stoveken
 
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #28 on: November 25, 2010, 01:17:26 PM »

Here's a LINK to a TV news item about this P-39.  Among other things, it touches a little on the signatures found on the airframe.

I only had time to watch a few seconds, but it looks like a very nice video.  I hope to watch the whole thing later ...
LTM,

           Marty
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