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Author Topic: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake  (Read 12256 times)

Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« on: August 01, 2009, 07:58:45 AM »

Coming soon to a museum near me, maybe:

Underwater for 55 years.

                Marty
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Tom Swearengen

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2009, 12:32:17 PM »

thoughts on any other B-25s in Lake Marion, or lake Moultre in South Carolina? I know tha tone was raised a couple of years ago, and there is one in a hanger at the old Owens Field in Columbia. Must be others around.
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #2 on: August 05, 2009, 12:17:11 AM »

Thoughts on any other B-25s in Lake Marion, or Lake Moultre in South Carolina? I know that one was raised a couple of years ago, and there is one in a hanger at the old Owens Field in Columbia. Must be others around.

Ric was saying at EPAC that Lake Michigan was fairly well stocked, too.

The Airacobra happened to catch my eye because it is probably headed for the aerospace museum in Buffalo.

                   Marty
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Timothy Alan Smith

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2009, 07:06:00 PM »

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
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Tim Collins

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #4 on: August 11, 2009, 07:13:07 AM »

Seems to me I read a book or saw a documentary, possibly about making of the trans-Alaskan highway, or something like that, and the mentioned that the route up to Alaska was known as the aluminum highway because of all of the crtashed planes. No idea as to the credibility of it though.

b
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Timothy Alan Smith

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #5 on: August 19, 2009, 06:21:14 PM »

Having lived there and studied the history for 25 years, I never heard of "the aluminum highway".  The Alaska-Canada Highway (or "Al-Can" as most people called it) was built as a strategic connection between the military bases in Alaska and the "Lower 48" in a remarkably short time early in WWII.  The airstrips along the route were pretty primitive and there were numerous losses.  Most anything near the road has long since been removed or salvaged.  There are a few interesting wrecks left in the Aleutians which canonly be reached by boat.
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Marc Dagenais

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2009, 11:04:30 AM »

Maybe 'aluminum highway' got derived from misinterpreting the term Al-Can.  AlCan (originally Aluminum Company of Canada) is a manufacturer of aluminum products.  ???

Marc
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Tim Collins

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2009, 11:19:01 AM »

Could be, it certainly makes sense. But I distinctly remember the explanation given regarded crashes of a high number of planes being ferried to Alaska. I'll see if I can find that book.

t
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Monty Fowler

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2009, 08:28:46 PM »

Arctic War Planes: Alaska Aviation of WW II, Stephen E. Mills, 1978:

"Graveyard of Aircraft
Million Dollar Valley of Crashes
Chapter 4, p. 73

"... On one occasion, two squadrons of B-26 Marauders headed north from California and one month later, the first plane arrived in Fairbanks. Many of the planes crashed in a mountain pocket northwest of Watson Lake, Yukon Territory, that became known as 'Million Dollar Valley.' When the last of the twin-engine bombers arrived in Fairbanks, 45 days since the start north, a total of 13 had failed to make it."
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Monty Fowler

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2009, 08:42:37 PM »

Another tidbit (yes, I am an Aleutian Theater geek), from The Thousand Mile War, World War II in Alaska and the Aleutians, Brian Garfield, 1969.

- p. 86 "As early as 1928 an Alaskan engineer, Donald MacDonald, had mapped out a practical 'Alcan' (Alaska-Canada) Highway route: ..."

- p. 177 "The crews had fought summer mosquitoes and -70 degree winter temperatures to bring in the 'Oil Can Highway' (so-called because of the thousands of empty oil drums discarded along the right-of-way in the rush for completion)..."
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Tim Collins

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #10 on: August 24, 2009, 07:08:20 AM »

Hmmm, that second quote is awfully familiar, but I don't remember reading that book or even being necessarily interested in that topic.  I do remember something distinctly about crashed aircraft. I'll keep looking.

t
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #11 on: August 24, 2009, 09:40:22 AM »

- p. 86 "As early as 1928 an Alaskan engineer, Donald MacDonald, had mapped out a practical 'Alcan' (Alaska-Canada) Highway route: ..."

- p. 177 "The crews had fought summer mosquitoes and -70 degree winter temperatures to bring in the 'Oil Can Highway' (so-called because of the thousands of empty oil drums discarded along the right-of-way in the rush for completion)..."

I love the play on "Al-Can" and "Oil Can" highway.  Brilliant!

Stats in this book suggest that more planes crashed on the Alaskan route than any other transport route: 104 in Alaska and the Aleutians + 24 in Western Canada vs 58 in Greenland and nearby (p. 150).

              Marty
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Tim Collins

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #12 on: August 24, 2009, 10:48:33 AM »

It might have been Heath Twichell's Northwest Epic : The Building of the Alaska Highway. (New York: St Martin's Press, 1992).

t
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #13 on: May 27, 2010, 07:25:43 PM »

Coming soon to a museum near me, maybe:

Underwater for 55 years.

I saw a short article in the Buffalo News this week that they plan to preserve the aircraft in the condition in which it was found rather than trying to restore it to mint condition.
LTM,

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James G. Stoveken

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Re: P-39 Airacobra found in Russian lake
« Reply #14 on: May 27, 2010, 08:47:09 PM »

Quote
I saw a short article in the Buffalo News this week that they plan to preserve the aircraft in the condition in which it was found rather than trying to restore it to mint condition.

And that should make for some very happy TIGHARs.
Jim Stoveken
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