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Wreckage recovered by Waterford fishermen from US WWII bomber

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  • Wreckage recovered by Waterford fishermen from US WWII bomber

    Wreckage recovered by Waterford fishermen from US WWII bomber

    By Jamie O’Keeffe

    It’s now almost certain that the aircraft wreckage found off the south coast by a Waterford trawler nearly three weeks ago is from an American B24 bomber reported to have crashed near the Blasket Islands during World War II.

    Experts in the Department of Transport’s air accident investigation unit, who’ve been examining the large piece of fuselage, are satisfied that it’s part of the undercarriage from a US navy ‘Liberator’.

    Avon Turr

    The 9ft piece of wheel leg - marked with the military code number 32F583 - was discovered and brought to the surface by Waterford-based beam trawler the ‘Avon Turr’ 66 miles southwest of the Old Head of Kinsale and 89 miles southeast of Hook Head on Wednesday, April 6th. It was taken back to the north wharf that Friday and subsequently transferred to Dublin by lorry to be handed over to the Department.

    Skipper of the 38-metre fishing vessel, Ballyhack man Michael Myler, told how he and his crew lifted their nets from a depth of about 90 metres to find they’d snagged the 3-metre piece of silver fuselage.

    Initially they thought it was connected to the 1968 Tuskar Rock tragedy. However, this was ruled out as all 3 sections of the undercarriage of the ill-fated Aer Lingus Viscount, the St Phelim, were recovered. The other possibility was that it may have been from the Air India jumbo jet blown up 110 miles off the Cork coast 20 years ago.

    However, aviation historian Tony Kearns says its likely origin was a US navy Liberator shot down on February 26, 1944, about 10 miles south of where the undercarriage was retrieved. With the tyres still attached, it’s quite possible it drifted along the seabed to where it was found.

    A lot of military aircraft went down in the Celtic Sea during the second World War. Allied aircraft flying back from Germany travelled over Ireland’s south coast before landing in Devon, a key location for airbases.


    Tony has confirmed that the plane in question was based at Dunkeswell in Devon with an anti-submarine unit. During an anti-submarine patrol, it was attacked by a Junkers Ju 88, a fighter version of the famous Luftwaffe bomber. The German fighter inflicted severe damage forcing the Liberator to crash into the sea, but the Liberator’s gunner in turn succeeded in forcing the Ju 88 to do likewise.

    More than 19,000 Liberators were produced in America by Consolidated Vultee, Ford Motor Company, Douglas Aircraft and North American Aircraft between 1939 and 1945.
    "Dwight D. Eisenhower: The best morale exists when you never hear the word mentioned. When you hear it it's usually lousy.