The wreck of a Flying Fortress bomber shot down by Messerschmitt fighters during the Second World War has been found lying on the seabed off the coast of Sicily.
The B-17, nicknamed Devils from Hell by its nine-man crew, was discovered by divers at a depth of 245ft (75 metres), around four miles from the port of Palermo in southern Italy.
The discovery was the result of months of detective work, with historians and amateur divers matching official wartime records with the accounts of elderly Sicilians who still remember the raid.
The aircraft was located by a group of amateur divers who are part of a project called “Shadows of the Deep”, which aims to locate the wrecks of planes and boats off Sicily.
Described by one Italian newspaper as the “Indiana Jones’s of the sea”, they were helped by a sonar scan carried out by a diving unit of the Italian fire brigade.
“The wreck was found a few months ago thanks to the help of the fire service. Our job was to dive down and try to identify it,” said Riccardo Cingillo, one of the divers.
It took several attempts – when they first dived down to the wreck, visibility was poor. Eventually they were able to find and photograph serial numbers on the engines and in the cockpit which enabled a positive identification.