- On 01/05/2014
- In Airplane Stories
From Nigerian Tribune
The Luftwaffe plane was found at the bottom of the Black Sea by a team of divers nearly 70 years after it vanished mid-flight.
The fate of the aircraft and its nine crew members had remained a mystery since it was reported missing in 1942.
Underwater photographer Andrey Nekrasov, 42, was part of the team which found the wreckage 23 metres beneath the surface off the Ukrainian coast, near Odessa.
The divers made the discovery while searching for a different plane.
Instead of finding the JU 88 they were expecting, they found a JU 52 ‘Iron Annie’, a type used extensively as a transporter aircraft by the Luftwaffe during the war.
Since the discovery, researchers have attempted to piece together the fate of the plane and its crew.
Mr Nekrasov said: ‘There were no records of a crashed plane of this type in this area.
‘The wreckage was very deep down so visibility was poor. We could only see three metres in front of us at any time.
‘A plane on the seabed always looks very strange. It turned out the story behind this one was even stranger.’
Using these items, Mr Nekrasov and his team determined the wreck was a transport flight carrying nine passengers which had been reported missing in early 1942, at a time when the Soviet Army had been on the offensive on the Eastern Front.
Mr Nekrasov said: ‘We have tried to recreate the whole picture of the events using just a couple of artefacts which were 70 years old and found at the bottom of the sea.’
Records from the time showed that the plane was carrying a flight engineer called Johann Wichert - the owner of the thermos and belt.
A signaller called Karl Kroch was also on board, returning to the Russian front after a period of leave
Also aboard was an observer, Oberstleutnant Baron Axel Freiherr von Jena, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War and a possible owner of the cap.
Flight records found inside the cockpit reveal the JU 52 was en-route to Nikolaev in Ukraine, having flown from Romania.