A team of Greek scuba divers have discovered wreckage from a WW2 German warplane at a depth of 60m in Faliro Bay, south-west of Athens.
The divers from the Addicted2H2O technical team had been following up on the discovery of a partial aircraft wreck in the same part of the Saronic Gulf 10 years ago. Now they want to determine whether the new wreck-site is that of the missing part of that plane – or another aircraft altogether.
They found the wreck on 27 December when, after sonar-scanning had proved unsuccessful, two nearby fishermen tipped them off about a site teeming with fish. They decided to dive straight away to investigate.
Two divers initially explored the wreck for 35 minutes using closed-circuit rebreathers. After reporting that they had found the remains of a military aircraft, they were followed down by two other divers on open circuit to collect further photographs and video footage.
After identifying fragments of the main and tail fuselage, a wing and scattered smaller pieces including a fuel canister and fragment of netting, the team concluded that the remains could have been caught in a trawl-net and dragged to the site from another wreck.
WW2 wreck historian and diver Dimitris Galon later analysed the evidence, and believes that the wreckage is part of a Junkers Ju52, a three-engined transport plane mass-produced to support German army operations during the war, notably at the battles of Crete in 1941 and Leros in 1943.
During the German occupation of Greece the Luftwaffe had its base of operations in Faliro Bay. A Junkers Ju52 “Iron Annie” with the production number 7098 is recorded as having crash-landed in the vicinity o0f the wreck-site shortly after take-off on 28 November, 1943.
“This is new wreckage that had never been discovered or seen before,” Erikos Kranidiotis, one of the CCR divers, confirmed to Divernet. “This is clear, because the 2013 wreck has not changed today compared to when it was discovered.” The array of individual items found at the earlier site had also remained unaltered, he said.
“More importantly, the aircraft discovered back in 2013 was not whole – in fact half of it, pieces of the main, rear fuselage and a wing, among other things, was missing.”
The new find is therefore either the other half of that aircraft or part of a different Ju52 altogether, says Kranidiotis. “Unless one finds the plane’s identification tag, which is located on the exterior of the aircraft on the port side near the pilot’s seat, both scenarios are equally possible.
“Since the Luftwaffe flew many sorties over the years in which the Germans occupied Greece, it’s not highly unlikely that we’re talking about wreckage of an entirely different aircraft. What is certain is that we will need to further our investigations in the hope of discovering more clues.”
The Addicted2H2O dive-team, who regularly dive caves and mines as well as a wide variety of wrecks, plan to revisit the aircraft site in the coming months.
Apart from difficulties synchronising time out from their day-jobs “the only challenge during wintertime is finding a weekend during which the sea is calm,” said Kranidiotis. ”Bad weather and rough seas prevent us from going out.”
His fellow-divers were Stelios Stamatakis, Alexandros Lykos and Ioannis Simiridis, with surface support from Vasilis Adamopoulos and Marios Papavasileiou and back-up by the Diver’s Corner dive-centre.
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