Group Hopes To Pull P-38 From UK Beach
Lost during a training mission in 1942, a Lockheed P-38 Lightning was first revealed by shifting sands at Gwynedd, UK, in 2007; now a recovery team aims extract the aircraft, in whole, from its partially submerged spot. The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) began looking after the aircraft when it was discovered three years ago. The aircraft was identified as the Maid of Harlech, which was flown by Second Lieutenant Robert Elliot. The Lieutenant walked away from the crash that eventually saw the aircraft buried, but was reported missing in action three months later while flying in Tunisia. His "Maid" is now thought to be one of the oldest surviving P-38 airframes. It is presumed to be USAAF serial number 41-7677. The restored P-38 Glacier Girl's number is 41-7630. As such, museums are in discussions with TIGHAR over hosting the "Maid". But removal of the seriously eroded airframe, from its sand-and-seawater home of 68 years, won't be easy.
"Museums have raised historic aircraft from salt water in good condition and at great expense only to see them crumble to white power in a matter of months," TIGHAR's Ric Gillespie told the Telegraph.co.uk. Gillespie said that "techniques for conserving and stabilizing metals recovered from nautical environments have been developed and tested, but have never been applied to complete aircraft." TIGHAR is working to develop a plan that would extract and preserve the aircraft, and is seeking funding to fulfill the task.