Resurfaced P-38 May Be World’s Oldest


Investigators and historians have confirmed that an aircraft wreck that emerged from the sands of a Wales beach over the summer is a P-38 Lightning, not an unmanned drone as first reports indicated. Ric Gillespie, executive director of The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), visited the wreck last month and was able to positively identify it from a serial number. He said it may be the oldest P-38 in existence and the oldest surviving 8th Air Force combat aircraft of any type. “In that respect it’s a major find, of exceptional interest to British and American aviation historians,” he told The Associated Press. The P-38 was built in 1941, reached Britain in early 1942, and flew combat missions along the Dutch-Belgian coast, according to the AP. Second Lt. Robert F. “Fred” Elliott, 24, of Rich Square, N.C., ditched in the shallow water near the beach after running out of fuel. Shifting sands covered the wreck, and its location was forgotten until erosion uncovered it this year.

Gillespie plans to lead a team to excavate the airplane in the spring. Meanwhile, sands have covered it again, helping to keep its location secret from anyone who might disturb the wreck.