Paper No. 15
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


HUNT, Adrian P., Flying Heritage Collection, 3407 109th St. SW, Everett, WA 98204 and LUCAS, Spencer G., New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain Road N.W, Albuquerque, NM 87104,

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, many WWII aircraft in relatively good condition have been located and recovered from Russia. Because of a variety of factors, principally Lead Lease and the number of combatant nations, these wrecks represent aircraft that originated in a variety of countries, including the USSR, Germany, Japan, USA, UK and France. The recovery of these wrecks has a bimodal distribution. The first series of recoveries date from 1990 to 1998 were of readily findable or/and well documented aircraft. The second crop of recoveries (1999 to 2008) represents concerted efforts to locate additional wrecks in more remote areas.

The preservation of an abundance of wrecks is the result of: (1) the extent of the aerial combat; (2) low population density; and (3) favorable preservational environments.

The aircraft are principally from four areas in Russia. Axis (essentially German in the west and Japanese in the east) and Allied aircraft occur in the: (1) northwest; (2) west-central; (3) southwest; and (4) east. Northwest localities (e.g., St. Petersburg to Murmansk) occur in a variety of environments including tundra, forest, lake and swamp. Low temperatures provide for excellent preservation and notable recoveries have included a P-40C Tomahawk, an Fw 190A-5 Würger and an Il-2M3 Shturmovik, all now on display at the Flying Heritage Collection in Everett, Washington, as well as several Bf 109s and an Fw 189. West-central localities include forests, lakes and swamps and have yielded Il-2 Shturmoviks. Most southwest localities are in swamps. In the east, Japanese aircraft, including several Ki-43 Oscars, have been recovered from the Kuril Islands. The proximity of these aircraft to marine shorelines results in relatively increased corrosion because of saline conditions. This is also the case on most Pacific islands. New Guinea is a notable exception because of its large land area and high interior elevations.

WWII planes are important in aviation archeology because they are transitional between WWI biplanes and Korean War/modern jets in various aspects including: (1) materials – wood and linen to metal; (2) structure – internal frame to monocoque; (3) power plant – piston engine to jet; and (4) speed - <100 mph to >500 mph.