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(CJ Online)   WWII fighter plane sitting on bottom of Lake Michigan for 47 years takes flight   ( divider line
    More: Spiffy  
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17340 clicks; posted to Main » on 02 May 2004 at 6:09 PM (13 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

49 Comments     (+0 »)
2004-05-02 02:13:04 PM  
Is there a Grumman Wildcat in existance that is NOT wearing Butch O'Hare's markings?

Damn glad to see another vintage aircraft take to the air, just quibbling about the owner's lack of imagination...
2004-05-02 02:26:22 PM  
That's awesome.
2004-05-02 06:15:51 PM  
Until the military tries to take it back like that other guy's
2004-05-02 06:16:02 PM  
wish there was more on the restoration job...
2004-05-02 06:17:29 PM  
The Iraq war is getting desperate if they are dredging up 60 year old planes from lakes. Maybe the Germans have some old Zeppelins they could sell.
2004-05-02 06:22:07 PM  
As God-- mentioned, why hasn't the Navy tried to take the plane back? They sure were asshats about the other one.

Now I have to go find that article...
2004-05-02 06:22:58 PM  
The navy had a makeshift aircraft carrier in Lake Michigan during WW2,to train pilots on carrier landing. lots of them screwed up,and missed. so there were quite a few planes down there. The lake is very deep,and cold,which prevented a lot of corrosion. many of these planes have since been pulled up and restored.
2004-05-02 06:24:16 PM  
Wow. Must have been very little structural damage, and the waters low alkalinity/low oxygen would have kept the metal from rotting away after all these years. Plus the deep cold.
I'm not an expert, or even try to pretend to be one, but isn't there a sunken American warship from the war of 1812 at the bottom of Lake Michigan or Lake Erie? The "Gryphon"?
From what I remember it's in perfect condition, almost as good as the day it sank.
2004-05-02 06:24:22 PM  
+1 wondering why some branch of the military hasn't demanded the return of "their" property...
2004-05-02 06:25:41 PM  
My second favorite WWII fighter, right after the Corsair. Wonder what kind of shape it was in/what they had to do to get her to break the surly bonds of Earth one more time?
2004-05-02 06:26:13 PM  
Very spiffy, but not as cool as Glacier Girl.
2004-05-02 06:27:45 PM  
Now THAT'S how an article should be.

MSN and others, please take note.
2004-05-02 06:28:01 PM  
That's friggin awesome.

I wonder if they used the original engine, or was it beyond repair? I'd imagine that ditching the plane in fresh water was perhaps the primary reason it was restorable.

By the way...wasn't there a Fark article a few months ago about an F4U Corsair that some guy pulled out of a swamp and rebuilt? Anybody know what happend to that thing, and if he had to give the fighter up to the gov't?
2004-05-02 06:28:31 PM  
At least it's not a Brewster Buffalo. What a complete turkey.

An embarassment to anyone involved in the development of this fighter.

Especially the entire town of Warminster, PA. If Warminster ever wanted to put up a WWII memorial, the inscription should read "Sorry About All That."
2004-05-02 06:29:38 PM  
Well, it looks like some people already beat me to mentioning the Corsair, so there's no point in commenting.

/but did anyway.
2004-05-02 06:30:45 PM  
Nice plane!
2004-05-02 06:31:21 PM  
Farkologist: They did have to get Navy permission to salvage them.I seem to remember that the had Navy help to recover them. At least one recovered had been flown in combat at Midway,so it was historically very significant. Most are in museums.
2004-05-02 06:32:49 PM  
I won't bore you with the whole thing but this is the first thing that came to my mind.

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee'
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy
With a load of iron ore twenty-six thousand tons more
Than the Edmund Fitzgerald weighed empty.
That good ship and true was a bone to be chewed
When the gales of November came early.

Whole link to the song is here if anyone is really interested:​nd_Fitzg erald.htm
2004-05-02 06:34:27 PM  
From Google Groups:

The aircraft was recovered from 240 feet of water about 30 miles east of
Chicago on December 1, 1991. It was just 68 days old when Navy pilot George
Hahn lost it off the USS Sable on June 21, 1943. Hahn is a resident of
Arizona and plans to see his old plane in Oshkosh this month.

Interestingly enough, the Wildcat was well preserved after 48 years in
Lake Michigan. At the time it was raised, there was air in the left tire,
oil in the tank, coolant and hydraulic fluid in the lines. The pilot's
oxygen bottle still contained 2,000 psi, and just 10 of more than 3,000
screws on the airframe had to be replaced.

Furthermore... When power was applied to the fuel pump soon after the
plane came out of the lake, it turned over and spit out fuel and water.
The electric motors that control the attitude of the landing lights
worked perfectly. The original battery eventually accepted a full
recharge after it was cleaned and dried. The original carburetor was used
in the refurbished Pratt & Whitney R-1830-86. The hand-cranked
gear-retraction system worked on the first try.
2004-05-02 06:34:45 PM  
Now I'm no pilot but I bet an airplane does'nt fly too well when it's on the bottom of a lake. Silly pilot fellas!!!


My Grandpa flew Lancasters during WWII and he mentions these planes as being "spares". Meaning that when the RAF or RCAF requested addition escorts from the Americans they would send these or if they were free the Corsairs.
2004-05-02 06:34:58 PM  
From Free Advice -

The United States has taken the position, and it is generally accepted in maritime law, that a sovereign government never abandons its vessels or aircraft. Thus, whenever a military wreck is discovered, whether it be a vessel or a plane, the United States still asserts its ownership interest. However, in a recent Federal Court case involving salvage rights to a submerged World War II Navy plane allegedly in 500 feet of water less than one mile off the coast of Miami the court rejected the Navy's claim and sided with the private salvor. This was an important case for those interested in salvaging the many scattered World War II Navy planes on the bottoms of Lake Michigan and Lake Washington.
2004-05-02 06:45:25 PM  
Gonna grab my snorkle and flippers and get me one of those.
2004-05-02 06:46:11 PM  
Thanks Dorf 11

Ah good, now the military bastards cant just come in after some historian buff has restored the plane and say thanks very much, we'll be having that. Our fricken tax dollars. If its such a damn important plane why dont they find it themselves instead of bullying people into giving it back who are interested in preserving history. power mad sons of biatches.
2004-05-02 06:51:40 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
"It *belongs* in a museum!"
2004-05-02 06:57:56 PM  
Can someone explain what it means to strafe?

/read the article.
2004-05-02 07:00:37 PM  
Srafe = blow the hell out of with automatic weapons fire
2004-05-02 07:04:31 PM  
kolacky: Thanks. Not surprised they hauled it up in decent shape, but that was pretty amazing.
2004-05-02 07:05:11 PM  
:) Thanks for the explaination, bogey!
2004-05-02 07:13:28 PM  
Strafe means shooting at ground targets. That's to differentiate it from firing air-to-air at another plane.

The Finns loved the Brewster Buffalo, they used their few to great effect against the Russians.
2004-05-02 07:15:42 PM  

See above. Bogey gave you an inaccurate answer;-)
2004-05-02 07:17:29 PM  
Anyone see the Discovery Wings Documentary where some guys extracted a P-38 out of a glacier, and restored it to flying condition? Amazing stuff.
2004-05-02 07:19:54 PM  
So if you shoot a missile at a ground target is that strafing? Stir both of our answers together and you get a proper definition.
2004-05-02 07:23:13 PM  
Fine, you're right, I should have said MG/cannon, it doesn't mean bombs or missiles.

strafe ( P ) Pronunciation Key (strf)
tr.v. strafed, strafing, strafes

To attack (ground troops, for example) with a machine gun or cannon from a low-flying aircraft.
2004-05-02 07:23:31 PM  
Is the kid mentioned at the beginning of the article the one that supposedly has the WWII pilot's soul in him?
2004-05-02 07:24:04 PM  
The article I posted form Google Groups may not be about the same aircraft. I found 6 Wildcats that were salvaged from Lake Michigan and restored in the 90's
2004-05-02 07:28:23 PM  
They are different aircraft afterall.
This Wildcat is BuNO 12260 and the Google one is BuNO 12296.
2004-05-02 07:31:34 PM  
Thanks to vossiewulf, too! Now, what the pilot was talking about at the end of article makes more sense to me.
2004-05-02 07:43:58 PM  
There were TWO aircraft carriers in lake Michigan, the Sable and the Wolverine. Converted colliers or ferry boats with decks built atop them, they had no elevators or hangar spaces, they were just tiny floating runways for takeoff and landing practice. George Bush the elder trained on one. The planes took off from Glenview naveal air station (now a housing development) after the carriers left Navy Pier and steamed out into the lake. Planes would then make multiple landings and takeofsf until they had to go back to the land to re-fuel. After the war, there was an attempt to make one of the carriers a tourist attraction/ monument, but while it was docked, corrupt (in Chicago? I can't believe it!) security guards let thieves and looters sneak aboard and steal so much of the ship's parts, there wasn't enough left to be of use. So they were towed East and scrapped.

I learned all of this from a kewel exhibit they used to have in the lobby of Miegs Field. Gigantic model of the ship, very detailed, lots of pictures. Another corrupt pirate took the whole airport away. Recently, there was that retired British carrier for sale on E-bay: had I won the super lotto, I fantasized I could tow that sucker 200 yards off Northerly Island, anchor it, and spray 16-foot letters spelling "fark you, Daley" on the side facing Lake Shore Drive.
2004-05-02 07:46:34 PM  
strafing: that's when you hold down the ctrl key so you can side-step, and point where you want -- or just use A and D like everybody that's not a communist.

2004-05-02 08:29:52 PM  
James_Maybrick: You're thinking of the Hamilton and the Scourge, which are still in amazing condition at the bottom of Lake Ontario. It's amazing how well-preserved they are - their masts are still erect (insert witty quip here)...
2004-05-02 09:51:33 PM  
Thanks WombatControl.

I couldn't remember the names, and I think I saw a brief blip about them on TVOntario a couple of years ago.

I'll go and Google some info on them now.


2004-05-03 01:09:50 AM  
That's very cool. They were not the most effective of aircraft, but it's still very cool.

And the fuel pump still worked... fark me to tears... my damn Subaru fuel pump has died TWICE in 2 years! Farking SUBARU!
2004-05-03 01:12:02 AM  
That is cool. There is no aircraft that I know of that inspire more romatic memories than those from WWII. And really cool that it flew again. Man, that is the best. What a feeling that must have been to start it up, and take off the runway after it being lost for so many years. Would have gave me chills.

Great story.
2004-05-03 02:51:41 AM  
It would be a dream to fly one of those. Finally an article includes pics and stats.

/Still waiting to salvage his own PBY Catalina for the ultimate surf trip vehicle.
2004-05-03 02:54:10 AM  
The Brewster Buffalo was quite a capable aircraft, only the specs changed and with the extra weight performance suffered. The major constraint at the time was engine development. The best engines available at the time did not have the performance. The Japanese Zero outperformed the Brewster and other models because it lacked armor and had a shorter range. It was powered by a clone of this engine.

By the end of the war, much better engines were available, including the Wasp Major, the most powerful non-jet aircraft engine ever made.
2004-05-03 04:53:43 AM  

Fascinating read about the Brewster... thanks!
2004-05-03 06:53:09 AM  
The Buffalo got a bad rap as an overweight piece of junk, solely because of the changes the Navy demanded to the design. It wasn't meant to carry five pieces of armor plate, a life raft, 400 gallons of fuel, and a lot of other crap that got stuffed into the design.

Heck, even Pappy Boyington like the early, lighter models--the F2A-1 and F2A-2, which were close to the B-239 the Finns made good use of. I can't post what he said here, 'cause the censor would kill it, but suffice to say he thought it was a sweet little plane that could turn in a phonebooth.
2004-05-03 08:15:02 AM  
You mean the Japanese Navy shot this plane down in Lake Michigan? Damn French-Canadians let em' in there didn't they.
2004-05-03 05:06:35 PM  
Rather have a Ta 152 H but its great to see an old warbird given a second chance.
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