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Luftwaffe Ju 52 Discovered On The Bottom Of The Black Sea

Plane Disappeared 67 Years Ago On Transport Mission To The Eastern Front

A plane missing since 1942 has been discovered in about 75 feet of water in the Black Sea has been identified as a Ju 52 that vanished on a flight carrying Nazi personnel to the Eastern Front during WWII.

The plane was found off the coast of Ukraine near Odessa, but it was not the object of the diver's search, according to a report appearing in the U.K. newspaper The Mail. The team was looking for a Ju 88, but found the Ju 52 'Iron Annie' instead.

Underwater photographer Andrey Nekrasov, who photographed the wreckage, said part of the mystery is that there was no record of a Ju 52 accident in the area. Recovered artifacts include several pairs of boots, which suggests that at least some on the plane survived the initial impact. Standing orders were for passengers to remove their boots in the event of a water landing. There were also caps that suggest that one of the passengers had served in the Spanish Civil War.

Maps and flight records indicate that the flight had originated in Romania and was en route to Nikolaev in Ukraine. The flight was supposed to have been entirely over land, so no life rafts were on board. On the flight, the weather conditions apparently soured and the pilot, Lieutenant Horst Ringel, was in what would now be described as Instrument Meteorological Conditions.

Ringel requested permission to land in Spartakovka, Russia or Vygoda, Ukraine, but did not make it to either airport.

The plane was first discovered in 2009. The condition of the wreckage suggests that, rather than a crash, the pilot ditched the Ju 52 in the Black Sea. Those on board likely tried to swim to shore, but it is unknown whether any of the nine survived.

FMI: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_Ju_52

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