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USS Lexington found by Paul Allen

Amazing! The fact that I am building a Coral Sea Devastator makes it all even better!

1 additional image. Click to enlarge.

39 responses

  1. Wow...thanks for posting this. Very interesting reading!

  2. Now this is very cool !

    The planes look like they are in remarkably good condition considering how long they have been underwater. It has to be the depth of the water that has somewhat preserved them. I have seen pictures and actual planes that have been recovered from salt water, and it's not pretty ! Magnesium parts suffer the worst... and practically dissolve.

    Great pictures Rob.

    • I wonder if has something to do with the lack of oxygen. The further you go down or the deeper. Helps preserve some of the plane. Yeah, anything with Magnesium dissolves. I've noticed that the engine mounts have broken on both the TBD and on a Wildcat. They don't always do that if you find the a/c in fresh water ...such as in Lake Michigan in the states. I wonder if they had Magnesium in the fittings or the tubes.

      Was watching a special on the Arizonan and the National Parks service was doing a inventory of the ship to see how long it would last. How fast was the steel corroding using R.O.V.s ...little mini subs with camera's and they came upon a suit hanging from a hanger intact in some officers quarters. It was still in one piece. A little dirty from all of the sentiment and being in the water for 75yrs.

      • It very well could be due to the lack of oxygen. Plus the sunlight doesn't reach down that far so the colors are probably close to how they originally were.

        I saw that special on the Arizona. It was very informative and answered some questions.

  3. Just amazing.

  4. Since the lightening holes in the TBD wings show as covered in period pictures I wonder if they were fabric covered and then rotted away?

  5. Rob, that's amazing, like the comments above, I'm fascinated by the preservation of the paint. Good stuff !

  6. OK, so who else saw the serial numbers and immediately began thinking about reproducing them for a build?

    • That's what I was thinking too. 🙂

      I didn't see the serial numbers but I did count 3 planes.
      T-4, T-5, and T-9. T-4 was upside down.

      • Would indeed be an interesting build! So far I came up with the serial numbers for VT-2 Devastators aboard Lexington that day as follows: 0271, 0273, 0275, 0290, 0291, 0300, 0313, 0320, 0339, 0345, 1514, 1516. Not sure though if I am able to match these s/n to the suqadron's plane numbers.

        • I have a book that lists all of the bureau numbers for the TBD's. It also has more information about what units the plane started with and its final disposition. I'll have to dig it out and see if I can match any fuselage side numbers to the bureau numbers you presented Boris.

          Wouldn't that be cool if we could determine the bureau numbers of these planes in the pictures ?

          It would definitely be a worthwhile build.

          I think that Lynn Ritger has a website that also has a large amount of information on the TBD's.

          Here's the link if anyone is interested.

  7. Just saw these and other photos in a online newspaper here. Amazing how well these planes are preserved. Almost look like fronzen on t8me, or better, from some modelers project.
    One photo even shows 4 jap flags under the cockpit, all amazingly preserved

  8. Wow. Fantastic news. RIP to all who passed away.

  9. Hello Rob,

    Just read the news on a Dutch Navy Site.
    Like mentioned above, fantastic that divers located the carrier.
    The pictures are really sharp.
    Regards, Dirk

  10. I also came across the article in the last day or two. Remarkable story.

  11. Wahou. Fantastic pictures.
    It is a great news.


  12. Wow! It's fantastic that they #1) found it, and #2) things are so well preserved!

  13. This is remarkable find. Look at those planes.

  14. How many TBDs are preserved? One at Pensacola? Given the depth, is it possible to raise one or all of these?

    • The ship went down with "approximately" 11 TBD's on board from it's normal contingent of 12 planes. Bureau number 0273 was lost due to a lack of fuel after returning from it's last mission. They ditched approximately 20 miles from the Lexington, and the crew was never recovered. This is what I found out from my TBD book by Steve Ginter.

      I saw three planes, but I seriously doubt a recovery could be done considering the depth they are at (almost two miles down). Normally they will send down a team of divers to attach the lifting devices and air bags to the aircraft. These divers monitor it as they raise it. Here again a ROV could possibly be used to observe the lifting process.

      If they could raise these planes using a manned submersible craft, it "possibly" could be done, but again, I'm just guessing here.

      Personally, I would love to see them raised. But salt water and airplanes don't mix very well. They would have to immediately start the preservation process once it hits air.

      But there is another thing to consider:

      Is this a War Grave now ? If so, the chances of getting permission that would allow them to recover the planes (if indeed it could be done), would be slim to zero.

      What a buzz kill ...

  15. The paint I just laid down on my Monogram TBD (given the lighting and water effect) looks pretty close!

  16. Rob this is incredibly great news. Thanks for sharing the article and video. What is amazing is how clear and vivid the colors are. Even one of the men pointing out the the rifling on one the 5 inch cannon. This is great news can't add more to what has already been said. Just thank the Lord for preserving a bit of history. I have chills just watching the video. Thanks for sharing this.

  17. I'm impressed with the photos quality and how preserved the painting is on the aircrafts.

  18. A great find indeed. It's probably considered a war grave. should be respected, although I don't know what could be done to stop salvaging if some decided to do that. That Wildcat with Felix caught my eye. Thanks for posting it.

  19. I tried to view the photos on the TBD site; sadly, most of the links go nowhere.
    Either that, or I wasn't doing things right, but I kept getting a 404 error message and "page not found"
    The few photos I could see were good

  20. It's an amazing find, I read about it on the BBC website.

  21. Some ideas for a Lady-lex GB next year or so 🙂

  22. No TBDs in museums and now these pictures! Sure they're two miles down but a far heavier piece of the Titanic was brought up from a similar depth! Restore one for a museum while making copies of parts for a flier!

  23. Oh wait! Paul Allen's name is attached! I bet we WILL have a Devestator gracing our skies eventually!

    • Now that would work for me !

    • Not sure any of them could be returned to flying status, even with the deep water the corrosion to the more susceptible components such as magnesium will have major structural integrity issues. Now raising and restoring ones for a museum, if you stabilize the paint, the metal parts and such could happen. Corrosion will start rapidly once the aircraft hits warmer more oxygen rich water, and really take off once it hits the air. I was reading on the "other" modeling site, that there are ways to stabilize the whole process though. One interesting idea put forth that I kinda like is to place one as is in some form of water filled tank, deprived of oxygen of course so you could see them in their original state. Now wouldn't that be something!

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