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Szczecin Lagoon. Scientists are getting closer to accurately locating the wreckage of the B-17G bomber

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At the bottom of the Szczecin Lagoon, Polish and German scientists managed to locate several places where the remains of an American B-17G bomber shot down at the end of World War II may lie. However, there is no money to undertake archaeological work. – Really large funds are needed – explains the director of the Museum of Polish Arms in Kołobrzeg, Aleksander Ostasz.

Plane wreck it was located in August 2022 during the deepening of the waterway. More than 100 tons of artefacts were excavated from the bottom of the lagoon, including American B-17 bomber engine. Thanks to the use of specialized equipment, places where other parts of this machine may be located have also been selected

– We know what and where it is, but to undertake archaeological work, really large funds are needed. Heavy equipment is needed here – said the director of the Museum of Polish Arms in Kołobrzeg, Aleksander Ostasz, during the Wednesday press conference.

In October 2022, the plane crash site was examined by specialists from German. This is specialized equipment for underwater research, which is usually used, among others, in in oil exploration. The works were carried out from the board of the Echo 2 measuring vessel, a vessel used, among others, for to conduct hydrographic surveys in sea and inland waters and to search for wrecks at sea. For the first time in Poland, the latest six-transducer sub-bottom profiler was used, i.e. a specialized device that allows for accurate penetration of the bottom of the tank and searching for objects hidden in sand and silt.

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At the end of the year, thanks to cooperation with the Maritime University of Technology, magnetometric measurements were also carried out. It was even possible to create a 3D film of the B-17 wreckage area.

Everything indicates that after a painstaking search, the remaining parts of the B-17G bomber, shot down in October 1944, have just been found.

Image from sonar during research on the Szczecin LagoonMuseum of Polish Arms in Koszalin

– After testing with the use of a bottom sediment profiler, we were able to assess that these are any elements. This device detects any material, but after using the magnetometer of the Maritime University of Technology, we were able to select only those that are metal – emphasized Paweł Mikołajewski from the Escort company, adding that there may be from a dozen to several dozen similar elements in the surveyed area.

During the work carried out in the vicinity of the remains of the American bomber, another wreck was found – a watercraft. It is most likely steel, quite large, 37 meters long and 9.5 meters wide. It is not yet known what period this vessel comes from or what was the reason for its sinking.

The bottom of the Szczecin Lagoon hides many secrets. Only during the raid on the synthetic fuels factory in Police, a total of seventeen machines were shot down. So it is very likely that at least some of them lie at the bottom of the tank.

Main goal: find and bury the missing

The B-17G bomber with airframe number 44-8046 of the 457th Bomb Group of the United States Air Force was shot down over the Szczecin Lagoon on October 7, 1944. The plane led a formation of 149 B-17 bombers, and their target was the aforementioned synthetic gasoline factory in Police.

– It was the last and only factory that supplied fuel for the vehicles of the Third Reich, which is why the Germans defended it very much – said Ostasz.

Equipped with the most modern radar and electronics at the time, the B-17 was to guide the rest of the bombers and use flares to indicate the target. It was important because the factory in Police was masked by the Germans with smoke.

There were eleven crew members on board the machine: eight of them were officers and the other three were senior NCOs. Five airmen survived the crash and were taken prisoner, the bodies of three were identified and buried. Three crew members are still missing today. Talks are underway with the American side, which is interested in excavating the wreckage and giving a dignified burial to the three soldiers considered missing

Main photo source: Museum of Polish Arms in Koszalin

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