Wednesday, January 20, 2010

WWII-Era Dive Bomber Discovered off South Maui

Very cool.

And it's reported to be in 'amazing' condition.

A Maui scuba tour operator may have made the dive of his life Wednesday when he found what appears to be the previously undocumented wreck of a World War II-era dive bomber off South Maui.

Brad Varney, owner of B&B Scuba Maui, said the aircraft appears to be a nearly intact Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless. Both canopies were open, with the plane's gauges clearly visible on the console, and the back flaps are down. The only part missing was the plane's top tail rudder, which Varney found resting on the sand not far from the wreck.

"I'm an old military history buff, and it's in very good shape for 70 years old," he said.

Varney would not immediately identify the location of the sunken aircraft, saying he wanted to make sure the site was protected and not stripped by looters. He said he was waiting for guidance from federal authorities on what to do next.

"Part of me wants to keep it a secret, but on the other hand, when this gets out, I don't want to see it desecrated," he said.


"I've gone to Chuuk Lagoon. I've gone to Palau to dive military wrecks, and this is in as good condition as any of them," he said. "It's amazing."

Varney said the wreck was an easy dive, but that the site probably had not been seen by anyone but local fishers because it was "off the beaten path," in an area not frequented by divers.

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