Maui diver finds World War II wreckage - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Maui diver finds World War II wreckage

Brad Varney Brad Varney

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

KIHEI, Maui (HawaiiNewsNow) - The war plane sits on the ocean floor south of Maui in water less than 100 feet deep. Even covered by coral and rust it's an amazing site.

"Right now all the indications are it leans to a plane that was lost in 1945," Brad Varney said.

The Maui scuba tour operator found the wreckage Wednesday, acting on a tip.

"A local fisherman happened to come into the shop and mention that he was trying to catch some fish under the wings of a plane. I'm like, 'What plane?'" Varney said.

He's a history buff. He said the plane appears to be a World War II U.S. Navy dive bomber. The Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless saved America during the Battle of Midway.

"We were on the ropes. We were behind. We were losing. This aircraft turned the tide," said Scotty Scott of the Pacific Aviation Museum.

A replica hangs at the museum.

The single-engine two-man bomber could reach speeds of 250 mph, carrying ammunition and a 1,000-pound payload.

The United States had over 2,000 of them.

In June the wreckage of another Dauntless was pulled from Lake Michigan. Now this one has been found.

"It's fascinating that it's there and nobody has found it before now and there's more out there," Scott said.

Varney said the plane is off the beaten path. That may explain why it's gone undiscovered.

The Navy is investigating how it got there so he has been ordered not to divulge its exact location.

He said it appears the pilot and gunner got out safely.

"There's still gauges in there Most of the controls are still in there. The cowling's pushed back where the pilot got out. But it's in pretty good shape," he said.

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