Searching for Sunken Bombers Using Technology

The oceans of the world are home to numerous sunken bombers and other lost relics from the Second World War as well as other wars past. While the crews of many aircraft are presumed dead, there remains the lingering question of what precisely happened to them. Thanks to new technologies, including robotics, the location and assessment of sunken bombers and how they met their ultimate fate has become much easier.

Aboard a ship from Palau called the Kemedukl, employees of the BentProp Project are scouring the seas for signs of wreckage that may solve some of the missing persons mysteries of the Second World War. They have already found a level of success in their search for sunken bombers, including the location of an Avenger that fell prey to an unfortunate water landing with three people on board. BentProp is specifically searching an area of the sea over which more than two hundred aircraft went missing during the war. They have been searching since the early 1990s, and have already found nearly forty planes.

The project may have been in operation for more than two decades, but their methods have changed greatly since their inception. It used to be that they could enact their search for sunken bombers using basic data retrieval techniques, but times have changed and they have found enough aircraft to rest assured that those which remain will not be easy to locate. Instead of scuba diving and running mathematical data, they know employ robots and their creators in the search.

It isn’t all about robots, however, as BentProp also uses underwater vehicles that give them a much wider search area than they had when they were searching in person. They have always used data to fine-tune their searches for sunken bombers and other lost vehicles, but things are made easier when they are able to pilot a small vehicle or an underwater drone to much greater distances. They have also added many members to their team since the 1990s, meaning that there are more people to run scientific and mathematical data, as well as more people to deal with the robotics, the CNET reports.

The sunken bombers found by the BentProp crew provide an idea of how military operations over the seas of Palau were carried out during the Second World War. By finding and analyzing as many missing vehicles as possible, be they sunken bombers or wrecked land vehicles carried out to sea, BentProp may actually benefit the modern military with an assessment of the precise failings of such vehicles that led to their demise.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE