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    Leave 'em in New Guinea?

    ...as an aside from the 'Swamp ghost' thread.

    No! Get them out and get them out now.

    We have had the remains of four Spitfires now out of New Guinea all from the late 1970's.

    EE853, of Langdon Badger, illustrated at the South Australia Aviation Museum at Port Adelaide, which formerly opened in it's new location this past Saturday. Here is a shot that I took in March of this year.

    We have JG891 shortly to fly this year at Duxford.

    LZ844 has been crafted into a static and is now in Brisbane

    EF545 is the 'starter kit' for a further flying Mk V in the UK.

    All massive investments in time and money.

    All these aircraft in 1977 were right on the brink of being lost and would most certainly have been consumed by further degradation and corrosion by now.

    I would make one exception...and I do have the privilege of being an Eco tourist, the the recovery of BR545 from the Regent River in North Australia by the RAAF was best not done if all that you are going to do with it is watch it turn to dust in a storage area. It looked so exciting in the photos of it in the river and so miserable at Point Cook when last I saw it.

    Mark

    Last edited by Mark12; 24th May 2006, 14:25.
    "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

    #2
    I agree with Mk 12.
    We either rescue planes now or watch them eventually vanish.

    Hopefully, Swamp Ghost wil be restored to fly.
    Otherwise I'm not sure if there is much difference between leaving it where it was and being a dusty museum exhibit.

    (Although I will also point out that what makes this AC special is that unlike most surviving Flying Fortresses this is an "E" with a combat history.)
    There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

    Comment


      #3
      i totally agree with mark12, if the b17 was left where it was, eventually it would degrade into a big pile of rust. i do feel some sympathy toward the local tourist board, but surely such a rare aircraft is better to be seen by millions of people either in a museam or as a flying tribute to those who fought and died trying to bring back freedom to that part of the world.

      Also can anybody shed light on whether the usaaf or raf ever buried complete aircraft in crates in these sorts of areas (i.e burma, PNG, guadacanal etc) or is it wishful thinking on someones part? :diablo:
      I PITY THE FOOL

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by J Boyle
        I agree with Mk 12.
        We either rescue planes now or watch them eventually vanish.

        Hopefully, Swamp Ghost wil be restored to fly.
        Otherwise I'm not sure if there is much difference between leaving it where it was and being a dusty museum exhibit.

        (Although I will also point out that what makes this AC special is that unlike most surviving Flying Fortresses this is an "E" with a combat history.)
        I agree that valuable warbirds should be taken out of the 'wild' when they are being degraded by the elements, souvenir hunters and whatever else. However, I am more and more in favour of preservation rather than restoration, particularly when you have an aircraft with combat history. Restoration to fly necessarily rips out a lot of original material, and a lot of so called restoration in the past has destroyed original features that could teach us and future generations about the history of the aircraft and the type. Look at the recently released 'KD431: Time Capsule Fighter' about the FAA Museum's Corsair for an example of just how much can be learned by keeping aircraft in their original condition. (Ironically, much of KD431's originality was preserved under a layer of paint applied in the 60s to tart the aircraft up, but fortunately no-one had decided to take it back to the metal and do a 'proper' job).

        Comment


          #5
          I'm with both camps - take 'em out of the wilds and either preserve them "as is", or restore them to fly if the money and the will is at hand.

          Clearly we can't do this with all of them, but some of them would be better than nothing...
          Daren Cogdon

          Spitfire fanatic

          Comment


            #6
            Their argument seems to be that these aircraft are a vital part of their tourist economy. This is foolhardy at best. If they have not done enough to attract tourists, other than to offer crashed aircraft scattered across the islands, then they will be in serious trouble in the future.

            Whilst I am not sure we should recover absolutely everything that is scattered across the globe, at the risk of devaluing what is already out there, there is clearly some market in some of the airframes remaining in New Guinea. However, we should be aware that these are also part of New Guineas heritage, as well as being part of the global scene.

            In the past, some airframes have been traded out in exchange for restoration work being carried out for the national museum, and this is clearly a win-win situation. However, many airframes have also been lost as a result of scrap merchants moving in to clear airframes, and they are not licensed by anyone. The government therefore need to ensure they are in control of what is happening before issuing too many edicts...

            So, broadly, I am in favour of their recovery, but we should be aware of the historical value of these artefacts elsewhere. As far as airworthy restorations are concerned, in many cases, I suspect they are too far gone to be economically restored, and the resultant airframe will have only a tiny proportion of original material incorporated.


            Bruce

            Comment


              #7
              If the crew is lost with the aircraft is it deemed a war grave?

              If not or there's no crew lost with it I say get them out and into a more suitable home.
              Go Braves!

              Comment


                #8
                It gets a lot harder if you put yourself in PNG.

                (Both literally and figuratively! )

                The people who own the land that Swamp Ghost were on have lost an income earner from people who visited that aircraft. Not a lot of people, not a lot of money. But there, it was a worthwhile income stream to them. Remember the wants of people there are different to ours and warbird hunter or visitors cash, small it may be, went a long way there. Now it's stopped. Dead.

                To the locals (not the politicos in the PNG offices) it's an asset that cannot be replaced. They are certainly not going to able to go and see it (even if they wanted to) somewhere else, so to them, it's a total loss.

                For those they deploy the 'it's decaying & will vanish' argument, ironically it's in better condition than the Castle AFB Liberator was in US hands in the USA before it came to, and was restored by, Duxford. In that swamp the Ghost was good for a long time yet. The worst threat was actually damage or souverneering by westerners.

                Like most of us, those people probably have little time for their government and its actions. I rarely agree with my PM and Arts Minister or Minister for Tourism, and as for my newspapers... It's not that different in principle in PNG, but there's a lot more problems there as well. Don't assume the local people of PNG are spoken for by the Government or any of the other parties sounding off.

                No one asked the people of PNG if they'd like W.W.II to be fought over them. The support the Papuans and others gave us was excellent. However, since W.W.II we've done relatively little for them and it's easy to see (from a PNG point of view) as a lot of take and little give. A lot of their people died in a war that didn't make a lot of difference to their quality of life. Had the Japanese won, it would have been worse; but it's hardly better than it was pre-war - not a great achievement by the Allies, I'm afraid. They live in the world as it is, and it's tough - telling them it's better than it might have been is a short conversation.

                There were two Bostons restored by the RAAF, one for PNG, one for the RAAF Museum. The PNG machine is in Queensland, awaiting a suitable display venue for it to go into in PNG. The RAAF machine is on display. All honourable, above board, agreed, signed and sealed. But there's no Boston back in PNG. It doesn't need much of a rabble rousing politician to make hay with that kind of situation.

                There is a danger of not respecting other people's culture and values. At the end of the day, they are just tools. Strangely they mean different things to those who used them, and those they crashed on. But it would hurt no-one to take a bit of time to try and see the other guy's point of view.

                Like a lot of ghosts, when tackled some of the mystery and history just vanished. I'm open to different views, but it's easy to support our own and ignore the others. Cultural imperialism is a nasty problem.
                James K

                Looking and thinking...
                Vintage Aero Writer: Blog & Details

                Comment


                  #9
                  Hi James--

                  Thanks much for that reminder that things are always more complex than they might seem.

                  The references to tourism and to the Boston airframe stored in Oz on behalf of the PNG museum give me ideas: What's the chance funds could be raised to put up an uncomplicated steel hangar at one of the old airfields, perhaps a cooperative venture between PNG and the west? Doesn't need to be an AAM type structure to be sound and serviceable...and the treasures that could then be housed right in the environs where this major campaign was fought, would surely be a tourist draw far beyond a crumbling alloy hulk in the bush (however eerie and poignant the latter is). Is this worth thinking about, or is it just nuts?

                  Cheers

                  S.

                  PS--one irrelevant quibble: the AAM Liberator came from Lackland (Texas), not Castle (California)...but yeah, she was rough.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    War bird relics in the Pacific can, and do, create valuable tourist dollars for the community. I refer you here . However, the current situation on Guadalcanal would not make it a nice place to visit (unless you are an Aussie Peacekeeper )

                    Do the locals have any real right to these relics? They are owned by the government, but when you have paid thousands for your holiday to PNG, you do not mind shelling out another couple of dollars to see what the locals only consider to be a pile of rust that earns them enough for a few beers. They honestly do not see what all the fuss is about.

                    As far as other reasons for tourism to the area, they have little in the way of the kind of culture that draws people to, say Italy. It is a very tough place to visit, but very rewarding. Anything they can offer in addition to Malaria is welcolmed

                    DS


                    DS
                    Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I know several of the New Guinea recoverers. So not being specific, one told me a couple of years ago that they were were due by appointment, following procedures, to look at at something 'special' at a fairly remote spot.

                      The area agent had notified the local chief of the impending visit and the reason, as per the procedures.

                      When they arrived, a matter of a few weeks later, there was the impression in the ground together with a few 'chippings' where said 'something special' had been chopped up for 'x'USD a kilo and sold to the ever present scrapmen.

                      Ge 'em out now.

                      Mark
                      "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I think it's worth pointing out that in the late 1940's and 50's the Australians and Japanese scrap merchants pretty much picked clean PNG . Anything that was easily accessible was had - the wrecks that remain largely do so because of where they are i.e in a swamp ala 'Swamp Ghost' .
                        Whether it's right or wrong that locals should decide to scrap something that has been abandoned for years remains to be seen - maybe they would argue that if we hadn't have been so efficient in the Western world at scrapping our aviation heritage we wouldn't be making the trip to take their's.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          No, get them out now. Same goes for the Norwegian and UK hill side wrecks
                          We are working on the underwater wrecks here in Holland

                          Preservation is not only for this and the next generation but for the generations after that. Or we are being too egoistic?

                          Cees

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Using Swamp Ghost as an example. How many folks actually see it in New Guiniea, vs how many will see it if it's returned and restored in the US?

                            If the driving force is local economy of a few people, with the plane being seen by very few, it seems a short sighted approach to preserving the history.

                            But it's always about the money isn't it?

                            Having it turn to rust and dust and disappearing does little to preserve the history. That to me seems to be the overriding concern. Preserve the history.

                            It's a bit like that B29 on the bottom of Lake Mead being "preserved" on the bottom. Preserved for who? The very few divers who can actually visit it?

                            Why not preserve it for many more to see by raising it before it's too late?

                            Wish I had the cash.

                            Dan

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by HP57
                              No, get them out now. Same goes for the Norwegian and UK hill side wrecks
                              We are working on the underwater wrecks here in Holland

                              Preservation is not only for this and the next generation but for the generations after that. Or we are being too egoistic?

                              Cees
                              In my considered opinion not egotistic. Realistic.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Well, at least they have a DVD out! Trailers here.

                                http://www.pacificghosts.com/swampghost/video.html
                                I think my education is wearing off!

                                http://airfieldarchaeology.fotopic.net
                                Noel & Chris' Aviation Pages
                                Airfield Information Exchange

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I'm with JDK on this. I think it is arrogant and self-serving for any of us to decide that what is best for the historical aviation preservationist community, or for the overlapping but different historical aviation restorationist community, should take precedence over the wishes and perhaps the best interests of the local community. (I should point out that these are all, in a global sense, very small communities.) As to ownership, I believe that the people of PNG have at least as strong a claim on that as anyone else. And if lives were lost and remains unrecovered, the site should be considered a a gravesite until the remains have been repatriated. From my perspective, unless there has been some negotiated compensation, it sounds like the salvaging of this aircraft is something that was perpetrated upon the local community, and perhaps upon the families of the dead, by outside interests that simply had more power.

                                  Now, I fully understand the rarity of the B-17E model and the value of having physical access to an example of one. Accordingly, I think it would be wrong to destroy its originality in order to make it fly. Relatively speaking, there are LOTS of B-17's in the air today, and some of them are having trouble finding funding to keep them airborne. So what it boils down to is this:

                                  1) The local community should be compensated, if that has not already been done, perhaps by returning the Boston to PNG, suitably housed, as Steve T suggests. Perhaps it is better done by cataloguing other wrecks and lending some marketing savvy to nurture a tourist economy. Maybe there is another way, but compensation there should be.
                                  2) We as a community should preserve the B-17E, but not destroy its originality through restoration. If someone absolutely has to see a B-17E in the air, let it either be built new or wait until more wrecks have been found so the rarity is not as acute an issue.
                                  3) We as a community should support the upkeep of the B-17's that can still fly and fight for funds and for a social/political/economic climate that will allow them to survive (or even flourish?).

                                  Just my two cents worth...

                                  Harald

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Harald
                                    I'm with JDK on this. I think it is arrogant and self-serving for any of us to decide that what is best for the historical aviation preservationist community, or for the overlapping but different historical aviation restorationist community, should take precedence over the wishes and perhaps the best interests of the local community. (I should point out that these are all, in a global sense, very small communities.) As to ownership, I believe that the people of PNG have at least as strong a claim on that as anyone else. And if lives were lost and remains unrecovered, the site should be considered a a gravesite until the remains have been repatriated. From my perspective, unless there has been some negotiated compensation, it sounds like the salvaging of this aircraft is something that was perpetrated upon the local community, and perhaps upon the families of the dead, by outside interests that simply had more power.

                                    Now, I fully understand the rarity of the B-17E model and the value of having physical access to an example of one. Accordingly, I think it would be wrong to destroy its originality in order to make it fly. Relatively speaking, there are LOTS of B-17's in the air today, and some of them are having trouble finding funding to keep them airborne. So what it boils down to is this:

                                    1) The local community should be compensated, if that has not already been done, perhaps by returning the Boston to PNG, suitably housed, as Steve T suggests. Perhaps it is better done by cataloguing other wrecks and lending some marketing savvy to nurture a tourist economy. Maybe there is another way, but compensation there should be.
                                    2) We as a community should preserve the B-17E, but not destroy its originality through restoration. If someone absolutely has to see a B-17E in the air, let it either be built new or wait until more wrecks have been found so the rarity is not as acute an issue.
                                    3) We as a community should support the upkeep of the B-17's that can still fly and fight for funds and for a social/political/economic climate that will allow them to survive (or even flourish?).

                                    Just my two cents worth...

                                    Harald
                                    I agree - but I think they would welcome some mosquito nets and anti-parasite medication over a preserved bomber

                                    DS

                                    (Hope I don't have to eat my words when the Chinese Stirling shows up....)
                                    Never underestimate the power of human stupidity.

                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Dan - I think in the last sixty four years more PNG people have seen Swamp Ghost than any other nationality. The notion is great of more people being able to see something but how many B-17's are preserved in Australia and surrounding nations?
                                      She has a clear history in that war zone and whilst I am not advocating keeping her out in the swamp maybe some thought could be given to helping the heritage of PNG.

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        'Land owners' have been compensated for wrecks recovered many a time, with far more money than any tourist operation will bring in. I know one guy who not only had to pay for the wreck, but also had to put the land owners kids thorough college as part of the deal.
                                        There have also been many offers to build new museum buildings for the War Museum over the years as compensation for wrecks, along with similar offers to restore a second example of a type as part of a trade....for one reason or another none ( except the A-20 example ) have proceeded.........they could have a world class facility and 'tourist attraction' long ago but for all the infighting.
                                        The Govt. preaches that these wrecks are 'protected' heritage items...seems they don't bother to let the scrap dealers in on the secret.

                                        Dave
                                        Last edited by DaveM2; 25th May 2006, 02:21.

                                        Comment


                                         

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