The “Jake” Seaplane is a somewhat famous, if easy, dive in Palau. It is very close to the Palau dive shops and hence easily accessible for a 3rd or 4th dive of the day given the location and shallow depth. My goal on the dive was to build a photogrammetry model to document the wreck.
Aichi E13A (aka “Jake”) Seaplane
The Aichi E13A Seaplane was a long-range reconnaissance seaplane with more than 1400 built.
It had a crew of three and cold carry bomb payloads up to 550 pounds. The E13A made the initial reconnaissance survey of Pearl Harbor before the attack. It was a very versatile aircraft that allowed it to perform multiple roles including air-sea rescue, anti-submarine, anti-shipping, bombing, convoy escort, liaison, patrol, transport, and the primary role of reconnaissance.
Some of the key characteristics are:
- 37 feet long,
- Wingspan of 47.5 feet
- Powered by a Mitsubishi 14-cylinder air-cooled radial engine
- Three blade propeller
- Rearward firing 7.7mm Type 92 machine gun (you can see it in the picture below)
- 4 x 132lb bombs/depth charges
The Allied nickname for the plane was “Jake.”
There were two primary Japanese seaplane operating bases in Koror. The first was for the larger “Emily” and is now the location of the Pacific Palau Resort in Ngerekabesang (which is where I stayed). You can still see remnants of the tie-downs. The second was at Meyuns and was the home to the Jake Seaplanes. The map below shows the relative locations.
Given that the props are not bent and the location of the wreck, the theory is that the seaplane crashed when the engine stalled during either take-off or landing from the Meyuns seaplane base. It would be almost impossible for the prop blades to be straight if they were turning when the airplane hit the water.
One of the most amazing things I noticed about this wreck is how the coral has “taken over” the plane. It is basically embedded into the coral growth at this point. The engine is broken off from the fuselage with various bits and pieces of the airplane strewed about. The plane sits at an angle of about 30 degrees with the port wing slanted up. The port side float is still intact while the tail section and the starboard float ar about 20 feet away almost completely obfuscated by coral growth.
If you are into airplane wrecks, it is a very fun and easy wreck to dive. There are also a lot of nudibranch and other sea creatures in and on the airplane and surrounding coral.
I had the goal to build the model when I started the dive. However, I had done two dives previously and didn’t change the memory card out. I also wanted to get some still photos for the blog post. I ran out of room on the card and didn’t quite get enough photos of the underside of the port side wing that sticks up into the water. However, the model turned out reasonably well. Below are screenshots and a link to the on-line model.
Here are some “static” screenshots of the model from Metashape: