Solana Beach P-38 Update (Solana Beach — 180 fsw)

Original Post is here: P-38 Lightning “Skip Bombing Mission (Solana Beach, CA — 180 fsw)

Based on the location and type of airplane and the fact that it was largely intact, we made an initial identification that we found a P-38 with BuNo 42-66617.

We contacted the Air Force Historical Research Agency to get a copy of the report but they sent the “wrong” one. There was some confusion since the airframe had been in three accidents. When I contacted them again to get the “right” one, they basically said “sorry, that is all we have.”

Not willing to give up, Tyler contacted another website Aviation Archaeological Investigation & Research that sells old accident reports and we finally received the correct one for the crash off Del Mar / Solana Beach on 19 Nov 1943.

The full 23 page accident report is available at the end of the post with a screenshot of the pilot’s statement below:

We believe that the information in the report reinforces our conclusion that it is BuNo 42-66617. Specifically, the following:

  • The pilot noted that “This all happened about 2 miles north of Del Mar” which coincides exactly with the wreck which is off Solana Beach just north of Del Mar. The summary website we found and referenced in our initial report just stated “2 mi offshore, Del Mar, CA.”
  • The pilot also mentions that he was flying slow when both props were stopped and he “leveled out, released the canopy and came down for a landing” which means that he was flying slow and didn’t have a hard impact. This coincides with the condition of the fuselage.
  • The pilot statement indicates that “the tail hit first, then the nose came down and dug in.” The wreck that we found has the tail disconnected which would be explained by the fact that it hit first and was probably jarred off the plane.

Given all the information, we are more confident in our identification. Given the state of the wreck, we do not believe it will be possible to get a 100% visual confirmation.

Here is the complete accident report with a link below to download it:

At this point, we don’t have plans to attempt further investigations and considered it “case closed” but we do have other targets we continue to work on and develop.

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