For quite a while now, we have been finding and documenting various “dumped” WW II airplanes off of Point Loma, California. They are Corsairs, TBM/F Avengers, and SBD Dauntless aircraft. The original post back in Sept 2021 and then the follow-on post (Part II and III) in Aug 2022 identified over a dozen of these dumped airplanes.
On June 1 2023, I was out diving with Chris & Lora on the Marissa and looking at some targets that Tyler had identified. Both of the dives resulted in yet more dumped airplanes which continue to obfuscate “real” wrecks and are impossible to differentiate based on sonar / side-scan images.
Dive 1 – Helldiver (TBC)
This was actually a target that we have scanned multiple times over the past 12-18 months but always decided to move on from and dive something else. It was finally time to dive it to see what was there. Below is a map and coordinates for this target and an image of the sonar return.
After analyzing the photos and the photogrammetry model, we originally thought that the wreck was a TBM Avenger given the large wheel wells and a few other characteristics. I started analyzing blueprints of the TBM and realized that the wheels are in the opposite direction (i.e., the wheel is away from the fuselage and not tucked up right next to it.
That got Tyler and I thinking about what else it could be. Tyler saw an early version of a photogrammetry model I built of a Helldiver that sits off of the USS Saratoga in Bikini Atoll. He mentioned to me that this wreck looked very similar (big open bomb bay, wheel & landing gear placement, wing shape, etc.). Sure enough, below is a screenshot of that Helldiver in Bikini:
Below are screenshots of the model of the wreck off Point Loma. Note how the wheel wells match along with the large bomb bay and the square-ish panel behind the wheel wells. The angle and shape of the wings also match.
Given the recent model from plane by the Saratoga, we believe that this is a Helldiver. I also think it might be the first one that we’ve found in the airplane graveyard off Point Loma (although we could have mis-identified previous finds).
I had some pretty good visibility so I took some natural light photos as I started my ascent up the downline.
I ended my first dive on deco with some strange creatures floating in the water.
Dive 2 – Corsair
This one was really interesting.
While we were out looking at a list of targets Tyler had given us, Lora noticed something interesting on the n-hull side scan. None of the other targets looked viable so we decided to dive this one.
When I first saw the target, I couldn’t figure out what it was. I knew it was some kind of aircraft, but the orientation is not like other dumped airplanes. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Once again, I took a ton of photos and built a photogrammetry model. Once I built a model, it was very apparent that it was a Corsair. As soon as I sent a screen capture of the model, Tyler replied back “Corsair.”
Below are some photos of the wreck:
These are screen captures of the photogrammetry model:
Once again, we have been “stymied” by “fake wrecks” that are dumped airplanes. They are fun to dive and to do the detective work to figure out which type of aircraft they are. However, we are still in search for a few real wrecks we know are in the same area.