A World War II-era Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber that has been on the bottom of Lake Michigan for 60 years has been brought to the surface by salvagers.
The National Naval Aviation Museum, Naval History Heritage Command and the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency expect to take custody of it on Friday, April 24, at Larsen Marine in Waukegan Harbor. The plane crashed during qualification training in the 1940s, according to an April 22 report in the News Sun newspaper.
The National World War II Museum is sponsoring the recovery and restoration of the plane, officials said. A&T Recovery Company president Taras Lyssenko said the plane crashed in Lake Michigan in the 1940s and has been in 315 feet of water since then.
The Douglas SBD Dauntless is credited with winning the Battle of Midway and turning the tide of the Pacific Theater in America’s favor. “The recovery of this aircraft, and others, is the continuation of a program started in the 1990s to recover and preserve Navy aircraft lost in World War II,” said Navy Capt. Robert Rasmussen, director of the National Naval Aviation Museum. That effort has recovered more than 30 such aircraft so far, he said.
“This plane is an object that Americans built with American ingenuity [and] that won a war in the face overwhelming odds,” Lyssenko said.
Once the plane is restored, it will be displayed at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Complete restoration is expected to take three years, officials said.
“The only thing high school kids know about World War II is that Hitler was in it,” Lyssenko said. “Through these planes, we want them to know more about the history of the war and the freedom we enjoy today.”
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