Since there are no salvaged or restored examples of the Douglas TBD-1 Devastator aircraft available today, this site is of significant value and well worth the effort required for identification and recovery.
The identification starts with a collection of historical information about the recovery target. For example, the incident report is extremely valuable; it indicates where the search parameters should begin. Technical information about this design of the aircraft is also valuable. When conducting a search, this information will help identify the aircraft from other wreckage which may be present. When a recovery is performed, information on the size and weight of the aircraft is essential to the recovery.
After all possible information had been examined, a search for the TBD-1 #0353 was conducted. Using side scan sonar, and an array of other supporting technologies, a survey of the suspected crash area identified the wreckage. To complete this mission, the Harbor Branch submersible was hired to dive on the wreck, recover objects, and photograph the aircraft. Recovering an object from a wreck is one of the requirements for claiming a right to salvage. The object is used to provide a clear identity of the wreck.
Submerged in approximately 500 feet salt water, Robert Mester and team descend to the crash sight. The submersible was ably equipped with lights, cameras, navigation equipment, and a manipulator arm for retrieving objects.
After a short search using sonar aboard the submersible, the aircraft was located on the bottom lying upright. A slight current and a pesky bow thruster on the submersible hamper navigation. After a few passes by the wreckage a decision was made to recover a portion of the pilot's canopy that had become dislodged and was now resting on the bottom just behind the right wing. After some tricky maneuvering the submersible was poised to retrieve the canopy. The manipulator arm was extended and ever so carefully the canopy was grasped and secured.
So far so good, the team had the canopy but could they get it to the surface without breaking it or worse yet, dropping it? As can be seen from final images, the mission was a complete success. The canopy, held close by the submersibles manipulator arm, arrived at the surface intact. Close examination of the canopy found it to be in remarkable condition.
Gallery of images from the search