B-25 Mitchell FOUND!!!!

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tim-bit:
Awesome pics, keep them coming as far as i'm concerned :D

Barkhill:
Thanks for your GREAT pictures.  This recovery is the culmination of many folk's dreams about recovery of these planes.

Here's my story...

I grew up on the lake, knowing Ben Redfearn, who wrote his Engineering Masters dissertation at the Universith of South Carolina on raising a B-25 for salvage in Lake Murray (mid-late 1950's). 
Ben went to the Army Air Corps records center at Redstone Arsenel in Huntsville, AL trying to confirm that there were aircraft in the lake, & where they might be.  All of the info about B25 operations over Lake Murray were still "Classified" at that time. 
Ben helped found Underwater Works (designed & built their air system) with Jack & Dot Young, one of the original dive shops in Columbia.  Jack was a commercial diver & instructor when I was certified there in 1981. 
According to Jack, Ben was very active tracking down all leads from witnesses & divers who claimed to find artifacts.  Ben wanted to be the first to 1) prove that there were B25s in the lake, and 2) find one as a sport dive site.
A 'kid' came in to the shop one day with hydraulic fittings, asking if they could have come from a B25,  Jack didn't know & called Ben.  The kid came in the next day, with a water-logged instrument panel section.  Ben met him there with a B25 flight manual, turned the pages and found a picture of the exact panel.  Said Jack, Ben was crushed.  The kid wouldn't reveal the location of the dive site where he found the components.  Ben lost interest in finding a B25.

My first dive was in Lake Murray under our dock with Ben's home-brew dive gear.  I was ten.  I used every bit of air in the tank before I came out.  I had heard the stories about the B25s and was hooked.

By the time I was at USC, I had surveyed the lake as much as possible, having picked possible crash sites, free-dived a few locations, and camped on the Bombing Range (Lunch Island or Bomber's Island as it is also called). I had piles of bomb fragments, but no planes.

My Freshman roommate, Andy Graham caught the bug as well.  We dug in for more info, getting a 1929 topo map of the lake bed, to refine the dive possibilities in our surveyed sites.  Most were in 100' or greater water.  In those days, GPS didn't exist, and only the Navy had any kind of SONAR.  We were guessing, just like everyone else.

We located the airstrip that the Army Air Corps built to simulate the deck of an aircraft carrier.  You can see the remnants by a dip in the treeline on SC HWY 291 crossing the top of the lake at the former site of Black's Bridge. (Look to the Northeast at about 45 degrees)  The strip falls off to the lake, so the pilot was encouraged to gain altitude, or if not, he was flying straight at the bridge!

We had read the available B25 specs, but wanted to see a B25.  Our Econ professor (Richard W. Molten), who ferried fighters into the Pacific during WW II and played cards with Pappy Boyington & the blacksheep, told us that there was one at the airstrip at Sea Island, GA.  After the class, we hit the road, not knowing that it was a 4 hr drive from Columbia!  We made it in right at 5 PM and in the airport flight ops office, learned that the B had been cut up & hauled away for scrap the month before.  Typical of our research, another dead end.
Andy & I earned our Open Water Dive Certification in October in Lake Murray.  We entered & exited the lake at about the spot where the plane was hoisted ashore.

Graduating shortly afterwards, we each moved out of state, never able to complete our quest.  The B25 which was pulled out of Lake Greenwood, up river from Lake Murray, was brought up with Ben's baisc methods.  I was enthralled with the Dive! magazine story.  If we had only had a little more time.

Ben Redfearn died in the mid 80's, having moved to Florida and never seeing the results of his early efforts.

My folks still live on Lake Murray.  I was optimistic that something would be pulled up, or adive site would emerge over the last 3 years, as SCANA, the owner of the lake, has had the water down for renovations to the dam.  I still try to get a tank for a 'quick look' when visiting my folks in the summer.  There's nothing like diving in Lake 'Murky' when you're looking for something.


lakemurrayb25:
Your facts are inaccurate ClearCaseMan. Sorry.

The depth of the wreckage was 152 feet to be exact. Not 50.

This is the first B25 actually recovered from Lake Murray since the Army Air Corps halted operations out of the former Columbia Air Base.

The one recovered 10 or so years ago that you mentioned, was out of Lake Greenwood.  It was named "Skunkie", and crashed on 6-6-46.  This one crashed on 4-4-43.

According to USAF records, which I received in 1989, there were 7 documented crashes into Lake Murray.
The report on this crash alone is 17 pages, but to be short, here is an abbreviated version of each.

One was a simple B25 wing tip dipped into the water, and that flight (slightly damaged) returned to base for repair.

One was a OA-14 Recue craft that, upon landing in the water, flipped on it's back. It was easily recovered.

The other five, were all B25s.

Three of these involved casualties. Two (including the one recovered recently) involved no casualties at all.

Of the three, Two were salvaged completely, due to the shallow depth, and one was only partially recovered. The center section (between the cockpit and tail) was recovered only.

The Lake Muirray B25 was never salvaged because, at the time, the depth was too extreme. And this fact also helped keep the aircraft in good condition for 62 years underwater.  Dark, Cold, and most of all, inaccessible to those who may have wanted to rip artifacts off of it. It remained pristine. (This dive involved mixed gasses, due to the depth)

The wreckage location has been a well guarded secret since it was found by commissioned Navy Side-Scan Sonar in 1992.

(which you can view at http://community.webshots.com/user/lakemurrayb25 under the heading "Where Was It")

The location was known by certain SCEG officials, SCDNR, Sherrif Patrols, and select divers who were asked to do periodic checks on the aircraft. Dr Bob Seigler, and his close cohorts kept a lid on the location while funds were raised to recover it.  Several months before the recovery, a small homemade buoy was found at the location, showing that some people had leaked the whereabouts, and concern was that they'd be back and potentially do damage to the aircraft. The buoy was removed immediately.

I must make one thing VERY clear....   This plane was not at all involved with the Doolittle Raid of '42.  It simply was another B25 that trained out of the Columbia Air Base.

Doolittle's Raid occurred on April 18 1942... Those machines were B25B models. This B25C crashed April 4, 1943 (almost exactly a year after the Doolittle bombing of Tokyo.

The error in facts probably comes from the pilot name.   William C Fallon was the pilot of this aircraft.   William Farrow was one of the 16 pilots in Doolittles raid.  (he however was captured and executed by the Japanese in October of 42 after a brief imprisonment)

The names are similar, but they never knew eachother.

For more info including the exact location of the wreckage, and 1600 pictures taken over the 12 day recovery, go to

http://community.webshots.com/user/lakemurrayb25

One other reason this recovery is so precious... is the belly turret... which is rare on this model.   It has both a belly turret and a top mounted turret.

My interior shots will show you almost every inch of the aircraft. (I took 600 pictures from inside the aircraft...)

More shots are being added as they are examined. 

I was asked to speak at a symposium about the project... I'll try to let you know the date and location, once it is coordinated (if anyone is interested in attending)

Otherwise, enjoy the pictures!

ClearCaseMan:
Yes I stand corrected on some of these facts, as I had a older person who worked for SCE&G tell me this information

Is there a reason you do not reply to your pm's?

lakemurrayb25:
Yes.  I didnt know anyone is messaging me. Is there an indicator somewhere that I do not see?



Here is another place for great project information...

http://www.alabamaaviator.com/index.asp?record_no=5119

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