6, Number 1 2003 Pages 24-25
Review | Read
Plane Wrecks on CD"
by Robert Keith-Reid
wrecks of war planes that 60 years ago battled over the islands
of Melanesia are an enduring fascination for travelers in the
region. Papua New Guinea is the primary graveyard for these relics.
Previously unknown ones are still stumbled upon from time to time.
Others can be found in the Solomon's Island and a few in Vanuatu.
of these ghosts of a violent past can be viewed on a CD-ROM, Pacific
Ghosts, compiled, by dint of thousands of kilometers of travel
to crash sites and in some cases input from veteran pilots who
campaigned in the Pacific.
CD is the work of Justin
Taylan, whose grandfather helped build Corsair fighters
and B-29 bombers, and Pacific historian, Michael
first went to Papua New Guinea to research a book. Surprised by
the amount of war materials, aircraft wrecks, in particular, still
to be seen there, he was infected with desire to learn their history
and how and why they lie undisturbed until this day.
stories of these Pacific aircraft, their pilots and final missions
are some of the more remarkable human-interest stories of World
War II." he says. "So is the fact that many are preserved
just as the war left them, cocooned by jungle regrowth, forgotten
until now, and preserved by their very isolation/"
CD features some historically significant wrecks, one being a
Japanese Zero that was part of the force of the attack on Pearl
Harbor and which was three months later shot down over Darwin,
is an F4F Wildcat, shot down by Japanese ace, Saburo Sakai, as
the first American aircraft lost over Guadalcanal in the Solomon
Islands and discovered and documented for the CD for the first
are a P-38 Lightinging with a record of seven victories over Japanese
aircraft painted on its fuselage, the wreck of a B-17 and the
story of its crew, and an amazingly intact A-20 bombers lost on
the "Black Sunday" mission of April 16, 1944, when 37
American aircraft were lost on a single mission due to bad weather.
It was the worst operational loss in American history.
wreck of a Ki-43 Oscar was part of the Japanese Air Force's only
mission to Guadalcanal. Other wrecks featured are some of the
only known examples of several types of fighters and bombers left
in the world, including Betty, Vals and Zeros.
grew up in Papua New Guinea, where he spent weekends looking for
1984, he was part of an RAAF team that salvaged an intact Douglas
A-20 and between 1995 and 2001 he surveyed many crash sites in
Vanuatu and the Solomons. He is an honorary member of the Zero
Fighter pilot's association, proposed by Saburo Sakai after finding
the Guadalcanal Wildcat. He is is a qualified pilot and restorer,
and has the largest 5th AF database of Pacific aircraft losses
who travels frequently to Melanesia will find Pacific Ghosts to
be strongly evocative. It's bond to arouse in pilot who fly today
over the forests that shroud so much of the region's islands the
thought "What's still undiscovered down there?" Undoubtedly
some great surprises.
runs the Pacific
Wreck Database which has a huge community of participants
and collaborators. It has assisted in the discovery of 'new' wreck
sites, identification of others, returning artifacts such as photographs
and dog tags and reuniting former comrades.
Ghosts CD-ROM www.pacificghosts.com