WW2 fighter plane that vanished on daring raid just days before allied invasion is FOUND finally solving 80-year mystery

WW2 fighter plane that vanished on daring raid just days before allied invasion is FOUND finally solving 80-year mystery

A FIGHTER plane that vanished in a daring raid in Italy – just days before the allies invaded – has been found, solving a mystery that’s endured since the Second World War.

Warren Singer, a US airman, disappeared with his P-38 Lightning on August 25, 1943, during an attack on Italian airfields near Foggia, in the east of the country.

Pen NewsThe P-38 Lightning fighter plane vanished during an attack on Italian airfields in 1943[/caption]

Alessandro Aulicino/Pen NewsA diver found the wreckage of the war plane, solving an eight-decade mystery[/caption]

The mission sought to blunt Italy’s aerial response to the coming landings, and was a great success – destroying 65 enemy planes, at the cost of seven P-38s.

But 2nd Lt Singer never reached his target, and air force records show he was last seen flying near Manfredonia, a town 22 miles east of Foggia.

Now, 80 years later, divers have found the wreckage of Singer’s plane at a depth of 40ft beneath the Gulf of Manfredonia.

Singer, who was just 22, was survived by his wife Margaret, who he’d married five months earlier, and who later gave birth to their daughter, Peggy, in January 1944.

Reacting to the discovery of the plane, grandson Dave Clark said: “Warren is a hero to us all, and we love him.

“He was a very young man with love, hope, and dreams.

“One of the really amazing things about the story is that Warren has 12 descendants.

“We are all alive because of the very short time that that Margaret and Warren had together.

“My mother recently realised there were three days between the wedding and him being shipped out.”

The diver who identified the wreck, Fabio Bisciotti, said that it was in surprisingly good condition.

He said: “The plane is in pretty good condition… it most probably had a mechanical failure and ditched in the water.

“It was not hit hard by anti-aircraft guns because it was very far away from the coast – we are talking about four miles, more or less.”

Dr Bisciotti, who leads the underwater study group at the Italian Naval League, said there was no trace of a body.

He believes 2nd Lt Singer probably escaped the wreck but subsequently drowned.

He said: “The windows are open, so we are pretty sure that he managed to ditch the plane and then who knows what happened.

“Maybe he tried swimming or, due to his uniform, he went down.

“We are pretty sure that he drowned.”

The diver was able to identify the wreck as a P-38 due the plane’s distinctive twin-boom design.

And he was able to narrow it down to Singer’s aircraft, since records show it was the only P-38 lost at sea in the area.

In Lightning Strikes, the in-house publication of the P-38 National Association, historian Steve Blake recounted the circumstances of Singer’s disappearance.

He said 166 P-38s had taken off from Tunisia that day, flying east, crossing the Italian peninsula, and then following the coast north to Manfredonia, before turning inland towards Foggia.

137 planes reached their target, others turned back due to various mechanical problems, and one vanished altogether – Singer’s plane.

A Missing Air Crew Report for the young pilot described how his comrade, Carl Hendrix, had struggled to jettison his auxiliary fuel tanks and fallen behind his formation.

The report said “the last seen of Singer” was when he had “turned back to be with Lt Hendrix at coast”.

Another comrade, his best man Fred Selle, later recalled that the lost airman had flown alongside him and signalled that he too was struggling to jettison his tanks, before turning back.

Whatever happened, Singer, from Peoria, Illinois, was never found.

The pilot, who was a second-year student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, was declared dead one year and one day later, on August 26, 1944.

His name is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial in Carthage, Tunisia.

Dr Bisciotti was assisted by fellow divers Mariagrazia Antonaci, Alessandro Aulicino, and Pietro Amoruso, with historical research conducted by Giuseppe Iacomino.

And though Italy and the US may have been at war when Singer died, Dr Bisciotti said it was a “big honour” to identify his plane.

He said: “It’s important to remember that we are talking about a human being; that he was believing in what he was doing, so enemy or friend it doesn’t matter, he must be honoured.”

A spokesperson for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), which investigates what befell missing US troops, said it had been alerted to the discovery.

They said: “The DPAA has received the information from the Italian Naval League about this case and is investigating into the situation.”

Dave Clark/Pen NewsUS airman Warren Singer disappeared with his P-38 Lightning on August 25, 1943[/caption]

Alessandro Aulicino/Pen NewsThe diver who identified the wreck, Fabio Bisciotti, said that it was in surprisingly good condition[/caption]

Credit: Alessandro Aulicino/Pen NewsResearchers said there was no trace of a body at the wreckage site[/caption]

Credit: Fabio Bisciotti/Pen News50 calibre bullets and an engine crankcase were recovered from the P-38 Lightning[/caption]

Leave a comment

Send a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *