War plane debris washed ashore

BEACHCOMBERS at Felixstowe are finding more than shells, coins, and odd bits of wood - and are recovering parts of a crashed world war two fighter plane.

BEACHCOMBERS at Felixstowe are finding more than shells, coins, and odd bits of wood - and are recovering parts of a crashed world war two fighter plane.

A number of pieces of the aircraft have been washed ashore as winter's fierce tides have stirred up the seabed off the coast, moving items which have been buried for years.

Last week sections of tree trunk were brought up onto the East Beach.

This week parts of the aircraft have also been coming up in the same area, near the Fludyers in Undercliff Road East, and people have been taking them to Felixstowe Museum.

Volunteer with the Felixstowe History and Museum Society, Colin Tod said more than a dozen pieces had been collected so far.

He said: “They appear to be bits of aluminium fuselage but they have been scoured by the shingle and the waves over the decades, leaving them shiny silver, and there is no colour or identifying marks on them.

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“Because they have all come up together at the same time, we believe they are probably from the same aircraft which must have gone down into the sea during the war.

“It's quite extraordinary to see so many pieces together and we feel sure other bits will be found in the next few days.”

While it is very difficult with so little evidence to identify the plane, it is thought to be an American fighter because there are some flush-riveted parts which were found on US planes.

This could mean it was a P-38 Lightning, a twin-tailed single-pilot fighter which flew many missions, a P-47 Thunderbolt, the largest and heaviest single-engine fighter of the war, or the powerful P-51 Mustang.

Mr Tod said: “It is a bit of a mystery and we would love to solve it. What we really need is a piece that has colour or a serial number or some other identifying mark on it.”

Records of planes which went down in the North Sea during the 1939-45 war are not complete, though the military authorities - Ministry of Defence and USAF - do hold detailed records of those they know about.

Have you found anything interesting on Felixstowe beach? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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