The remains of a P-47D Thunderbolt that crashed off the Dorset coast in 1944 have been captured in a newly released interactive 3D model that details the remnants of the machine complete with GPS data.
The Thunderbolt crashed in Weymouth Bay at 12:25pm on May 7, 1944, the pilot reportedly bailing out prior to impact. Additional details remain unclear, although the USAF has confirmed that no associated paperwork exists, suggesting that the incident was not an accident and the pilot was soon back at base.
The site was discovered by Grahame Knott of Deeper Dorset a few years back resting in 25.2m of water. After two dives on the site and 1,126 images, the photogrammetry experts at Deep3D produced a scaled plan of the known site which was then converted into a 3D model.
Typically for aircraft crash sites, the heavy components like engines, landing gear and weapons survive much better than airframes. However, the site is quite dispersed, so the plan was to scan as much as possible. We added four control points (white squares in the model) and two of the team were tasked with measuring distance and depth.
The full model ran overnight. The original sonar was fine to dive the site, but we needed better data to embed into the model. A few days later Grahame went to sea to improve the sonar side scan view of the crash site. Multiple passes gave us the data we need to geo reference.
The result, seen below, includes annotations for known components as well as those that have yet to be identified. While the engine dominates the site, a number of parts, including the propeller and remainder of the landing gear, have not been found.
Deeper Dorset is planning additional investigations into the wreck and hopes to determine the name of the pilot. The site itself falls under the protection of the Protection of Military Remains Act of 1988.