WW2 wreck of fighter plane off Welsh coast gets protected status

The skeletal remains of an American fighter plane that crashed during the second world war off the Welsh coast, and occasionally emerge ghost-like from the seabed, have been given protected status (according to The Guardian).

Welsh government officials say the resting place of the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, nicknamed the Maid of Harlech, is the first military aircraft crash site in the UK to be protected for its historic and archaeological interest.

The fighter aircraft is buried around two metres below the seabed off the coast at Harlech in north Wales. When sea and sand conditions are just right it becomes visible in the sand.

Cadw, the Welsh government’s historic environment service, has given the plane scheduled status. It joins castles, abbeys and prehistoric sites, as well as buildings and sites connected to the iron, coal and slate industries in Wales that are protected.

The plane crashed in September 1942. It was flown by Second Lt Robert F Elliott, 24, of Rich Square, North Carolina, from Llanbedr on a gunnery practice mission but got into difficulties and had to crash land. The pilot walked away safely from the incident but was reported missing in action a few months later.

Matt Rimmer, a local aviation historian, said: “I have been an advocate for the preservation of historic military aircraft crash sites in Wales for over 20 years. I’m thrilled to see the Harlech P-38 scheduled by Cadw.

“I feel it not only acknowledges the significance of this particular aircraft in a historical context, but also the important role played by Wales in the air war against Nazi Germany and the thousands of aircrew from many countries who trained here, many of whom lost their lives either in accidents during training or subsequently in combat.”

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