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A Flying Coffin Discovered in Midway Atoll Lagoon: The Archaeological Investigation of a Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument

Author(s): Kelly Gleason

Year: 2014

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Summary

In June of 2012, a team of NOAA divers were conducting marine debris surveys and came across an exciting discovery ‘ a sunken World War II aircraft in the Midway Atoll lagoon. NOAA maritime archaeologists followed up with archaeological survey at the site in July of 2012 as part of a broader maritime heritage survey of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The team documented the site and determined its identity as a Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo lost during a squall in February of 1942. This is the third aircraft documented to date in Papah’naumoku’kea Marine National Monument, and the second at Midway Atoll. While archival records describe more than 70 potential aircraft losses within PMNM, this is the first aircraft discovered that was stationed at Midway Atoll to defend against the Japanese attack in 1942. Of the 21 Brewsters that took off from Eastern Island during the Battle of Midway, only seven survived. This sunken aircraft at Midway provides a glimpse into a fascinating era of aviation history. We are able to learn a great deal through investigation of what remains on the seafloor, archival research and interviews with the pilot’s surviving family members.


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Cite this Record

A Flying Coffin Discovered in Midway Atoll Lagoon: The Archaeological Investigation of a Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Kelly Gleason. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437150)


Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-60,08

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America