Archaehistoria

Marine ace Joe Foss Grumman Wildcat Fighter

Figure 1
Without question this is Malaita’s most significant WWII historic site, is completely intact, but disappearing really fast due to galvanic and electrolytic corrosion. It is Captain Joseph Jacob “Joe” Foss’s original Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighter- a completely  original Cactus Air Force fighter! It rests on the seabed off Malaita’s West coast exactly where Joe Foss ditched the plane on November 7, 1942, after battle damage in a dog fight and getting lost. Joe Foss is one of the most well known Marine aces of WWII and  close to the top Marine ace of WWII. Archaehistoria recommends full recovery and conservation of this incredibly historic artefact before it has dissolved completely into the Solomon Sea. Galvanic corrosion and electrolysis will have already made a significant impact but the recent (November 2011) underwater discovery of another Wildcat (“The Gavutu Wildcat”) in the Solomons which Archaehistoria was significantly involved in, shows it is still not too late. Time, however, is ticking away real fast for any meaningful WWII aircraft recovery from the Marine environment. A full archaeological survey with still images and video should be completed on the site prior to recovery. This site has national significance for the United States of America, and that country has the resources to locate, survey the site, salvage, and conduct the complicated and very costly conservation programme. It is Archaehistoria fervent hope  to raise awareness of this incredibly significant site and hopefully be involved in its search, archaeology and salvage. Archaehistoria does not advocate recovery of any WWII site unless proper archaeological survey is undertaken and a conservation programme is in place. This Grumman Wildcat of Joe Foss’s is probably the most iconic aircraft of the Cactus Air Force that is still in existence today. The plane was Bureau of Aeronautics Numbered 03453 and the depiction above is the exact plane that sits today on the seabed just off Malaita Island. [Aircraft profile by Don Greer, as published p. 37 of “Marine Fighting Squadron One-Twenty-One (VMF-121)” by Thomas Doll, Squadron Signal Publications, 1996].

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