Did WWII Plane Found in Jungle Still Have Coffee in Thermoses?
The story of "swamp ghost," a boeing b-17e bomber, began during world war ii and has continued well into the 21st century., jordan liles, published apr 18, 2021.
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Since at least early 2021, an online advertisement displayed the following words: "Man Finds Plane Hidden in Jungle, But When He Looks Inside." we also found two variations that read "Experts Can't Believe Contents Inside WWII Plane" and "Decades Later Plane Found, But They Looked Inside." The ad was displayed on the Taboola advertising network. The incomplete text hinted that something interesting had been found inside a World War II airplane that later became known as "Swamp Ghost."
Readers who clicked the ad were led to a slideshow article on a website named Skip and Giggle. The story told of a Boeing B-17E bomber from World War II that had been discovered in Papau New Guinea in 1972.
The Day the Plane Went Down
In 2010, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the "Swamp Ghost," a U.S. military plane, went down on Feb. 23, 1942, after being "damaged by enemy fire" and subsequently losing fuel. The incident happened "during a raid on Japanese forces at Rabaul in New Britain."
The four-engine B-17E Flying Fortress was built by Boeing in November 1941, flew from California to Hawaii days after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and then island-hopped to Australia. ... Army Air Corps Capt. Fred Eaton piloted the aircraft to a belly landing in what turned out to be a swamp and the nine crewmen survived a six-week ordeal escaping the swamp and making their way to safety. “Often in my life the courage and the perseverance that Dad and his fellow crew members demonstrated gave me courage to face some of the challenges we’ve all met in life,” said the bombardier’s son, Mike Oliver of Richmond, Va., who was born while his father was missing in action. An Australian air force crew came upon the B-17 in 1972.
The aircraft had a wingspan of nearly 104 feet (32 meters) and a length of nearly 74 feet (23 meters).
The Union-Tribune also noted that World War II B-17 pilot David Tallichet "started efforts to recover the plane in the 1980s, but didn’t live to see its return." Tallichet, who died in 2007, was the focus of the lengthy slideshow article that resulted from clicking the ad.
Google Maps Satellite Coordinates
As of early 2021, the most recent satellite imagery of "Swamp Ghost's" resting place available on Google Maps was from 2002.
The following coordinates can be input into Google Maps or Google Earth: -9.1980556°, 148.6616667°.
Alternatively, readers can click to load the satellite image .
Something Discovered Inside the Airplane
As for the tease in the ad that claimed something strange had been discovered inside the downed plane, this was true.
According to a July 16, 1992, article from Ohio's Akron Beacon Journal , when the bomber was found 30 years later, coffee still remained inside thermoses in the cockpit.
The Beacon Journal reported that historian Maclaren Hiari was "crusading to have his government relinquish the 'swamp ghost,' a historic U.S. B-17E bomber so well preserved in kunai grass and mire that there was still coffee in cockpit thermoses when it was discovered."
The Union-Tribune published that the airplane had "sustained little damage in the landing" and sat "virtually undisturbed for years."
Finding a Home in Hawaii
Decades after "Swamp Ghost" had been discovered in 1972, it finally came home to the United States. In 2010, the forward fuselage was displayed in a ceremony in Long Beach, California.
In 2013, the aircraft arrived at the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in Oahu, Hawaii.
As of 2019, it was still "undergoing restoration."
On Sept. 11, 2020, the museum published a webinar on the history of the aircraft.
A History Channel Documentary
Prior to the webinar, on July 4, 2020, the History Channel aired a documentary on the decades-long story titled, "The Swamp Ghost."
In sum, it was true that a man had made a discovery inside the "Swamp Ghost" airplane after it was found in the jungle.
Snopes debunks a wide range of content, and online advertisements are no exception. Misleading ads often lead to obscure websites that host lengthy slideshow articles with lots of pages. It's called advertising "arbitrage." The advertiser's goal is to make more money on ads displayed on the slideshow's pages than it cost to show the initial ad that lured them to it. Feel free to submit ads to us , and be sure to include a screenshot of the ad and the link to where the ad leads.
By Jordan Liles
Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.
How a Lost WWII Plane Hidden Among Swampland Transformed Into a Treasured Relic
| LAST UPDATE 10/13/2022
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Deep within the swamplands of Papua New Guinea was a lost relic from World War II. It became a religious symbol to many and a memorial of tragedy for others. Here is the story of the Swamp Ghost.
A Mysterious Discovery
The Royal Australian Air Force was completing a routine flight. They were flying over Papua New Guinea in 1972. At this point in history, the breathtaking region was still part of the Australian Commonwealth.
During this flight, the crew noticed something strange - it was a white and oddly shaped figure in the middle of nowhere. They were not exactly sure what it could be since it was located in such a remote area. Everything else was ridden in green... except for this mysterious figure.
Something's in the Water
The Royal Australian Air Force decided they would take a closer look. So, they flew in to see what this mysterious thing was. They realized the land was a swamp when they got closer to the ground. The item in question was halfway submerged underneath water.
The swamps in Papua New Guinea are dangerous territories. They are filled with haunting predators, like crocodiles and snakes. Since traveling to and through these swamps is a challenging and hazardous task, many unidentified items are lost to the world. In particular, there are many relics from World War II.
Infatuated by History
Thanks to its location, Japanese, Australian, and American airbases were scattered throughout the country during World War II. Due to the amount of activity that occurred during the war, there are many wreckages still left over today. This has inspired war tourism.
Thousands of people travel from near and far to learn more about the Second World War and see firsthand its impact. Tourists can explore the bases that belonged to the Japanese or Allied forces. Upon the discovery by the Australian Air Force in 1972, two people were interested in more than simply visiting the country...
Intrigued by a Daring Quest
The two men wanted to know more about the discovery in the swamps. These brave individuals were Fred Hagen and David Tallichet. Hagen's skills as an aircraft historian and recovery expert would be helpful in such an endeavor. Not to mention, both shared a love for restoring old war relics.
And so, about a decade after the Australians spotted the mysterious object in the wilderness, Hagen and Tallichet decided to uncover what it could be. They would have to trek through dangerous swamps and face many challenges along the way, but they were determined.
Scouting a Team
But Hagen and Tallichet could not dare do this alone. Trekking into the swamps was challenging, and they were unfamiliar with the land. They needed the assistance of locals to help guide them through the treacherous terrain. They gathered equipment and hired villagers to assist them.
With the help graciously given by the locals, they were ready to embark on their big adventure: Hagen and Tallichet were finally one step closer to figuring out what this mysterious figure could be. Though, the path would not be easy to complete. Many dangers were waiting for them...
The swamps of Papua New Guinea are not the most welcoming places for people to visit. Crocodiles infest the waters, and the air is teeming with mosquitos. The heat is also overpowering. Locals refer to the swamp Hagen and Tallichet were traveling to as Agaimbo .
Few people have willingly stepped into the waters of the Agaimbo. They fear for their safety and lives. Also, the intriguing destination is hard to reach because of its remote location. And it doesn't stop there. Once one reaches the site, they will have to venture into the waters because it is halfway submerged underneath them.
The Swamp Ghost
Sure enough, once they finally arrived and began inspecting the mysterious object, they quickly solved the case. Hagen and Tallichet discovered that it was a plane this entire time - remarkably in decent condition. The dangerous waters ended up contributing to how well-preserved the relic was.
Due to its location, the plane was nicknamed "The Swamp Ghost." And it soon gained international fame thanks to media coverage. Everyone in the world wanted to know more about the Swamp Ghost - and so did Hagen and Tallichet. So, they set out to discover even more about the plane and how it ended up in the middle of nowhere...
Upon Further Inspection
As they began to further investigate the aircraft, they made a fascinating discovery: the plane was not just any old plane. It was a fighter plane from World War II. This discovery marked a critical moment for historians and war buffs because the weapon was well-preserved.
Though it also wasn't too surprising that it was a military aircraft from the Second World War. After all, Papua New Guinea was a conflict zone between the Allied forces and the Japanese Empire at the time. Soon enough, the plane became a memorial symbol for all the lives lost in battle.
Making it to the plane was a difficult task to undertake, and they somehow managed it. Now Hagen and Tallichet had another impossible mission waiting for them: They had to figure out how to get to the plane and, maybe one day, figure out how to move it.
They wanted to salvage it, despite it being "widely considered that it was impossible to salvage," as Hagen put it. Nevertheless, he and Tallichet were undeterred in their mission: if anyone was going to be able to pull off this challenging task, it was going to be the two of them.
An Avid Aviator
David Tallichet was extremely passionate about restoring airplanes. At one point in his life, he owned 120 planes. His collection included aircrafts like the B-25 Mitchell and the P-40 Tomahawk fighter. Additionally, he was a World War II veteran and spent his time as a pilot during the war.
Tallichet made his money as a restauranteur. His niche was creating restaurants that revolved around specific themes. He even took his love for planes into his business! The WWII veteran made a few aviation-themed restaurants. One of them was called 94th Aero Squadron and was located in Denver, Colorado.
A Miraculous Coincidence
As the team continued investigating the plane, they learned of an incredible coincidence. The Swamp Ghost was the same type of plane that Tallichet flew during the war! It was the B-17E Flying Fortress. This discovery gave them even more reason and vigor to salvage the aircraft.
And so, their salvaging efforts kicked off in the 1980s - 10 years after the Australian Air Force first spotted the plane. But it would take years before this mission was complete. Luckily, the magnitude of restoring the aircraft never scared or stopped Hagen and Tallichet. They were determined to finish what they started...
What Is in a Name?
Before it was the Swamp Ghost, the lost plane had a different nickname that it went by for years. Its original nickname was the Flying Fortress. The B-17E was called this by a Seattle Times reporter who witnessed the plane flying during a test flight.
The name stuck afterward. The Flying Fortress was an amazing piece of aviation that inspired minds back in the 1930s as well as in the 1980s. Yet many questions remained: how did a bomber plane from the United States end up stranded in Papua New Guinea?
How Did It Get There?
A day before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Swamp Ghost was sent out separately from the Kangaroo Squadron. This was a special mission specifically for the Flying Fortress. It was to go on one of the earliest explosive missions of the Second World War.
A few months later, the Japanese invaded Rabaul, located on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. This attack threatened all the allied troops in the country. So, the Flying Fortress was given a new mission to complete. It was going to go after the Japanese forces in Rabaul.
Houston, We Have a Problem
The plan seemed to be simple enough. The B-17E was meant to attack the Japanese ships that were stationed in Rabaul Harbor along the coast of New Britain. However, things did not go according to plan. Suddenly, the plane began to malfunction. Their weapons bay doors would not open.
In order to complete their mission, they had to make a second pass at the target. Since the B-17E crew was forced into making a second pass, it allotted extra time for the Japanese troops to prepare for battle. This additional time ultimately did not bode well for the Flying Fortress.
The Fateful Battle
The Flying Fortress was in a full-out battle with the Japanese troops. Eventually, the aircraft's doors managed to open, and the American forces were able to fight back. They took down three enemy fighters out of a dozen. However, the fateful second pass gave enemy troops the time needed to come up with a counterattack.
A Japanese anti-aircraft flak hit the Flying Fortress. This hit caused devastating damage to the aircraft. It caught one of its wings, causing a chain effect, which made the plane leak fuel and look like it was heading straight for a crash landing.
A Missed Flight Home
The Swamp Ghost was supposed to return to the new Guinean capital city of Port Moresby once it completed its mission. However, with the damage to the wing and the devastating fuel leak, it was looking like the plane's pilot would have to devise a backup plan.
They were running out of fuel and needed to land - fast. The pilot spotted a place he believed would be a good site for a crash landing. They were coming up on the Own Stanley Mountains, and he thought he had founded a wheat field. Except it turned out to be something far worse than that.
Instead of the intended landing destination being a wheat field like the pilot had hoped for, it turned out to be a swamp. And there was no choice but to continue with the crash landing. The pilot landed the plane, and thankfully, none of the crew members were seriously injured.
But now, they were stranded in the swamplands of Papua New Guinea with no way to return home or contact anyone. They were utterly alone. With no other option left to them, the crew of nine journeyed into the wilderness to find a way back to civilization.
Sick & Stranded
The pilot and his crew set out to find their way back to their base. Only during this dangerous trek, all nine of them caught malaria and had to deal with heat exhaustion . It was with a tremendous amount of luck that they ended up stumbling across a local Papua New Guinean.
The local villager took them back to his village. There the crew was tended to and nursed back to health. Thankfully, the local was able to help them heal and make their journey back home. Otherwise, who knows what would have happened if they had been stuck in the wilderness any longer?
A Forgotten Friend
The B-17E's crew was reunited with United States forces in the capital city of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby. They were greeted as heroes returning from their treacherous trek through the swamps. However, almost instantly, the crew was given a new mission... and their old friend, the Flying Fortress, was forgotten.
The war continued and eventually ended, and no one thought again about the plane half-submerged in the swamps. Only a few locals remembered the aircraft. It wasn't until that fateful day in 1972, when the Australian troops rediscovered the aircraft, that the Swamp Ghost piqued international interest.
When Tallichet and Hagen finally made it to the plane, they were amazed to see how well-preserved the Swamp Ghost was. Since it was so difficult to get to and the fact it was partially submerged for all those decades, the plane was kept in excellent shape.
However, that did not stop locals from looting the insides of the plane. When they arrived, they discovered that all of the mechanics and weaponry that should have been inside the aircraft were no longer there. Though, these minor setbacks do not dampen the discovery.
Exploring the Aircraft
The Pacific Aviation Museum in Hawaii commented that the aircraft is "arguably the world's only intact and unretired World War II-era B-17E bomber, a one-of-a-kind example of an aircraft that played an indispensable role in winning WWII. And it is the only B-17 in the world that still bears its battle scars."
It is a pretty big deal that Hagen and Tallichet were able to find it. In fact, the Swamp Ghost is only one of four of its kind. Its uniqueness makes it even more remarkable that the aircraft was so well-preserved. The rediscovery of it has allowed historians to learn from the Flying Fortress.
A Wartime Production
During the 1930s, the Boeing Company began to produce the B-17 heavy bomber. It was initially introduced to the world in 1938. Boeing had built approximately 12,731 bombers and was responsible for making 28% of America's aircraft force during World War II.
To this day, the B-17 Flying Fortress is still the third-most massively produced bomber aircraft of all time. The B-17 was primarily used against German forces in Europe and Japanese forces in the Pacific. Throughout the war, these planes dropped around 640,000 tons of explosives.
A Method for Modernization
The B-17 bomber not only played a leading role in the war effort but also was part of President Roosevelt 's vision to modernize the United States military. It was a new style of aircraft that could carry more and serve on remote bases worldwide. The plane's engineering was also continually being worked on by Boeing.
However, the vision was not carried out as planned. After the war ended, the bomber was promptly phased out by the United States Air Force. They were sold for scraps or melted down. If any remaining planes were still being utilized, it was for roles such as transport, air-sea rescue, and photoreconnaissance.
Mission Impossible: Achieved
In 2006, about twenty years after they began their impossible mission, Hagen and Tallichet completed what they set out to do. They had finished their salvaging operation. It may have taken a long time, but they had learned so much and unraveled the mystery of the Swamp Ghost.
Now they had another seemingly impossible task to complete. The two men had to figure out how they would get the plane out of the swamps of Papua New Guinea. They had more than just the force of nature to contend with for this difficult assignment.
A Holy Sight
Locals viewed the plane as a religious relic . They believed that the land it was sitting on was holy. Therefore, they did not want the B-17 aircraft to leave the area. There was an internal fight within a local tribe when a local chief agreed to let Hagen and Tallichet remove the plane and take it back to America.
The chief's son spearheaded the campaign to have the Swamp Ghost remain. He organized a group of people to try and prevent the plane from being transported to a barge offshore. In the end, though, he was unsuccessful in his efforts: The Swamp Ghost eventually made its way out of the swamp.
They finally got permission to bring it back home four years after they finished their mission. The bomber was eventually lifted out by a Russian-made military helicopter. From there, it was airlifted to a barge and taken back to the United States of America.
The first viewing of the craft in the States occurred in Long Beach, California. Many of the people who attended the event were friends and family of the original crew members. Now the airplane calls the Pacific Aviation Museum at Pearl Harbor its home. The plane was moved there in 2013.
A Costly Restoration
Today, the owners of the B-17 bomber plane want to restore the aircraft to its original state. Except that is not going to be that easy of a feat. The estimated cost to restore the Flying Fortress could be up to $5 million. That is one heck of a price tag!
After the proposed restoration is fully completed, the plan would be to move the aircraft to Hangar 79 on Ford Island. The native Hawaiian name of the island is Moku'ume'ume, and it is actually an islet in the center of Pearl Harbor. For the time being, the aircraft remains at the museum.
Breaking the Chain
While American citizens may be happy to have the aircraft back on U.S. soil, local villagers in Papua New Guinea are still disturbed over the plane's removal. Not only did it attract tourists to come to visit their country, but there were local cultures that developed an extreme reverence for the craft.
They developed spiritual beliefs surrounding the plane. These beliefs are called a " cargo cult ." It is defined as a system of beliefs where members of a society, typically an underdeveloped one, hold superstitious beliefs surrounding items that have fallen out of the sky, usually technology from an advanced civilization.
Sitting on History
While the Swamp Ghost gained international fame, many other wreckages are strewn across the vast terrain of Papua New Guinea to this day. Just from the United States alone, there were over 600 planes that crashed in the country during the Second World War.
When counting planes from other allied forces or the axis forces, there are most likely thousands of plane wreckages throughout the country. Most wreckages go completely unnoticed due to the country's rugged terrain. It is full of tropical rainforests, dangerous swamps, and rugged mountains.
A Lasting Impact
When World War II began, Papua New Guinea was strategically located. It was perched between the Japanese Empire and Australia. While the country did not participate in battle, it did offer assistance. Locals worked as service bearers, carrying supplies and wounded through their complicated terrain.
Today, it's morphed into a tourist destination for people interested in the Second World War. There was so much wreckage there that people from around the world come to see it for themselves. To this day, people flock to the region for the sights and sounds of the war...
In April 1943, a U.S. B-24 bomber disappeared over the Mediterranean while on a bombing mission. It was found fifteen years later in some of the planet’s most inhospitable desert, hundreds of miles past the base where it should have landed, with the skeletons of its crew scattered for dozens of miles around it. In this week's Ask an Expert on Facebook Live , learn more about what many regard as the most haunting aircraft wreck of the war and the Museum’s artifacts from it.
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Masters of disguise: the story of the Allies' WW2 'Ghost Army'
As the Allies pushed through Europe at the end of World War II, they needed a secret weapon to stay ahead of the German war machine. Gavin Mortimer tells the story of the ‘Ghost Army’ – a talented band of artists and engineers who created the ultimate distraction
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By the middle of September 1944 the Allied drive east across France towards the German border had almost reached the end of its tether. The American XX Corps had as its objective the French city of Metz, 20 miles west of the border, but they were thinly stretched against a desperate enemy fighting to defend the Third Reich.
Two US divisions were assigned to the assault on Metz, but the problem facing HQ was the lack of troops at their disposal to guard the 50 miles that lay between the city and the Luxembourg border to the north. This was needed to ensure that the Germans didn’t launch a sweeping counteroffensive.
Nevertheless, late in the afternoon of Saturday 15 September, the advance element of the 6th Armored Division began arriving in the wooded land on the outskirts of Bettembourg, a town one mile inside the Luxembourg border.
During the night the sound of armoured vehicles was heard moving into the woods, and when dawn broke on the Sunday, a dozen M4 tanks were visible among the trees. As Lieutenant Dick Syracuse and his platoon manned their positions, they heard from their rear an angry holler.
More like this
“What the hell is going on here, son?” Glancing round, Syracuse was confronted by a colonel from a US cavalry unit.
“What do you mean, Colonel?” Syracuse responded.
“What are those tanks doing there?” Syracuse replied that there were no tanks – at least not real ones.
A look of stupefaction crossed the colonel’s face. “I know what I hear!” he snapped. “There are tanks out there, and nobody told me there was going to be tanks here!”
Syracuse sent for his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Edgar Schroeder. When he arrived, he took the cavalry officer to one side and explained who they really were. They weren't from the 6th Armored Division, but instead belonged to the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops. However, their task was to fool the Germans into believing they really were from the 6th Armored Division: hence the wearing of their insignia.
As for the tanks themselves, they were rubber ones that had been inflated during the night, and the sound of their ‘tracks’ was actually an audio recording being played by a sonic deception truck.
“Well,” exclaimed the colonel, “you certainly could have fooled me.”
- WW2 timeline: 20 important dates and milestones you need to know
Captain Ralph Ingersoll and Colonel Billy Harris of the 12th US Army Group Special Plans branch ( see box below ) would have been delighted with the colonel’s embarrassment. If they had fooled one of their own, then surely they could trick the Germans, too – and their creation did, on many occasions, during the final year of the war in Europe.
If Ingersoll and Harris had fooled one of their own, then surely they could trick the Germans too
The pair’s commanding officer, General Dan Noce, answered to General Jake Devers, who commanded US Army forces preparing for the Normandy invasion, and they both saw the potential of a unit dedicated to deceiving the enemy. The difference between what Ingersoll and Harris proposed to previous acts of military subterfuge was outlined in the so-called Ghost Army’s official history, written in September 1945 by Captain Fred Fox: “[Previous] deceptive efforts were handled by a small group of officers with pick-up detachments,” he wrote. “Some observers felt that deception could be strengthened and its employment widened, by the formation of a self-contained unit especially and solely designed for tactical deception. This group would serve as a nucleus of experts and its T/E [Table of Equipment] would be loaded with tricky devices.”
This unit, designated the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, was activated by the War Department on 20 January 1944. Its commander was Colonel Harry Reeder, a veteran officer who was selected to lead the Ghost Army because he had proved himself an adaptable and original thinker. Recruits came from four existing units: 379 soldiers from the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion; 296 from the 244th Signal Operations Company, 168 from the 293rd Engineer Combat Battalion and 145 men from the 3132nd Signal Service Company.
It was a melting pot of skills: artists and designers adept at camouflage, radio hams adroit at communications and engineers who could create anything from nothing.
Ralph Ingersol and Billy Harris: an unlikely duo
Despite their differences, the brains behind the ghost army were a perfect partnership, the art of war.
Several members of the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion were recruited from the Industrial Camouflage Program, a scheme started in 1940 at Pratt School of Art in Brooklyn. One such recruit was Seymour Nussenbaum, who had been enduring the miserable life of an artilleryman before he had heard of the call for artists. “You had to be transferred into this unit because it had a high priority,” he reflected many years later. “They didn’t tell us much because it was a slow evolution. They had never tried anything like it before.”Another recruit was Bernard Bluestein, who was midway through his second year at the Cleveland Institute of Art in Ohio when he heard the army were on the lookout for talented artists. Realising it could keep him out of an infantry unit, Bluestein volunteered and was sent on a camouflage course before he joined the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion. “We learned how to camouflage ourselves, and with buildings, we carried it a little further,” Bluestein said. “We had to build fake army equipment: tanks, jeeps, trucks, artillery, airplanes. We made these out of wood.”
While the members of the 603rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion mastered their craft, recruits to the 3132nd Signal Service Company visited military camps in the US to record the noise of armoured vehicles and infantry soldiers. With the help of top civilian sound engineers, the signallers then mixed these sounds with the situation they wanted (such as the digging of defensive positions) in what was called ‘sonic deception’.
On 2 May the Ghost Army was spirited out of New York on board the USS Henry Gibbons. Unlike other soldiers being shipped overseas there was no fanfare on the quayside; like all good phantoms they came and went in the night.
Once in England the camouflage battalion took delivery of a new weapon: inflatable rubber imitations of military hardware. “The dummies were usually inflated by air compressors,” explained Nussenbaum. “They ran off batteries or they plugged them into a car. When those didn’t work, we had bicycle pumps, and if that didn’t work, you blew them up with your lips!”
The camouflage battalion took delivery of a new weapon: inflatable rubber imitations of military hardware
The fighter planes and tanks were not just easier to construct, they gave the Ghost Army more time to devote to other deceptions, including creating replica insignia and uniforms of frontline units that they may be asked to impersonate.
Bafflement in Brittany
A small advance party from the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops was deployed to France shortly after D-Day on 6 June, and the rest of the Ghost Army followed. But it was to be a frustrating few weeks, as the official history noted: “Much time was spent looking for jobs, but the Normandy build-up simply did not lend itself to deception. At least, no one with sufficient influence thought it did. The 23rd was told to wait for the expected ‘break-through’.”
Nevertheless, there were occasional moments of comedy to lighten the men’s mood. Gilbert Seltzer recalled the afternoon that he and a buddy were told to move an inflatable tank into a new position. As they picked up the tank, they heard a cry of incredulity from a passing Frenchman. “Americans are very strong!” shouted Seltzer, and the Frenchman ran off to tell his neighbours of the supermen in their midst.
The ‘break-through’ was finally achieved at the end of July as General Omar Bradley’s army smashed the stalemate, and in the space of a week, covered more than 60 miles into Brittany. The Ghost Army was tasked with tricking the Germans into believing that Bradley’s priority was to clear the Brittany peninsula, while in reality it was to thrust south.
Forming into four notional battle groups, the Ghost Army ranged across Brittany, often at night, using their sonic deception to create the sound of a huge armoured force on the move. Reconnaissance patrols displaying fake insignia would carry out missions aware that they were under enemy observation. According to the official history: “While the 23rd does not hold itself responsible for the destruction of the German Seventh Army, there is always a possibility that its ruse helped becloud the German estimate of the situation.”
Keeping up appearances
Later in August the Ghost Army deployed a fake artillery battery against the Germans in Brittany, emitting the flashes and noises of heavy guns half a mile in front of a German artillery battalion. Over three nights the fake battery was targeted by the German howitzers who believed them to be real.
A month later the Ghost Army was supporting XX Corps as they attempted to liberate Metz. Once the red-faced cavalry colonel had departed, the men of the 23rd began cooking breakfast, sparking up stoves as if they were a brigade and not a battalion. Later, some of the soldiers strolled into Bettembourg, where it was known there were enemy spies. They wore the shoulder patches of the 6th Armored, and in the cafes and bars they boasted of their Division’s reputation – information they knew would be passed on to the Germans.
Ghost Army personnel even impersonated 6th Division Military Policemen, arriving to empty the cafes of Bettembourg of soldiers and ordering them to return to their positions. “Civilians were observed photographing bumpers, taking notes, and asking ‘friendly’ questions,” recalled Lieutenant Colonel Clifford Simenson.
The Ghost Army had been instructed to plug the line north of Metz for 48 hours until the arrival of the 83rd Infantry Division, but they were delayed. Fear grew that the Germans would rumble the ruse and launch an attack against soldiers ill-equipped materially and physically to resist an assault. But the attack never came, and on 22 September the 83rd Infantry finally arrived.
Ghost Army in numbers
Vow of secrecy.
The Ghost Army continued to distort reality as the Allies advanced into Germany. In March 1945 the camouflage battalion pretended they were two crack divisions preparing for an assault against Viersen. As the Nazis focused their energies on defending the town, the 9th Army crossed the Rhine five miles to the east. “We went into town at dusk when no one could see us, but we had a sound system that had the sounds of troops moving,” recalled Bernard Bluestein. “We were only about 1,100 men. We simulated two divisions of 30,000.”
The next morning the Germans began shelling the Ghost Army, which Bluestein saw as a badge of honour. “[It] gave us the indication that we convinced them that we were the real outfit.”
The story of the Ghost Army was kept secret in case a similar unit was needed in the Cold War
When the war ended a few weeks later, the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops shipped back to the US, and Bluestein and Nussenbaum returned to art college. For decades, the story of the Ghost Army was kept secret in case a similar unit was needed in the Cold War, so Nussenbaum came up with a typically imaginative way to explain his wartime exploits.
“When they asked me what I did, I said ‘I blew up tanks’, which wasn’t a lie. And it sounded good.”
For more information on the World War II Ghost Army, visit the Ghost Army Legacy Project website: ghostarmylegacyproject.org
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The Ghost Fighter Plane of Pearl Harbor
by Brian Dunning
Filed under Paranormal , Urban Legends
Skeptoid Podcast #547 November 29, 2016 Podcast transcript | Subscribe
It was December of 1942, a year and a day after the Japanese sneak attack that launched the United States into World War II. The American Navy was on guard at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Published accounts say that radar contact was made with an incoming aircraft, and fearing another attack, fighter planes were scrambled to intercept it. But instead of an attacking Japanese bomber, they encountered a ghost fighter: a pre-war American aircraft, shot to pieces, with its pilot apparently dead at the controls. It lost altitude and crashed in a field, but rescue crews found no trace of the pilot's body. It is said to be one of the strangest mysteries from the war. Is it possible that something so bizarre actually happened, or could there be another explanation for the oft-repeated tale? Today we're going to find out exactly what did happen.
The story can now be found, in various lengths and with minor variations, all over the Internet. Here is one representative example, from an online article titled The 15 Strangest Unsolved World War II Mysteries, and this is #5, " The Pearl Harbor Ghost P-40 ":
It was December the 8th, 1942, and U.S. radar picked up an unidentified plane heading straight for Pearl Harbor from the direction of Japan. Two fighters were instructed to investigate and quickly intercepted the mysterious plane. It was a P-40 Fighter, of the type used in the defense of Pearl Harbor the year prior, and not used since. What was even stranger was that the plane was bullet-ridden, missing its landing gear, and the pilot could be seen to be covered in blood and slumped forward over his controls. The intercepting pilots claimed the other pilot waved at them briefly before his P-40 nosedived directly towards the ground and crashed. Rescue crews were dispatched immediately and combed through the wreckage. There was no trace of the pilot. They did recover a diary that indicated the plane was stationed on the island of Mindanao, 1,300 miles away in the Pacific Ocean. If he was a wounded Pearl Harbor defender, how did he survive in a shredded plane for a year? Without landing gear, how did he get his plane off the ground? What happened to his body? This has remained one of the most perplexing mysteries of the war.
As many long-suffering Skeptoid listeners know, I'm quite the aeronautics buff, so I had to learn more about this story. Some Google searches turned up essentially the same article on about a dozen sites, often with a lot of the same exact text copied and pasted (online journalism at its finest). Searchable official databases of aircraft incidents don't go much earlier than the 1980s, so I turned to old newspaper archives to see if any Hawaii newspapers had reported this. But I quickly learned a troubling fact: searching news archives for terms like P-40 and crash during history's largest air war is like trying to drink from a firehose. No luck there.
But further searching eventually yielded some results. Some retellings include commentary like this:
Some speculated that the craft may have been downed over a year earlier and the pilot managed to survive on his own in the wild. He could have possible scavenged parts from other downed aircraft, repaired his airplane, and managed to somehow navigate his way back to his homeland over 1000 miles of hostile territory. What they could not explain, is how the heavy P-40 aircraft could have ever taken off without the aid of any sort of landing gear.
The complete lack of landing gear — which is very different than shot-up or damaged landing gear — posed the toughest puzzle and made this story unique. At one point I came upon a forum discussion where someone said he thought he once heard this story told about some POWs or someone cobbling together a plane out of spare parts and using it to escape. And it was this clue that finally led me to an obscure book written in 1945.
In order to present the original source for the story of the ghost P-40, it's necessary to introduce one of the great American aces of World War II. Colonel Robert Lee Scott, Jr. (later to become an Air Force brigadier general), began his career as a fighter pilot in the Flying Tigers, the unofficial American volunteer group flying against the Japanese from Chinese airfields. In mid-1942, the Flying Tigers were rolled into the American military as the 23rd Fighter Group, and at the personal request of Chiang Kai-shek, Scott was named the unit's commander. By 1943, Scott had 13 aerial victories, all in a P-40, making him one of the Pacific theater's double aces. Scott became best known for his 1943 autobiography God Is My Co-Pilot, which was made into a Hollywood movie in 1945.
Scott's second book was a collection of fictional stories inspired by people or places or tall tales from the war. Its title was Damned to Glory. The first chapter, "Ghost Pilot", turns out to be our little tale, only in much longer form. It opens with two 23rd Fighter Group pilots, Hampshire and Costello, scrambled from their base at Kienow Airdrome in China and intercepting the inbound P-40, which they were shocked to see bearing a pre-war American insignia. They were baffled by its missing landing gear, and by the fact that it was heavily damaged:
...The cockpit had been nearly shot away, the fuselage was a sieve, the right aileron was gone, and one wing seemed shorter than the other where a part of it had been blasted off... Then, as Hampshire moved close beneath the unknown plane, he observed that it had no wheels. The deep wells into the which the wheels are supposed to fit when retracted were empty. Enemy bullets couldn't have done that. It had never had wheels.
The pilot appeared already dead, his head slumped forward; and they followed him down to where the plane crashed and burned. His diary was recovered. The bulk of the chapter is told in flashback, narrated by that pilot, "Corn" Sherrill, and is offered as a possible reconstruction of events based on his diary and other papers found in the wreck. The Japanese had largely taken over the Philippines, and Sherrill with a small group of Americans found themselves isolated at a destroyed airstrip on the island of Mindanao, constantly dodging Japanese patrols. They spent months scavenging wrecked planes, and cobbled together a flyable P-40, but couldn't come up with any landing gear. So they contrived a set of bamboo skids with which the plane could take off, and then drop for flight. They loaded it with bombs and attached all the extra fuel tanks they could, and Sherrill took off to strike the Japanese naval station at Formosa about 1,600 kilometers away. His plan was then to make it to Kienow in China, another 450 kilometers. If he flew slowly, he could make it, at the cost of every drop of fuel he could carry. Sherrill's strike on the Japanese was successful, but he came under so much fire that he was mortally wounded, managing only to get his plane pointed in the direction of Kienow before succumbing.
Once all the versions of the story are put together and compared, the modern online version turns out to be reasonably true to the original, with the only substantial change being Sherrill returning from his raid into Pearl Harbor instead of Kienow. Setting aside the impossibility of this due to a P-40's short range, the error was not entirely unreasonable, as the stories did mention the aircraft bearing Pearl Harbor markings. What this referred to was the American insignia on the side of the plane. The familiar one is a white star on a navy blue circle. But before May 1942, the center of the star was filled with a red circle, and this is what the American planes at Pearl Harbor (and throughout the South Pacific) would have had at the start of the war. The red circle was removed to avoid confusion with the Japanese rising sun insignia.
But did Scott intend for "Ghost Pilot" to be taken as a true story? Well, it certainly took on a life of its own. Reader's Digest reprinted "Ghost Pilot" almost immediately, thereby immortalizing it in a mass market publication. Author and Flying Tigers historian Dan Ford tracked some of the history and found that Scott retold the story again in a Boston magazine called Yankee , only this time he made its hero a Boston native. Ford also found an online account written by a Dave Kight, who said he attended a live event where General Scott was asked about the story in an open Q&A forum. Kight wrote:
Someone asked him about this very story of the Mindanao P-40. He laughed and said he and another Flying Tiger pilot made it up as a lark during the war. They later admitted it was a joke but the thing refused to die. He said they were stunned to see the thing in print in an issue of Air Classics and if they had any idea that it would be still around 40 some odd yrs. later (at the time) they wouldn't have done it.
Imagine that: an urban legend found on the Internet, that turns out to be the fictional work of an imaginative author. Told, retold, copied, pasted, abridged, and distorted, it finds it way onto the "unexplained mystery" websites, where it is taken seriously by many readers. Why the misattribution as a genuine mystery? It's not like there aren't enough real mysteries; but perhaps more to the point, why not let it stand as a work of fiction? Scott's tale of men on the edge of an island and the edge of a war, beaten, alone, starved of resources, and yet still taking the offensive, ranks as fine adventure writing. I enjoyed the story. It deserves its rightful place. It does not deserve to be stripped of its dramatic elements and reduced to an artless error-choked paragraph on a clickbait website.
General Scott died in February, 2006 at the age of 97, in his home state of Georgia. He had earned two Silver Stars, three Distinguished Flying Crosses, and three Air Medals. He published twelve books, and in remembrance of his time with the Flying Tigers, hiked the entire 3,000 kilometer length of the Great Wall of China at the age of 72.
Please contact us with any corrections or feedback.
Cite this article: Dunning, B. "The Ghost Fighter Plane of Pearl Harbor." Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media, 29 Nov 2016. Web. 15 Jan 2024. <https://skeptoid.com/episodes/4547>
References & Further Reading Anonymous. "The Ghost Plane." Oddities. Futility Closet, 7 May 2011. Web. 16 Nov. 2016. <https://www.futilitycloset.com/2011/05/07/the-ghost-plane/> Breuer, W. Unexplained Mysteries of World War II. New York: J. Wiley, 1997. 96-98. Byrd, M. Chennault: Giving Wings to the Tiger. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1987. Editors. "Interview with Retired Brig. General Robert L. Scott – American World War II Ace Pilot and Hero." HistoryNet.com. World History Group, 12 Jun. 2006. Web. 1 Dec. 2016. <http://www.historynet.com/interview-with-retired-brig-general-robert-l-scott-american-world-war-ii-ace-pilot-and-hero.htm> Ford, D. "What about the phantom P-40 shot down in China?" The Warbirds Forum. Daniel Ford, 17 Oct. 2004. Web. 14 Nov. 2016. <http://www.warbirdforum.com/phantom.htm> Ford, D. Flying Tigers: Claire Chennault and his American volunteers, 1941-1942. New York: Smithsonian Books, 2007. Scott, R. Damned to Glory. New York: Blue Ribbon Books, 1945. 13-87.
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War News | Military History | Military News
Relic hunters surprised by what they discovered in wwii-era ‘swamp ghost’ bomber.
- World War 2
While flying over Papua New Guinea in 1972, airmen from the Royal Australian Air Force spotted something strange in the swamplands below. The large object looked nothing like its surroundings, prompting them to vow to uncover whatever it was. After a long search through the complex swamp systems, they discovered what they’d seen: a wrecked aircraft, known to locals as the “Swamp Ghost.”
Shockingly, it was a Boeing B-17E Flying Fortress that had been forgotten by US forces for decades. However, it was what they found inside the downed aircraft that was even more surprising.
The crew survived a death-defying crash
On February, 23, 1942, a few months after the attack on Pearl Harbor , the B-17E Flying Fortress , piloted by Capt. Frederick C. Eaton Jr., was hit while flying over Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, which had been invaded by Japan. The aircraft’s wing was damaged and fuel was leaking out of the hull too quickly for the crew to make it back to the capital city of Port Morseby.
Capt. Eaton opted for a crash landing in what he thought was a wheat field. The crew survived, but they weren’t in a wheat field. They’d actually landed in a swamp crawling with vicious crocodiles. Somehow, they made it out alive and were found by villagers who took them in and treated them for malaria . They were nursed back to health and returned to serve for the remainder of the Second World War .
The legend of the “Swamp Ghost”
After the crash, neither the crew of the B-17E nor the US Air Force tried to retrieve the heavy bomber. It remained in the swamp, where it was visited by villagers. Soon, it became somewhat of a holy site, as mysterious things happened to those who dared explore the wreckage.
According to legend, some who ventured toward the aircraft never returned, while others contracted malaria and suffered from cognitive issues. This led locals to keep a distance and worship the area as a sacred place, to keep themselves safe from the strange phenomena.
Following the war, Papua New Guinea became a popular destination for relic hunters looking for downed aircraft, old guns and infrastructure, and other artifacts the jungle had swallowed up. The “Swamp Ghost” quickly became one of the main attractions.
Salvagers spotted the B-17E Flying Fortress in the jungle
When the B-17E was spotted in 1972 by the Australian airmen, they were astounded by what they’d found. The wreck was in amazing condition, and they even found thermoses filled with coffee that had been poured by the original crew!
In the 1980s, after hearing about the discovery, renowned aircraft salvager Fred Hagan and his partner, David Tallichet, set out to find the wreck and salvage it. They were shocked to see the “Swamp Ghost” was in such good condition, and while the majority of the weapons and mechanics had been stripped by locals, the interior was still remarkable.
Hagan and Tallichet began the process of reconstructing the heavy bomber to make it sturdy enough to be moved. However, setbacks delayed the project for years. Finally, in 2006, the salvage mission was complete, minus one additional setback: locals didn’t want it removed. Eventually, after a ceremony to appease the spirits of the swamp, the aircraft was permitted to leave its resting place for the first time in 65 years.
Where is the “Swamp Ghost” now?
More from us: The Douglas SBD Dauntless Changed the Course of the Second World War In a Single Day
Once it was fully restored, the “Swamp Ghost” was put on display at a ceremony in Long Beach, California that was attended by many family members of the original crew. It has since been permanently moved to the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum in Hawaii, where it’s undergoing restoration.
The P-40 Ghost Plane: An unsolved mystery of World War II
- ⬝ Aug28,2023 10:06pm
The P-40B is believed to be the only survivor from the Pearl Harbor attack. There are plenty of stories of ghost planes and strange sightings in the sky surrounding World War II, but perhaps none are as astonishing as the “Pearl Harbor ghost plane.” On December 8, 1942—nearly a year to the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor—an unidentified plane was picked up on radar headed toward Pearl Harbor from the direction of Japan.
When U.S. planes were sent to investigate, they saw that the mystery plane was a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, the kind that had been used by American forces in the defense of Pearl Harbor and not used since. They said that the plane was riddled with bullet holes, and that the pilot could be seen inside, bloody and slumped over in the cockpit, though he is said to have waved briefly at the other planes just before the P-40 crash-landed. However, the search teams had never found its wreckage. The entire plane just vanished with its pilot.
On December 8, 1942, over a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, radar in the United States picked up an unusual reading. What appeared to be an airplane was heading for American soil from the direction of Japan. Radar operators knew this bore none of the usual markings of some sort of aerial attack. The sky was overcast, it was late evening, and no prior attack had occurred in these types of conditions.
Two American pilots were sent to intercept the mysterious plane. As they approached the plane they radioed back to the ground to report that the aircraft was a P-40 and bore markings that had not been used since the attack on Pearl Harbor. When they pulled up alongside the craft they were shocked to find a bullet-riddled plane with landing gear blown away. Puzzled as to how a plane in this condition could even fly, they noticed the pilot was slumped in the cockpit, his flight suit stained with fresh blood. As they peered into the window the pilot raised slightly, turned in their direction, and smiled offering a meek wave towards his two allies. Moments later the mysterious craft plummeted from the sky smashing into the ground with a deafening roar.
Evidence At The Crash Site
American troops swarmed the crash site but found no trace of the pilot or evidence of who he may have been. Neither did they find identifiable markings from the plane. But, they did find a document which was assumed to be the remains of some sort of diary. From this diary, researchers were able to deduce that the plane must have originated from the island of Mindanao, located about 1,300 miles away. The rest of the story is a mystery.
Some speculated that the craft may have been downed over a year earlier and the pilot managed to survive on his own in the wild. He could have possible scavenged parts from other downed aircraft, repaired his airplane, and managed to somehow navigate his way back to his homeland over 1000 miles of hostile territory. What they could not explain, is how the heavy P-40 aircraft could have ever taken off without the aid of any sort of landing gear.
- Cast & crew
Ghost Plane of the Desert: Lady Be Good
- Episode aired Feb 7, 2000
The tragic story of the World War II-era B-24 Liberator bomber "Lady Be Good", which mysteriously disappeared after its first bombing mission over Naples, Italy in April 1943. The plane was ... Read all The tragic story of the World War II-era B-24 Liberator bomber "Lady Be Good", which mysteriously disappeared after its first bombing mission over Naples, Italy in April 1943. The plane was discovered 15 years later, without its crew, in the Libyan desert 400 miles south of its a... Read all The tragic story of the World War II-era B-24 Liberator bomber "Lady Be Good", which mysteriously disappeared after its first bombing mission over Naples, Italy in April 1943. The plane was discovered 15 years later, without its crew, in the Libyan desert 400 miles south of its air base.
- Jim Lindsay
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- Arthur Kent
- James W. Walker
- Self - Host
- Self - Lady Be Good Historian
- (as James Walker)
- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
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- Connections References Lady Be Good (1941)
- February 7, 2000 (United States)
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Still Unsolved Story Of B-17 Landing With Crew Missing
The Second World War II created countless stories of heroism and courage in the face of evil. There were great stories of triumph but there are also many lingering mysteries of WWII, this is one of them.
On November 3rd, 1944 a B-17 touched down at an Allied airfield in Belgium. Crews on the airfield were surprised when the bomber’s propellors continued buzzing 20 minutes after the plane had landed. However, the most surprising thing was that the B-17 was completely empty with no sign of a crew.
Markings on the B-17 indicated that it was part of the 91st Bomber Group returning from a raid against German oil refineries. As the ground crews conducted an investigation they found signs of life such as half-eaten chocolate bars and a written log which mentioned that the plane had taken damage from Flak.
“The aircraft log was open and the last words, written sometime before were ‘Bad Flak.’” – John V. Crisp
The parachutes were still onboard and no indication of gunfire or blood caused by hostile attacks were seen on the plane. There have been theories surrounding the event for decades but never a definitive answer. The odds of a plane landing on an Allied airfield without a crew or sustaining damage are next to impossible yet it happened. This video dives further into the mystery by addressing some of the known details surrounding the Ghost B-17.
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The P-40 ghost plane of Mindanao: the history of a great mystery of the WW2
There are times when the story becomes a legend and even a mystery, especially when its protagonists are relegated to oblivion.
The history of Finnish soldier Simo Häyhä: the deadliest sniper of all time Honors to fallen enemies: when war is not at odds with chivalry
One such history occurred on September 2, 1942, during World War II, near Kienow, China. An aircraft was detected by Chinese military forces , and two American pilots, then flying for the ROC Air Force (the famous "Flying Tigers of the 76th Fighter Squadron), took off with their Curtiss P-40 Warhawk fighters to intercept the intruder , thinking it to be a Japanese aircraft.
When they intercepted the intruder, the American pilots were surprised to see that it was a Curtiss P-40B fighter , an older version of the fighters that they themselves flew, with roundels that had not been used since the beginning of the war (those of the white star with a red circle in the center). The plane was in very poor condition and had bullet holes. Also, the plane did not have the left wheel of its landing gear. Approaching the P-40B, the American aviators saw that the plane's pilot appeared to be unconscious or dead.
The two American pilots followed that plane for a while, until it finally began to descend and crashed into a rice paddy. After that event, a group of American pilots from the 76th Fighter Squadron, including Colonel Robert Scott, were guided by a group of Chinese guerrillas to the place where the P-40B had crashed. Scott was able to recover a partially burned journal and a packet of letters from the plane. Unfortunately, they were unable to bury the pilot, as a Japanese patrol appeared in the area. The diary and letters recovered from that P-40B were sent to military intelligence. And there the track of this story was lost.
In 1943, Time magazine published the mysterious story of that ghost plane. As the website The-Wanderling.com explains, a 16-year-old boy, Curt Norris, from Norton, Massachusetts, read that story. Two years later he joined the US Army Air Forces and was stationed in Bataan, Philippines, where the ghost plane story was still circulating.
After the war, Norris dedicated himself to investigating this mysterious story, until he finally met Milton McMullen , a former US Army sergeant who was stationed with the 19th Bombardment Group in Mindanao, Philippines. After hearing the ghost plane story at a veterans meeting, McMullen said he had worked on the plane. He and other Americans stayed in the jungles of the Philippines fighting the Japanese after they invaded that country at the start of the Pacific War.
They managed to collect a couple of P-40 fighters that had crashed in the jungle , and with their parts they were able to get one of the planes airworthy. During a takeoff test, the plane's left wheel broke, and they had to make a skid out of bamboo poles that would come off on takeoff.
Finally, they opened a small landing field in the jungle. On September 2, 1942, someone took off the plane without the American soldiers knowing who it was. McMullen suspected that it was an American pilot who had been hiding in the jungle, like them. Shortly after, McMullen and the rest of the American soldiers hiding in the jungle were captured by the Japanese. They lived through a terrible captivity. Of the entire group, only McMullen survived. Thanks to him, today we can know the origin of that mysterious legend. Of course: to this day the identity of the pilot who made that last flight in that P-40B remains unknown.
The YouTube channel Yarnhub , which I recommend if you like good stories , has published today a computer recreation of this fascinating mystery:
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AIR & SPACE MAGAZINE
The ghost army of world war ii.
In which a special unit used inflatable tanks, sound effects, and phony radio broadcasts to confuse the enemy.
A top-secret military unit—that would become known as the Ghost Army—was formed in June 1944, just after D-Day. Made up of artists, designers, radio operators, and engineers, the unit conducted “deceptive missions” to mislead the enemy. Their story is the subject of a new book by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles titled The Ghost Army of World War II (Princeton Architectural Press, 2015).
Four separate units worked together, note Beyer and Sayles: The 603 rd Engineer Camouflage Battalion Special—379 men—used inflatable rubber tanks, trucks, artillery, and Jeeps to trick enemy aerial reconnaissance observers gathering intelligence. The Signal Company Special—296 men—carried out radio deception, impersonating radio operators from real units. The 3132 Signal Service Company Special—145 men—specialized in “sonic deception,” playing sound effects to simulate the clatter of units moving and operating. The 406 th Engineer Combat Company Special—168 men—provided security for the other Ghost Army units, and also helped with construction and demolition.
The unit is credited with 21 different deceptions, write the authors, and are credited with saving thousands of lives. The book—beautifully illustrated with the soldiers’ original artwork—is filled with never-before-published documents. Deadline Hollywood reported on June 16 that The Ghost Army of World War II has been optioned by Warner Bros .
Click on the gallery to see more images from the book. Images are reprinted with the permission of the publisher. The Ghost Army of World War II by Rick Beyer and Elizabeth Sayles. Published by Princeton Architectural Press, 2015.
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Rebecca Maksel is a senior associate editor at Air & Space .
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Haunted World War II: Soldier Spirits, Ghost Planes & Strange Synchronicities Paperback – October 8, 2018
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ON HALLOWED AND HAUNTED GROUND
Discover the paranormal legacy of the Second World War. In this book, you will encounter dozens of phenomena in the European and Pacific theaters as well as historic locations in the US where the spirits of the dead are unable―or unwilling―to let the past go.
- The ghost of an admiral gives a tour of the USS Lexington
- Tourists at Dieppe are haunted by the terrifying sounds of battle
- A full-body apparition appears at Schofield Barracks
- Ghost tanks are witnessed patrolling the Russian front
- Phantom footsteps shock the guards at Hickam Air Force Base
- Ghostly soldiers knock on doors at Iwo Jima
- A spirit-sailor keeps eternal watch at Pearl Harbor
This book also shares fascinating stories of supernatural warfare. Learn about wizards and witches in England casting spells to hold the Germans at bay; Dion Fortune and the Fraternity of the Inner Light working magic in support of the Allies; and Aleister Crowley waging a psychic campaign to capture high-ranking Nazi, Rudolf Hess. Haunted World War II explores the high strangeness and haunted aftermath of the most devastating clash of nations in living history.
- Print length 264 pages
- Language English
- Publisher Llewellyn Publications
- Publication date October 8, 2018
- Dimensions 5.25 x 0.54 x 8 inches
- ISBN-10 0738755796
- ISBN-13 978-0738755793
- See all details
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From the Publisher
On Hallowed and Haunted Ground
Discover the paranormal legacy of the Second World War. In this book, you will encounter dozens of phenomena in the European and Pacific theaters as well as historic locations in the US where the spirits of the dead are unable—or unwilling—to let the past go.
- And many others
About the author.
Matthew L. Swayne (State College, PA) is a journalist who currently works as a research writer at Penn State. He has also worked on writing projects with Paranormal State 's Eilfie Music. Matthew is the author of five books, including Haunted World War II .
- Publisher : Llewellyn Publications (October 8, 2018)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 264 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0738755796
- ISBN-13 : 978-0738755793
- Item Weight : 12 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.25 x 0.54 x 8 inches
- #2,212 in Ghosts & Hauntings
- #3,207 in Supernaturalism (Books)
- #17,285 in World War II History (Books)
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- Warfare History
Secrets of the Past: 6 World War II Mysteries That Will Leave You Baffled
World War II is the bloodiest conflict in human history as it led to the deaths of tens of millions of people. As the war was conducted on such a vast scale, it is inevitable that there are a number of unsolved mysteries. In this article, I will look at 6 World War II mysteries although one of them is probably a myth. Continue reading to find out more about missing people, treachery, a ghost plane, possible UFOs and more.
1 – Hitler’s Missing Globe
The official name given to Hitler’s Globe is the Columbus Globe for State and Industry Leaders. It was a special globe specifically designed for Hitler and the Nazi Party, and it was made in Berlin in the 1930s. There were two limited edition globe designs; one was given to the Nazi Party while Hitler received the other and kept it in his office. Other versions of the two designs were created and given to high-ranking party members. While the Nazi Party globe was made from standard wood and had no defining features, Hitler’s edition was an expensive product that was almost the size of a standard Volkswagen car. In it, Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia) was changed to Italian East Africa.
The Fuhrer’s Globe gained international recognition when depicted in Charlie Chaplin’s ‘The Great Dictator’ movie in 1940. The legendary comedian used an inflatable version to mock Hitler’s megalomania, and the real version was moved to the new Reich Chancellery in 1939 where it stayed until the Russians took the building in April 1945. Photos from the end of World War II show Russian soldiers standing beside Hitler’s globe in triumph. It is assumed that one of the soldiers put a bullet through Germany on the globe and for decades, the globe with the bullet hole in a museum in Berlin was believed to be the real one.
However, in 2007, a retired cartographer named Wolfram Pobanz is convinced that the globe in the German Historical Museum in Berlin is not the same one received by Hitler. There are three globes in Berlin, two more in Munich and a few more dotted around the globe with a few strong candidates in Poland. According to Pobanz, the version in the German Historical Museum has a unique base that suggests it was made for Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Nazi’s foreign minister.
Pobanz’s search is made difficult by the fact that there is no way of knowing how many globes were produced. The Columbus factory and its archives were destroyed during air raids in 1943. In 2007, an entrepreneur named Bob Pritikin from San Francisco purchased one of the globes for $100,000. He bought it from John Barsamia who found it in the ruins of the Eagle’s Nest in 1945 during World War II. However, it is unlikely that it is the original Hitler Globe and its whereabouts remain a mystery. Even Pobanz is stumped and has suggested that it could be in Moscow.
2 – Foo Fighter UFOs
During World War II, Allied pilots used the term ‘foo fighter’ to describe the unexplainable aerial phenomena they encountered over the skies in European and Pacific theaters of conflict. The United States 415 th Night Fighter Squadron was the first to encounter and report these unusual sightings, and it originally coined the term ‘foo fighter’ to describe a specific UFO. These sightings were reported from November 1944 onwards, and the phrase was used to describe anything in the skies that couldn’t be explained.
At first, witnesses believed foo fighters were secret enemy weapons. One of the first reports of a foo fighter came from three members of a Bristol Beaufighter crew in November 1944. They were flying along the River Rhine north of Strasbourg when suddenly; they witnessed 8-10 bright orange lights flying at high speed off their left wing. Oddly enough, neither ground control nor the airborne radar picked up anything. The lights vanished when one of the pilots turned his plane towards them.
Another recorded incident happened on December 22, 1944, when an Allied pilot was flying at 10,000 feet in enemy territory. The wary pilot was expecting to see a German plane at any moment, but instead, two giant orange balls started flying towards him in the darkness. The pilot’s radio operator also saw them and couldn’t figure out what they were. The balls leveled off and followed the plane. The pilot desperately tried every evasive maneuver in the book to shake off the glowing balls, but they kept pace for several minutes before suddenly disappearing.
After World War II, a former member of a Germany army technical unit, Rudolf Lusar, released a book outlining the various German war inventions such as the V1 and V2 rockets. The book also had a chapter entitled ‘Wonder Weapons’ and Lusar claimed the Germans had created a series of small aircraft which were automatically guided and jet propelled. They carried klystron tubes to give off electrostatic discharges which would interfere with the electrical systems of Allied plane engines.
While Lusar’s detailed description is similar to the foo fighters reported by the Allies, the fact is, no shots were ever fired during any encounter. If the Germans developed planes capable of automatic flight that could track enemy planes, they would have armed them with something other than klystron tubes. The American military has offered a number of possible explanations.
One suggestion is that the oddities were caused by St. Elmo’s fire. This is a term used to describe a weather phenomenon which can result in the formation of an electrical glow around the tips of planes. However, St. Elmo’s fire is not known to create spherical objects. Ball lightning is another theory as it does form a sphere, but it only lasts a short time and would not be capable of following planes. A simpler explanation is that the tired and nervous witnesses of the lights imagined the whole thing. Whatever the reason, no one has yet come up with a satisfactory theory that fully explains foo fighters.
3 – The P-40 Ghost Plane That Turned Up a Year after Pearl Harbor
The date was December 8, 1942; a year and a day after the attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 2,403 Americans and acted as the catalyst for the United States’ entry into World War II. The American Navy was on duty at Pearl Harbor when suddenly, its radar picked up an odd reading. It seemed as if a lone plane was making its way from Japan and heading right into American airspace. The radar operators were puzzled. It was late evening, and the sky was overcast; previous attacks never occurred under those conditions.
The Americans decided to take no chances after what happened just over a year previously and sent two pilots to intercept the craft. When they reached the plane, the pilots were shocked to find out that it was a P-40 with markings that hadn’t been used since the Pearl Harbor attack. Once they got near the plane, they found that it had been shot to pieces and its landing gear was destroyed. They also saw the plane’s pilot slumped over the cockpit; his suit stained by fresh blood.
Incredibly, the pilot moved slightly, saw the two planes, smiled and waved meekly. The plane plummeted into the ground and crashed in a field. When the two pilots investigated the crash site, they found the wreckage but no sign of the pilot. The search team also found a diary that showed the plane was stationed on Mindanao, approximately 1,300 miles away. The lack of landing gear made it an extremely difficult mystery to solve. How could a pilot survive the attack on Pearl Harbor for a year? Moreover, how did he manage to land and take off with no landing gear?
As it happens, most historians believe they have solved this mystery, and the answer is very simple: It never happened. The source of the tale is a work of fiction by Robert Lee Scott Jr. who fought in World War II as a pilot. The first chapter of ‘Damned to Glory’ is entitled Ghost Pilot and it is effectively a longer version of the strange tale of the P-40 plane. The main difference between the book and the oft-told story above is that the two pilots flew from Kienow Airdrome in China to intercept the plane. Decades later, Scott admitted that he was stunned to learn that his tale was still told as some kind of unexplained mystery and said he wouldn’t have written it if he knew it would be taken as fact.
4 – The Identity of the Person That Betrayed Anne Frank and Her Family
The Diary of a Young Girl is one of the most famous works of literature to come from World War II. It is a 2-year diary from the perspective of a teenage girl who was hiding from the Nazis with her family. The author’s name is Anne Frank, and she is one of the most discussed victims of the Holocaust. The Franks secreted themselves in hidden rooms behind a bookcase in the building where Anne’s father, Otto, worked in Amsterdam. They remained there from July 1942 until August 1944 when they were captured by the Gestapo. Anne and her sister Margot were transferred to a concentration camp in Bergen-Belsen, Germany. Anne died there in February or March 1945.
Historians have argued about the identity of the person who betrayed the Frank family and are no closer to reaching a consensus. On August 4, 1944, police raided the warehouse where the Franks were staying and arrested a total of eight Jews. How the police learned of the Jews concealed behind the bookcase has always been a mystery. There are a number of people suspected of betraying the occupants of the concealed room, but none of them have been definitively identified as the culprit.
According to Anton Ahlers, his anti-Semitic father Tonny was responsible. Tonny was a member of the Dutch Nazi Party and had found a letter that incriminated Otto Frank. Otto had expressed his doubts over a German victory to an acquaintance that wrote a letter outlining Otto’s thoughts and was intent on sending it to the Gestapo. Tonny found the letter and used to blackmail Otto. Perhaps Otto refused to pay more money and was betrayed?
Otto was the only member of the Frank family to survive the camps, and he believed the betrayer was a warehouse employee named Willem van Maaren. Van Maaren has always protested his innocence. Another suspect was Lena Hartog-van Bladeren who also worked at the warehouse.
Yet another theory suggests that no one betrayed Anne Frank and the others. The ‘Sicherheitsdienst’ police that found the fugitives normally investigated cases involving money; they certainly didn’t specialize in weeding out hidden Jews. As it transpired, the police were investigating reports of illegal employment and fake food ration cards. Their discovery of Anne and the others was completely unexpected. However, despite dozens of suspects and various theories, the mystery of who betrayed the Anne Frank and the other seven people (if anyone did) will probably remain unsolved forever.
5 – The Disappearance of Raoul Wallenberg, Liberator of Jews in Budapest
Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish businessman, architect, and diplomat who also happened to be one of the great unsung heroes of World War II. This remarkable man risked his life to save tens of thousands of Jews in Hungary. He used his position as a special envoy to provide protective passports to Jews and shelter others in buildings that were designated as Swedish territory.
Sadly, he was detained by a Russian counter-intelligence group called SMERSH during the Siege of Budapest in January 1945; he was later accused of espionage by the Russians and sent to the notorious Lubyanka in Moscow. Reports suggest that he died in prison on July 17, 1947, but no conclusive proof has ever surfaced nor are there any details surrounding the circumstances of his death. What is also a mystery is the reason why he was arrested in the first place.
Recently, the Russians released information that suggested Wallenberg did not die on July 17 in Lubyanka Prison. In an eight-page document, the Federal Security Service (FSB) wrote that Wallenberg was probably “prisoner number 7” who was interrogated in prison six days after his reported death date. If this is true, then it means Wallenberg was subjected to a far greater level of abuse than previously thought. If he was actually ‘prisoner number 7′, he could have been executed immediately after the interrogation or sent to a prison such as Vladimir which is located around 250km from Moscow. Diaries belonging to former KGB chief, Ivan Serov, suggest that Wallenberg was executed under the direct orders of Stalin.
As for the reason why he was arrested, it may be due to his association with Iver Olsen of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services which was the forerunner to the CIA. One Soviet spy apparently believed that Wallenberg’s humanitarian motives were a cover for the fact he was a double agent for the Americans and Germans.
Wallenberg was more or less abandoned, and Sweden did not even ask for information relating to him for several years; his home nation simply believed the Soviets when they said he was not in the USSR. He was formally declared dead by the Swedish Tax Agency in October 2016. Whether or not he died on July 17, 1947, it is certain that this humanitarian suffered terribly at the hands of the Soviets before they finally executed him.
6 – The Vanishing Treasure Chest – Where is the Amber Room?
The incredible Amber Room was considered to be the ‘Eighth Wonder of the World’ and was a gift to Peter the Great to celebrate peace between Russia and Prussia in 1716. It was created in Prussia and construction began in 1701 but when Peter saw the room and expressed his admiration, King Frederick William I offered it as a gift and had it shipped to St. Petersburg in 18 boxes. Czarina Elizabeth moved the room again, this time to the Catherine Palace in Pushkin in 1755.
The already impressive room was expanded and renovated, and when completed, it covered 55 square meters and contained approximately 13,000 pounds of amber and other valuables. The amber panels were adorned with gold leaf, and historians believe the room was worth around $400 million in today’s money.
When Hitler initiated Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the Soviet Union, on June 22, 1941, approximately three million soldiers entered the USSR. When the marauding German army entered Pushkin, the curators of the Catherine Palace desperately tried to disassemble and hide the precious Amber Room, but the Germans found it, tore it down within 36 hours and shipped it to Konigsberg (modern day Kaliningrad) in 27 crates. It was reinstalled in the city’s castle museum. In late 1943, the curator of the museum, Alfred Rohde, was told to dismantle the Amber Room yet again and store it elsewhere. The city was bombed by the Allies in August 1944. At that point, the trail of the Amber Room went cold.
Historians tried to come up with theories as to the whereabouts of the Amber Room. Some believe that Rohde did not follow orders, so it was destroyed in the bombing of the city. Another theory is that the amber was loaded onto a ship and is located at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Such theories have not dissuaded treasure seekers who continue to search for the Amber Room in the same way that explorers kept looking for El Dorado. One problem with the search is that Leonid Brezhnev ordered the destruction of Konigsberg Castle in 1968; this act made it impossible to investigate the last known location of the Amber Room.
An intrepid group of senior citizens believes the room is hidden beneath the city of Wuppertal in Germany and began drilling to find it in 2016. There is also a suggestion that the treasure is hidden beneath the Mamerki Museum in Poland. However, no one has found any proof of the existence of the room in any of these locations.
As an aside, there is apparently a ‘curse’ on the Amber Room as a number of people connected with it met untimely deaths. Rohde and his wife died from typhus while a Russian intelligence officer died in a car crash immediately after talking about the Amber Room to a journalist. A German Amber Room hunter was murdered in a Bavarian forest in 1987. Construction of a ‘new’ Amber Room began in 1979 and is now on display in the Tsarskoye Selo State Museum Reserve which is located just outside St. Petersburg.
2024 WORLD WAR TWO CALENDAR
GHOSTS, A TIME REMBERED-2024
The FORTY-FOURTH edition of the Ultimate Aviation Calendar.
- 12 magnificent air-to-air color photographs of the combat aircraft of World War II by Master Aviation Photographer Philip Makanna
- Each month is suitable for framing
- Plus our unique chronological history of the aviation events of the war
- Plus specifications and silhouettes
- Each page 20" x 14" - Opens to 20" x 28"
Aircraft Included: North American P-51D “Mustang” Curtiss P-40C “Tomahawk” Lockheed P-38L “Lightning” Republic P-47D “Thunderbolt” North American (AT-6) “Harvard” Supermarine “Spitfire” PR Mk. XI Hawker “Nimrod” Mk. II Douglas SBD-5 “Dauntless” Hawker “Hurricane” Mk. I Fiesler Fi 156 “Storch” Grumman (General Motors) TBM “Avenger” Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-3 “Canary”
** Note: We are unable to ship to multiple addresses in one order. Please create a separate order for each address you'd like calendars (books, etc.) shipped. Thank you - GHOSTS
More from this collection
2024 WORLD WAR ONE CALENDAR
2023 WORLD WAR TWO CALENDAR
2023 WORLD WAR ONE CALENDAR
This is what 8 U-2 Dragon Lady spy planes look like on an ‘elephant walk’
Eye in the sky, walk on the ground.
By Nicholas Slayton | Published Jan 7, 2024 12:37 PM EST
- Tech & Tactics
A U-2 spy plane is by definition not meant to be seen. It’s at its best operationally when it’s in the sky, tens of thousands of feet above the surface, watching its targets.
That said, they also look pretty cool when lined up on a runway as a show of “air power” as the Air Force put it.
On Thursday, Jan. 4 the U.S. Air Force’s units at Beale Air Force Base in California staged an “ elephant walk ,” essentially bringing out all of its planes for one long showcase of what it can do. It’s a display the military has been doing since World War II, with the Air Force staging one every so often, giving the public a glimpse at the fleet of aircraft.
Thursday’s one looked like this:
Those are several U-2 Dragon Lady spy planes with the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, lined up alongside the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron’s T-38 Talons and the 940th Air Refueling Wing’s KC-135R Stratotankers. Thursday’s showcase was the first elephant walk Beale Air Force Base has done in decades, according to the Air Force. There was no combat mission attached to this, no urgent response, simply a chance for the airmen at Beale Air Force Base to show off what their units are capable of mustering.
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The U-2 Dragon Lady has been in use by the Air Force since the 1950s. Last year it got fresh attention after documenting one of the spy balloons that floated over U.S. territory in early 2023. The pilot of one Dragon Lady even managed to get a selfie with the balloon in high altitude.
The Air Force intends to retire the U-2 in 2026, aiming to replace the Cold War-era spy plane with newer technology. However the service has said that until then, it intends to keep the U-2 Dragon Lady in service to avoid a loss of operational capability. So until 2026, opportunities like the U-2 elephant walk this past week are still possible.
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Nicholas Slayton is a contributing editor for Task & Purpose, covering conflict for over 12 years, from the Arab Spring to the war in Ukraine. His previous reporting can be found on the non-profit Aslan Media, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, The New Republic, The American Prospect, Architectural Digest, The Daily Beast, and the Los Angeles Downtown News. You can reach him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter @NSlayton and Bluesky at @nslayton.bsky.social. Contact the author here.
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US deploys historic U-2 spy plane amid Ukraine conflict and GPS interference in Baltics
Posted: January 6, 2024 | Last updated: January 6, 2024
The intensification of patrol flights and surveillance of Russian movements have become vital in ensuring the security of NATO countries. In light of this, Americans have decided to deploy their emblematic spy plane, the U-2 Dragon Lady. The aircraft was spotted over Denmark on January 5. Its operations primarily concentrate on the eastern regions of the Baltic Sea and surveillance of Kaliningrad, Russia, Finland, and Belarus territories.
Lockheed U-2 monitoring Russia
As reported in the media, the US intends to gather information about Russian activities aimed at disrupting the communication lines of NATO and other Baltic countries. The Lockheed U-2 plane is ideally suited for such intelligence operations as it has been designed to handle the most rigorous tasks since the Cold War era. It was most recently launched in December of the previous year when it was sighted over Poland, and it was once again observed over Denmark at the start of January.
The aircraft's unique design includes fixed containers for radar and photographic equipment, allowing the surveillance of objects located up to 298 miles from the side of the plane. Owing to this, the jet can effectively gather data from expansive and hard-to-reach areas. The aircraft can effortlessly ascend to a height of 88,583 feet above the Earth's surface and can carry out daily and night surveillance. The images captured by several cameras are transmitted to the command center in real-time.
The US is currently working on a successor to the U-2. Nevertheless, these aircraft were recently modernized to accommodate contemporary detection methods better. The upgrades include communication, navigation, imaging systems, new cockpit gear, and a new mission computer compatible with the new OMS (Open Mission Systems) standard being implemented in the US armed forces.
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Christian Oliver, ‘Speed Racer’ Actor, Dies in Plane Crash
Mr. Oliver’s two young daughters and a pilot were also killed in the crash, the police in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines said on Thursday.
By Christine Hauser
The film and television actor Christian Oliver, his two children and a pilot were killed on Thursday when the small plane they were traveling in crashed during a flight to the Caribbean island of St. Lucia, the police said.
Mr. Oliver, 51, who appeared in “The Good German,” “Speed Racer” and the TV series “Saved by The Bell: The New Class,” and his daughters were the only passengers in the single engine plane traveling from Bequia, an island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, when it crashed into the sea at midday, the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force said in a statement on Thursday.
In addition to Mr. Oliver and his daughters, Annik Klepser, 10, and Madita Klepser, 12, the pilot, Robert Sachs, was also killed, the police said. Fishermen and divers recovered the bodies and turned them over to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Coast Guard, the police said in a statement on Friday.
The aircraft “experienced difficulties and plummeted into the ocean” shortly after taking off from J.F. Mitchell Airport in Bequia, the police said. There was no further information about the cause of the crash, which is under investigation, they said.
Mr. Oliver was born in Germany and had dual citizenship there and in the United States, his agent in Berlin, Caprice Crawford, said in an email on Friday. He used the name Christian Oliver in his professional work rather than his full name, Christian Oliver Klepser, and divided his time between Los Angeles and his home country, she said.
Mr. Oliver worked with Steven Soderbergh in the 2006 film “The Good German,” with a cast that included George Clooney and Cate Blanchett. His other projects included a role in “Valkyrie” with Tom Cruise in 2008 and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” in 2023, for which he provided voices.
He had just finished shooting a new movie, “Forever Hold Your Peace,” and posted a photograph from the set on social media about a week ago.
Earlier this week, Mr. Oliver posted his last photograph “from somewhere in paradise.”
Mr. Oliver was co-producing “Forever Hold Your Peace,” a story about marriage fraud, with the director Nick Lyon. Mr. Lyon said in an interview on Friday that Mr. Oliver had texted him on Thursday morning about his plan to return to the United States to work on a scene on Friday.
“It was a big project for us,” said Mr. Lyon, who had also worked with Mr. Oliver on “Hercules Reborn” in 2014. “We had talked about it for years.”
An earlier version of this article. relying on information from the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force, misstated the ages of Christian Oliver’s daughters. Annik Klepser was 10, and Madita Klepser was 12.
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Christine Hauser is a reporter, covering national and foreign news. Her previous jobs in the newsroom include stints in Business covering financial markets and on the Metro desk in the police bureau. More about Christine Hauser