Wrecked WWII plane found near Ore. coast still a mystery, but investigators getting clues

By Terrence Petty, AP
Friday, March 26, 2010

Clues emerge about WWII plane crashed in Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore. — A sheriff involved in investigating the wreckage of a World War II dive bomber found in the Oregon woods said Friday at least three U.S. Navy planes of that type apparently went down in the area from 1945 to 1948.

No human remains have yet been found by a U.S. Navy team and law enforcement officers at the crash site near the Oregon coast, not far from a Navy air station in operation during the war.

Tillamook County Sheriff Todd Anderson said he knows of reports of two Curtiss SB2C Helldivers going down in the Tillamook-Astoria area in 1945, and a third in 1948.

“We’ve got all kinds of clues and bits and pieces,” Anderson said.

Investigators are especially interested in the reported 1948 crash.

“That’s the one we’re looking at now, but we’re not eliminating others,” Anderson said.

Helldivers — a formidable aircraft that saw action in the Pacific — were among warplanes stored in hangars at Tillamook after the war.

Anderson said he has been informed by the U.S. Navy that investigators were close to identifying the airplane.

The investigative work includes going over old Navy records that document plane crashes and missing crew members.

The wreckage was discovered on March 18 by loggers working in the densely wooded area.

Anderson said among the wreckage, spread out over an area of about 200 yards, are a large section of the plane’s tail, sections of a wing and the remains of an engine. Some of the debris melted from the heat of the crash.

He said the plane apparently made a deep impact when it crashed, and some wreckage may still be buried.

A Navy team and law enforcement officials have secured the crash site as the investigation continues.

“If we’ve got a fallen war hero in the hills up there, or more than one, we want to make sure they’re treated with respect and are given back to family,” Anderson said.

It is possible more than one person was in the Helldiver, which carried a pilot and a radio operator-gunner.

will not be displayed