Guwahati: Remains of a Second World War plane have been unearthed from the jungles of Papum Pare district in Arunachal Pradesh.
A team of young locals from Kimin circle led an expedition to the wreckage site on January 10 after hearing stories from the village headman of a plane crash during the WWII.
Taba Nobin (26) and six others embarked on a grueling trek through treacherous terrain to reach the site and return. “We recovered two 14-cylinder radial engines of an aircraft,” said Taba.
The team started their trek from the Bogi Nadi area bordering Assam and Arunachal, 82km from Itanagar, and reached the site after trekking for two days on foot.
The only essentials they carried for their first expedition were a GPS unit, a camera and ration. While a part of the wreckage remained above ground, another part of the aircraft that got buried when it crashed had to be dug out. Taba is now eager to help experts discover more from bits of wreckage they returned with.
“We weren’t equipped to haul the heavy debris back home. But we have marked the site with GPS and have documented this discovery with photographs,” he said.
Allied pilots in the Second World War had named eastern end of the Himalayas as ‘The Hump’. It was the main air resupply route from India to China during the Second World War after the Japanese captured Burma. More than 400 airmen are supposed to have gone missing in air crashes while crossing ‘The Hump’.
While Taba and his team are still looking for help to know the aircraft type, they are spending hours on internet to gather knowledge. “We think it’s an American aircraft, but it has to be verified by experts,” he remarked.
The US government’s Defence Prisoners of Wars/Missing in Action Accounting Agency (DPAA) had been conducting searches at different sites on Indian soil since 2008 for remains of US personnel missing since WW II. In April 2016, India handed over the excavated remains of the B-24 Liberator ‘Hot as Hell’ crew and the C-109 Army Air Force crew from two sites in Arunachal Pradesh at a repatriation ceremony held in New Delhi.
The Hot as Hell crew was part of a formation of five B-24s from the 308th Bomb Group, 425th Bomb Squadron, flying a supply run from China to Chabua, Assam on January 25, 1944. The crash site at Damroh in Arunachal Pradesh was reported in 2006 by Arizona mountaineer Clayton Kuhles, who had climbed the region’s mountains as a hobbyist for years. The C-109 was also lost on ‘The Hump’ during a flight from Jorhat, Assam to Chengdu, China. Around 20 crash sites have been identified by American authorities in the region, most of them in Arunachal Pradesh.