Greek Divers Lift WWII Bomber Wreckage
By NICHOLAS PAPHITIS, AP
ATHENS, Greece (Oct. 6) - Greek military divers Friday successfully raised the wreckage of a German World War II Stuka bomber from the sea off the eastern island of Rhodes, the air force said.
The Junkers-87 dive-bomber was shot down in 1943 and will be conserved and displayed at the air force museum at an airport near Athens, air force spokesman Col. Ioannis Papageorgiou said.
Papageorgiou said there was no trace of the two airmen's bodies.
"The plane was raised a couple of hours ago, and I don't know yet whether there are any remains inside," he told The Associated Press.
He said part of the plane's tail section appeared to be missing.
The two-seater's wreckage was located two years ago by a trawler, which caught it in its nets seven miles offshore at a depth of 492 feet, and dragged it close to the island's southern coast.
Air force experts believe the plane was part of a Luftwaffe squadron operating from Rhodes that lost several Stukas to allied ships and aircraft on Oct. 9, 1943.
"Once we locate the serial number, we will be able to identify the plane, what squadron it belonged to and the crew," Papageorgiou said.
Fitted with a screaming siren for maximum psychological effect, the gull-winged, single-engine Stuka was a feared symbol of Nazi military power.
Used in action in the Spanish Civil War, it played a major role in the German invasions of Poland and France, but was outdated and severely outgunned by allied fighters by 1943.
Out of some 6,000 aircraft produced between 1936 and 1944, only two survive intact in museums, while the wrecks of three more Stukas have been salvaged.
10/06/06 14:56 EDT