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Tulsamerican, the Legendary WW II Bomber

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Investigation carried out in the Department for Underwater Archaeology of the Croatian Conservation Institute has established that the aircraft wreck discovered in the waters off the island of Vis is the remains of an American Second World War bomber, known as Tulsamerican.

»Tulsamerican«, legendarni bombarder iz II. svjetskog rata

In early 2010, in the vicinity of the island of Vis, at a depth of 41 m, a sunken World War II aircraft was found. US archives contain data on 15 aircraft that were shot down in the immediate vicinity of the island. Therefore, the location of the discovery is not surprising, given that Vis was one of the Allied airfields, and as such it was an important station for refuelling or temporary landing of damaged bombers returning from their missions. The B-24 Liberator heavy bomber had a 33-metre wingspan, and a 20-metre long fuselage. It was armed with ten 12.7 calibre M2 Browning machine guns. It is the second aircraft found in the waters off Vis to date. The forward fuselage and wings, including the engines, have been preserved, while the tail has been found separated from the rest of the aircraft.

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Based on the historical data on the aircraft, the research team of the Croatian Conservation Institute's Department for Underwater Archaeology, working with outside associates, had already established the possibility that this might be a special find — the last Liberator manufactured at the Douglas factory in the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, out of a total of 18 thousand such aircraft. That is why it was subsequently named Tulsamerican.

When the identification plate was discovered and cleaned, the assumption was confirmed: it was indeed the B-24 J aircraft, Tulsamerican, bearing serial number 42-51430, famed during its active life and reported on by the press right up to its fall into the Adriatic Sea. Tulsamerican was part of the 765th Squadron of the 461st Bombardment Group, and flew her last mission to occupied Poland on 17 December 1944.

By Igor Miholjek and Vesna Zmaić
Contact: Igor Miholjek, conservator / archaeologist

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