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RAAF aircraft wreck survey digitisation

Daniel J. Leahy
10 October 2017

During the 1960s, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) produced two surveys of aircraft wrecks – one covered the Australian continent, while the other covered the islands north of Australia, including parts of what are now Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, and the Solomon Islands. These surveys included rough locations of aircraft wrecks that were known to exist or ‘last sighted’ information for aircraft that were deemed to be missing at the time. Most of this information was based on historical records from World War II and were only accurate to degrees and minutes, rather than being an accurate survey of wreck sites surviving into the 1960s.

Fig. 1 - Map from original RAAF Survey of Crashed and Missing Aircraft in Australia (RAAF, c. 1961)

These fifty year old surveys have now been digitized into the AviationHeritage.org database and can be accessed as either Google Maps through your web browser, or as downloadable Geographic Information System (GIS) shape files from the links below:

Disclaimer

It must be remembered that these are historical surveys and that the co-ordinates provided are known to be incorrect in many cases. Since the time that the original surveys were created, a number of these sites have been salvaged while missing aircraft have been located in areas other than those represented. A number of errors with aircraft types and serial numbers have also been identified with the original documents while conducting our transcription process. These surveys should therefore only be considered as modern representations of historical documents. Furthermore, these should not be considered as complete listings of every wreck, as a number of sites – many known since wartime – are not recorded.

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Dr. Gregory Gilbert from the RAAF’s Office of Air Force History for providing scanned copies of the original survey documents.

References

Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] c. 1961 Details of Crashed and Missing Aircraft in Australia. Unpublished survey.

Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] 1961 Royal Australian Air Force Survey of Aircraft Wreckage in Papua and New Guinea. Unpublished survey.


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