The plane

The Consolidated B24 Liberator was an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft in San Diego. The B24 is the world’s most-produced multi-engine aircraft. These planes saw extensive use in all branches of the American Armed Forces during WWII and even some of the Allied forces. The extensive bombing that took place over the Western European theatre was carried out by B4 liberator aircraft. This also included most of the heavy bombing that was part of the Italian Campaign between 1942-1943.

History

In early May 1943, Reggio Calabria was subjected to a series of aerial raids, culminating in the 6th May bombings. This saw two waves of B24’s, totalling fifty aircraft and coming from North Africa, drop 110 tons of bombs over the city, mainly targeting the harbour. One of these B24 aircraft developed engine trouble over the city and after jettisoning its bomb load the crew decided to fly back to Malta. The island has often used a haven for damaged aircraft returning from Sicily and Italy. Failed landing attempts at Luqa forced the 10-member crew to ditch the plane in the sea. The wheels of the aircraft were lowered when it hit the surface, flipping the plane upside down, and after floating for a few minutes, the tail section sank first. One member of the crew remains unaccounted for till today, whilst the other nine survived and were rescued by the Royal Air Force.

The dive

The wreck of the B24 Liberator was discovered in 2015 through a remote sensing survey and lies approximately 1.5km southwest of Marsaxlokk at a depth of 56 metres on a sandy seabed. The entire wing structure of the aircraft is extremely well-preserved, whilst the nose of the aircraft is destroyed and the cockpit is torn open, with the tail section lying beneath the main fuselage.

For the dive minimum Trimix certification is required.