Cold War Spy Plane Found in Baltic Sea

Stefan Lovgren in Stockholm, Sweden
for National Geographic News
October 10, 2003

When deep-sea explorers combing the Baltic Sea floor located a Swedish spy plane shot down by the Russians more than 50 years ago this June, they ended one of the more enduring mysteries of the Cold War.

The DC-3 aircraft and its eight-man crew were last heard from on June 13, 1952. A second Swedish plane, sent to search for the DC-3, was also shot down, though its crew survived after making an emergency landing.

For almost 40 years, Sweden maintained the DC-3 had been on a training mission. The Soviet Union claimed it didn't know what happened to it.

Finally, under pressure from family members of the crew, Swedish officials leaked that the plane had been spying on the Soviet Union for NATO, even though Sweden was officially neutral during the Cold War.

Then, in 1991, a Russian pilot told a Swedish diplomat that he had shot down the plane.

The Swedish military has said it will salvage the DC-3, which is in remarkably good condition on the sea floor.

But there are plenty of other mysteries that remain to be solved. The Baltic Sea may be littered with hundreds, if not thousands, of wrecks, from downed airplanes to sunken ships. Most are likely casualties of the two World Wars, but some vessels may date back as far as the 16th century.

During their five-year search for the DC-3, sea explorers from Marin Mätteknik (MMT), a Gothenburg-based marine surveying firm, and Deep Sea Productions, a media company in Stockholm, found several other wrecks.

"The Baltic Sea is like a massive graveyard," said Ola Oskarsson, the head of MMT. "If people only knew how many wrecks are buried there, the Baltic Sea would be swarming with divers."

Searching the Sea

The mission to find the missing DC-3 was spearheaded by Anders Jallai, an airline pilot who is also an entrepreneur and deep-sea explorer.

After locating a sunken Russian submarine in 1998, Jallai was asked by a journalist if he planned to look for the DC-3.

Continued on Next Page >>




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