Cold War Spy Plane Found in Baltic Sea

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"My initial reaction was, 'No, it's impossible to find.'" Jallai recalled. "The area is too big to search."

But the more he learned about the incident, the more intrigued he became. Soon, Jallai was hooked.

Together with Carl Douglas, a historian who owns Deep Sea Productions, and Oskarsson of MMT, Jallai began planning an expedition to look for the missing aircraft.

The Baltic Sea, which separates Sweden from the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, can be unforgiving. During unsuccessful searches for the plane between 1991 and 1997, the Swedish Navy canceled several tours because of bad weather.

The private consortium's first two missions, in 2000 and 2002, also failed to locate the DC-3.

Although much had been written about the missing plane, the explorers had little to go on apart from old Russian maps and eyewitness testimony.

Eventually, they decided to ignore the results of previous, unsuccessful searches and revisit areas that had already been searched.

On their third mission, in June this year, they finally hit pay dirt.

Using sophisticated sonar radar, the team found the DC-3 in international waters east of Gotska Sandön, an island 75 miles (120 kilometers) east of the Swedish coastline.

Photographs and video from a remote-controlled deep-sea camera confirmed it was the missing plane. Sunk halfway into the sand almost 400 feet (120 meters) below the surface, the aircraft was found intact.

Because there is little oxygen at this depth, the wreck had barely deteriorated. The hull shows Sweden's national symbols of three crowns and what appear to be bullet holes in the side.

Although no human remains were seen, Jallai and Oskarsson believe the crew may be buried inside the plane.

Easy Target

At 11:20 a.m. on the morning of June 13, 1952, the air command center in Stockholm received an emergency call from the DC-3 plane: "We've been shot."

Another call in Morse code followed a few minutes later. Then nothing.

The Swedish military quickly dispatched a seaplane to search for the DC-3. But that plane was brought down by enemy fire and had to make an emergency water landing near a German commercial ship, the Münsterland, which was plying the Baltic Sea.

The Soviet Union admitted to shooting down the second airplane, claiming it had violated Soviet airspace, but kept silent on the DC-3.

The slow, bulky, and unarmed DC-3, nicknamed "Flying Hut" by pilots, would have been an easy target for a Soviet MiG aircraft.

The incident poisoned diplomatic relations between the Soviet Union and Sweden for years. Sweden, which was officially neutral in the Cold War, insisted the plane had been returning from a simple training mission when it was shot down.

Later, however, it emerged that the DC-3 was equipped with British surveillance gear to spy on radar stations in the Soviet Union at the behest of Great Britain and the United States.

Kept in the dark about their husbands' fate by their government, none of the eight widows of the crew remarried. Only two had their husbands pronounced dead.

After a Russian pilot, Grigori Osjinski, admitted to a Swedish diplomat that he shot down the plane, Evgeny Shaposhnikov, then Soviet defense minister, visited Sweden in 1991 and apologized to the relatives of the DC-3's crew.

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