An amazingly preserved Nazi fighter plane that went into battle with 17 others against an American force of almost 1,000 planes has finally been recovered almost 80 years after it crashed into a lake in Hungary.
The plane was covered in mud after being shot down during fierce fighting on 2nd July 1944, when the Americans launched their largest-ever air attack against Hungarian targets.
The Royal Hungarian Air Force was able to send just 18 fighters into battle against an incredible 620 four-engine bombers and 300 accompanying fighters of the United States 15th Air Force.
Most of the Hungarian fighters were downed and three of the fighters were killed, including the pilot of the crashed plane, platoon leader Sandor Beregszaszi. His body was recovered from Hungary’s Lake Balaton, but the location of the plane was then lost for decades.
It was eventually found thanks to the painstaking research work of Ensign Karoly Mago, a military historian who located it in September 2020.
Together with a team of divers, they found the fighter plane lying under 70-80 centimetres of mud that appears to have helped preserve it.
Despite the minimal visibility, it was possible to bring a few pieces of the wreckage to the surface, and a decision was made to recover the rest because of the remarkably high quality of the remains.
The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was attached to the Hungarian Air Force, which fought alongside the German Luftwaffe during World War II, with the 18 pilots praised for their incredible bravery on what was for several of them a suicide mission as they tackled the much larger American force. It is believed the pilots of the other planes that were shot down survived.
And now Beregszaszi’s plane has been pulled from the lake encased in mud and silt, with video footage of the recovery showing the plane’s twisted propeller and cowl being winched from the water with what appears to be the engine crankshaft on 10th October.
Other parts, like exhaust pipes and the plane’s battery, are seen being cleaned up by experts from the modern Hungarian Air Force and military historians.
Local media reported that the Messerschmitt was found under nearly a metre (2.6 feet) of mud, in Balatonakarattya, Veszprem County.
Mago said: “This find is special because, apart from the one that has now been found after
nearly 80 years, there is no other surviving Hungarian Messerschmitt fighter aircraft known in the world.”
In a statement obtained by Newsflash from the Hungarian Ministry Of Defence, a spokesman said: “The wreckage of the aircraft produced under license at the Magyar Waggon és Gépgyár in Győr represents an inestimable value not only from the point of view of military history but also from the point of view of industrial history.”
Local media reported that five expert units worked to bring the aircraft and a large number of its weapons to the surface.
Mago explained: “Cleaning is the first and most important part of the procedure so that everything is in the right condition by the end of the excavation.
“We also continued to clean the riverbed.
“It turned out that much more sediment had been deposited on the wreckage than we expected.
“Our primary task now is to clean up the area around the wreck and, of course, the wreck itself.
“We need to be able to measure exactly how big the piece of wreckage is.”
Hungary’s wartime pilots flew alongside the German Luftwaffe after the country declared itself an Axis power in 1941, at first joining Hitler in his war with the Soviet Union as of June 1941, before declaring war against the United States in December 1941.
The Messerschmitt 109 was the backbone of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force and was famous for its speed and manoeuvrability but it was eventually beaten in the air by the Spitfire.
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Story By: Georgina Jadikovska, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
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