View Full Version : P-38 from glacier back in the air

28th Oct 2002, 12:38
Thought this might be of interest:


31st Oct 2002, 12:30
By sheer coincidence, got home last night and Mrs.Nopax had found me 'The Lost squadron' in the local library. Just starting on it now, and it is a truly amazing story.

Couple of snippets; the recovery project was partly sponsored by 'Winston' (the cigarette people) as it appealed to their outdoor man image (bit like Marlboro man) and a fair bit of the flying about on exploration over the snow/ice caps used single-engined Cessna 185's with no de-icing capability. Wonderful photo of two guys rocking the wings of the aircraft to free it from the ice so it could take off.

In short - quite fascinating!

31st Oct 2002, 21:19
message requesting a fix from any friendly ship. The story goes that it was picked up by a surfaced U boat who in perfect English gave them a vector some 45 degrees too far north putting them into Greenland. (The U boat captain subsequently claimed to have destroyed more enemy aircraft than the entire German surface fleet !!) Nice story if it was true - especially as no-one got killed.

2nd Nov 2002, 10:00
http://www.airliners.net/open.file?id=290099&WxsIERv=TG9ja2hlZWQgUC0zOEYtMS1MTyBMaWdodG5pbmc%3D&WdsYXMg=VVNBIC0gQXJteQ%3D%3D&QtODMg=SW4gQWFsYm9yZw%3D%3D&ERDLTkt=RGVubWFyaw%3D%3D&ktODMp=U2VwdGVtYmVyIDI5LCAxOTky&WNEb25u=RXJpayBGcmlra2U%3D&xsIERvdWdsY=NDEtNzYzMA%3D%3D&MgTUQtODMgKE=IkdsYWNpZXIgR2lybCIgb24gaXRzIHdheSBiYWNrIHRvIFV TQSBhZnRlciA1MCB5ZWFycyBvZiBjYXR1cmUgaW5zaWRlIHRoZSBpY2UgY2F iIG9uIEdyZWVubGFuZCEgQWZ0ZXIgcmVjb3ZlcnkgZnJvbSB0aGUgZ2xhY2l lciBpbiB3YXMgdHJhbnNwb3J0ZWQgYnkgc2VhIHRvIEFhbGJvcmcsIERlbm1 hcmssIHJlbG9hZGVkIGludG8gdGhlIHNtYWxsIGNvYXN0ZXIgTS9TICJMb3J lbGVpIiBhbmQgc2FpbGVkIHRvIEdvdGhlbWJ1cmcgaW4gU3dlZGVuLiBIZXJ lIGl0IHdhcyByZWxvYWRlZCBhZ2FpbiBpbnRvIGEgYmlnIGNhcmdvIHNoaXA gYm91bmQgZm9yIFVTQS4gQSB2ZXJ5IGV4cGVuc2l2ZSBhbmQgdGltZSBjb25 zdW1pbmcgd29yayBiZWdhbiB0byByZXN0b3JlIGhlciB0byBmbHlpbmcgY29 uZGl0aW9uIGFuZCB0b2RheSBPa3RvYmVyIDI4IDIwMDIgaXQgd2FzIGFpcmJ vcm5lIGFnYWluISBXaG8gd2lsbCBiZSB0aGUgZmlyc3Qgb24gQS5uZXQgdG8 gc2hvdyB0aGUgcmVib3JuICJHbGFjaWVyIEdpcmwiPw%3D%3D&YXMgTUQtODMgKERD=Mjcy&NEb25uZWxs=MjAwMi0xMC0zMA%3D%3D&static=yes

.....and here's what her Pilot said to me after her first flight. Hope you don't mind me posting this here Steve.... ;)

"It was fantastic. The whole story of the recovery and restoration of Glacier Girl made it special. The Lightning flew very good. There were no real problems. Bob Cardin and his crew did a first class restoration. Glacier Girl is light even with the guns and equipment, it has early Allison engines with very low ratio blowers wich gives it a lot of hourse power for take off. It only used about 1500 feet and accelerated and climbed out with a lot more ZIP then the other 38's I have flown. We only flew it 2 times so we don't know a whole lot about its performance yet. We plan to fly it again in a month or so.......STEVE "

3rd Nov 2002, 11:56
I wish the Kee Bird recovery project had turned out as well....

4th Nov 2002, 23:33
And then there's Mike Clancy's Hastings at 78N 40W. Just flew into the ice at about 8000ft doing a free drop to a Joint Services Arctic Expedition in the early 50s in a white-out. When I was last there in 66, you could just see the top 3ft of the fin and rudder sticking out of the ice. The scientists working near there got the starboard ASI out for me to present to the co-pilot who I knew.

Lord knows what condition she's in, but any Brit restoration attempt would be a non-starter.

There's a book on how they got the crew and RCT airdrop team out, called Rescue below Zero but I'm sure it's long out of print.

7th Nov 2002, 09:28
Tell me - was it pure coincidence that they located Glacier Girl first or did they locate all the others, found them to be too badly crushed and then re-focused on this particular P38?

Is there a DVD on the whole story? If so - it goes on my Christmas list!

The Hastings sounds exciting. How many more interesting aircraft are there to be found in the ice? I know of the Hercules that was re-engined and flown out.

A flyable Hastings would be great!

Such a pity about Key Bird.


7th Nov 2002, 14:28
Almost certainly they knew from USAF records the individual aircraft numbers and fairly accurate position of the P38s near Kulusuk on the East coast of Greenland. With most of the aircraft on the ice cap (and there are a heck of a lot of them), it was a case of being caught out by the weather or fuel - usually both, cos there wasn't (still isn't) a reasonable diversion available from Sondrestrom on the "spruce route" delivery trail to the UK in the war.

Sondy was known as Bluey West 8 during the war, with the more famous Bluey West 1 at Narsassuak down on the southern tip of Greenland. Most of the aircraft that didn't make it were ditched on the ice, and the crews rescued. Its pretty flat once you get away from the coastal areas and pressure ridges.

I recall when searching in 65 for a missing Mooney that had attempted to cross the cap, one of the aircraft "found" a B17 100 miles SE of Sondrestrom just sitting on the edge of the ice, resplendent in its US Army camouflage with guns in the turrets completely whole, like the B29 Ki- Bird. It happened to coincide with Arctic Aviation Week being run by Life magazine and Life managed to dig out the crew from all over the States and flew them back up there for a nostalgic look-see.

14th Nov 2002, 13:07
I'm getting further into the book now; the B-17 was the first aircraft to be located, purely thanks to it's size (they were using a radar device to look through the ice) They had a good idea of where they were, but the precise location was difficult to ascertain as they had several hundred feet of ice above them!

It was always the group's intention to bring back a single P-38; it was reckoned that was the best bet for attracting investors. However, the amount spent far exceeds the value of one of these; most investors wrote off what they spent. Once I get to the end of the book I'll do a little maths. I'm not knocking the guys who pulled this one off - it's a fascinating story, and they deserve a great deal of praise for their achievement.

26th Nov 2002, 13:03
Finished it - now back with Cambridgeshire libraries if anyone wants a good read!

As promised, a vague idea of the costs involved; I did a bit of adding up on costs where they were mentioned, and it came to US$ 2.9 million, PLUS restoration!!

Having said that, this included the purchase of a C-47 and a Cessna 185, which were later re-sold, but a lot of costs were not listed, not least the many thousands of volunteer hours. Of course this is divided between a lot of sponsors, not just the GES who eventually carried out the recovery. The B-17 that was found, 'Big Stoop', had been crushed by the ice and only a few bits and pieces were recovered.

The other five P-38's and presumably one more mangled B-17 remain in their icy tomb..............

With Duxford's record of bringing rare gems over for Flying Legends, maybe Glacier Girl will put in a trip to Europe someday!