VIDEO: World War II Bomber Discovered Near Zirje Among Most Well Preserved

Lauren Simmonds

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As Morski writes on the 2nd of August, 2020, the crashed German bomber Junker Ju 87 ‘Stuka’ from the Second World War was found in very good condition on the seabed on the west side of the island of Zirje six years ago.

The military aircraft was hit on April the 12th, 1941 in an artillery skirmish, in an attack by the Axis Powers on the warships of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia near Jadrtovac, from an artillery battery above Zaboric. The wreck is located at a depth of 26-28 metres, and the only thing missing is the engine that undoubtedly broke off when the plane met its fate and hit the sea’s surface. The rest of the plane is completely intact and in excellent good condition, the body of the plane is even leaning on its wheels, as if it had landed smoothly on the seabed, and the engine is located nearby.

”As for the research, I think that everything has been more or less done. The serial number of the plane was found and all of the other data according to it was obtained. The plane was in Italian service when it crashed. It took off from an Italian air base and one of the two planes which were struck down managed to return, and the other fell into the sea near Zirje,” said Igor Lemac, from the team of divers who have been diving together for years and who dived to this location over recent days. Daniel Frka is the author of the fantastic photographs you can view by clicking the link above.

Along with the “Flying Fortress” B-17 found near the island of Vis, known for its military past, this is only the second aircraft that was found practically intact in the Croatian Adriatic. The value of this discovery is enormous, out of a total of 5,709 manufactured aircraft of this type, only two have been preserved in museums in Europe, more precisely in London and across the Atlantic in the United States – in Chicago, while two Ju 87 wrecks were removed and exhibited from Norwegian and Greek waters in far worse condition than the one found under the sea near Zirje.

According to the available historical data, the plane is most likely an Ju 87R-2 aircraft which belonged to the Italian Air Force of the time, which was damaged by cannon fire by the air defense of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in the April War of 1941, and as such had to be forced to land. In professional literature on the topic, information was found about the attack of three Italian Ju 87R aircraft from the 239th Squadriglia, 97 Gruppo Bombardamento a tuffo on April the 12th, 1941.

Britain’s Royal Navy were also stationed in the bays around Jadrtovac. On that occasion, two Ju 87s were hit. One of them crashed, resulting in the deaths of both the pilot and the radio operator. Another Ju 87 was forced to land on the sea surface due to damage, only to remain hidden from prying eyes at the bottom of the Croatian Adriatic close to Zirje to this day.

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