The aircraft, a US-manufactured Curtiss P-40, was discovered six kilometers off the coast of the Taman Peninsula by a Bolshoi Desant 2017 (Big Landing 2017) expedition that was scouring the area looking for remains of Soviet airplanes and vessels lost in 1943 during the Kerch-Eltingen amphibious landing operation.
The search party then contacted the construction workers building the Crimean Bridge across the strait and asked them to help lift the wreck.
"We immediately supported the search group when they sought our help. Our whole team, each and every one of us came forward… For us it was a tribute to the warriors who fought for our future. We know what kind of pitched battles were fought on the shores and across the strait; we know the price of that victory and cherish the memory of that triumph," Igor Demyanenko, captain of a crane vessel involved in the recovery effort, said.
The plane’s fuselage, which weighed about 3.5 tons, was lifted from the seabed with the help of a crane vessel.
"This is an almost perfectly preserved plane… When we were cleaning it up we even came across perfectly preserved fragments of paint," Viktor Vahoneyev, deputy chief of the Black Sea Underwater Research Center, said.
He also added that the aircraft will be eventually put on display at the 29th Coastal Battery of the Russian Black Sea Fleat’s Kerch Coastal Defense Fortified Sector.
The P-40 fighter aircraft were supplied to the USSR by the US during WWII as per the lend-lease program. From 1941 until 1944 the Soviet Union received over 2,400 of this type of aircraft.