Tales from the Undersea: Supermarine Spitfire MK IX Trop


On March 7, 1944, a Supermarine Spitfire MK IX Trop plane crashed into the sea in an uncontrolled fall not far from Cape Kabala in Boka Bay As a result of the impact on the sea surface, it broke into several parts. Today, his remains lie scattered on the sandy seabed at a depth of 32 m. The position of this extremely unique locality in the Montenegrin sea is on a waterway, which in the season does not allow its sufficient valorization through diving tourism.

The Supermarine Spitfire aircraft has been developed since 1935 in Supermarine's UK factories. A Rolls Royce Merlin C-PV-12 engine was installed in the prototype K 5054, from which the Spitfire would later be born. The first Spitfire was unveiled in 1936 at the Royal Airforce (RAF) Hendon Exhibition. At the dawn of World War II, RAF units began to be supplied with the Mark I model. In the first years of the war, the RAF kept the Spitfire for the defense of Great Britain, and only in 1942 did the first planes fly to Malta, which was exposed to attacks by German bombers. The new Spitfire IX reconnaissance model that took part in the raids on Sicily proved so successful that it evolved into several versions. As many as fourteen RAF groups used these aircraft. They also joined allied air forces such as the USA, the Czech Republic, Poland, Belgium, Norway, France and Yugoslavia. 

Supermarine Spitfire IX Trop, the wreckage of which lies off Cape Kabala, was hit by anti-aircraft defenses from Kumbor during an attack on the Boktor Bay hydrobase. Leaving a trail of thick black smoke behind him, he continued his flight towards Prevlaca. Near Ross, it began to sink and crashed near Cape Cabala. The pilot jumped out of the plane and parachuted into the sea, where he was found by German ships, captured and taken to Zelenika.

Visibility on site is often challenging as is orientation underwater. The most prominent part is the Rolls Royce Merlin engine around which there are sheet metal parts. Not far from the engine is one wing as well as the rear part, that is, the tail of the plane with the direction and height rudder where the wheel with the rear landing gear is located. The central part of the plane with the cockpit and the remains of the electrical and hydraulic installation is located in the immediate vicinity. 

In the meantime, an initiative was submitted to the Administration for the Protection of Cultural Assets to declare this valuable historical site a cultural asset and protect it in order to shed light on stories from the Second World War for new generations.

/Photos and text: Darko Kovačević, expert associate for underwater cultural heritage and diving tourism/ 

Source: Boka News


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Tuesday, 16 July 2024

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