Exploring the Sunken Heritage of Midway Atoll:
Honoring the Legacy of the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway:
Background Information

Mission Plan

Mission Plan

Scientists will explore sunken aircraft associated with the Battle of Midway adding an important maritime heritage component to our understanding of the broader history of World War II in the Pacific. This year is the 75th anniversary of this significant event and this project aims to raise awareness and honor the legacy of the brave men who helped to turn the tide in the Pacific during the course of the Battle of Midway.

Midway Atoll: History Beyond the Battle

Midway Atoll: History Beyond the Battle

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and in particular Midway Atoll, became a potential commodity in the mid-19th century. Captain William Reynolds of the USS Lackawanna took formal possession of Midway Atoll for the United States in August 1867.

Do Sunken Aircraft Create Homes For Non-Native Creatures at Midway Atoll?

Do Sunken Aircraft Create Homes For Non-Native Creatures at Midway Atoll?

When the team of maritime archaeologists heads to Midway Atoll in May, they will work alongside a team of biologists who will be looking to understand the way that sunken aircraft (and shipwreck) sites create a habitat for alien invasive species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

Photogrammetry at Midway Atoll

Photogrammetry at Midway Atoll

Our main tool for documenting known sunken aircraft and any new discoveries during this expedition will be photogrammetry, which is a method of measuring distances between objects from photographs. These measurements and distances can produce three-dimensional imagery of models of sunken aircraft from the Battle of Midway.

Searching for Airplanes with a Magnetometer

Searching for Airplanes with a Magnetometer

At Midway Atoll, the shapes that the coral grow into often obscure and distort the imagery returned from side scan sonar. In these types of marine environments, looking for the ferrous, or iron, material is the best way to locate the cultural or man-made material. For this, we need a marine magnetometer.

Warbirds on the Seafloor: Sunken Aircraft Archaeology and the Search for Lost Planes at Midway Atoll

Warbirds on the Seafloor: Sunken Aircraft Archaeology and the Search for Lost Planes at Midway Atoll

Scientists have collected dozens of first-hand observations about aircraft wreck locations at Midway Atoll (in addition to aircraft loss locations based upon archival research). Based on discoveries made in 2014 and 2015 of sunken aircraft within Midway’s waters, we have a large degree of confidence in the locational accuracy of historical accounts of aircraft losses.

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