WW II fighter plane to be recovered from swamp near Smolensk

WW II fighter plane to be recovered from swamp near Smolensk

A joint Russian-French expedition is expected to recover a wartime fighter plane from a swamp near the village of Byvalki in Smolensk region in a hope to find the remains of Captain Paul de Forges, a pilot of the Regiment Normandie-Niemen, who was shot down there on August 31, 1943.

"We’d like to find the plane, concealed inside which is the body of Paul de Forges, the Captain of the Normandie-Niemen regiment," French archeologist and historian Pierre Malinowski said. 

According to Malinowski, the specialists had drawn a conclusion on the location of the pilot’s body inside the plane after archival research and interviews with local residents who said they had seen a pilot inside the Yakovlev-9 fighter.

Excavation at the site of the plane’s collapse will take about 7 weeks, Malinowski said, calling it an extremely important venture.

A leading expert at the Russian Defense Ministry’s Expeditionary Center who represents Russia in this project, Konstantin Dirks, spoke about the role of the Defense Ministry.

"Reports on the project appeared in May 2018," he said. "Our organization engages in the search and recoveries by extending technological expertise. The 90th Detached Specialized Search Battalion does the exhumations and identifications, while the Expeditionary Center provides technical works."

"The Western Military District has delegated from 30 to 40 people to the effort," Dirks said. "A field camp will be put up for the crews of tractor trucks, lifting cranes and excavators."

"Also, the task force includes 8 divers and 5 exhumation experts from the Western military district," TASS cited him as saying.

The access roads from the field camp to the site of the plane’s collapse will be laid. The divers operating special equipment will begin to dredge the silt in the swamp after that. Upon completion of these works, the organizers will invite the French side to identification of the remains.

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