Several items are leading us toward an answer to the riddle of identifying the aircraft wreck located in Saipan’s Lagoon. In previous post here, here and here you can trace some of the progress being made to make the identification.
Commonly referred to as “the B-29” dive site, it absolutely is not a Superfortress.
Recent dives with Harry have netted some of the photos seen above. Each of which needs to be matched for rivet lines, cowling ventilation holes, wing top access panel holes and other details to find exact matches.
The nose-or-tail gunner ‘bubble’ position could be from a Japanese Kawanishi H8K “Emily” flying boat used primarily for reconnaissance purposes. I have yet to come across a photo or drawing which proves conclusively that this gunner bubble configuration is from the nose of an H8K, although there are similarities. Certain window configurations and sight bubble locations are not found on any photographs of H8Ks. See photo above.
Another photo above shows a much oxidized metal identification plate in the possession of a local dive shop operator purportedly taken from the wreck site. If this provenance is correct the aircraft is definitely Japanese, unless one of the US aircraft manufacturers was using Japanese language on it’s metal part id tags. Perhaps the contents of this tag can be translated to give us a clue.
Meanwhile it may take a trip to Japan to see a restored H8K close up and make actual comparisons in order to put the matter to rest once and for all. I have researched scores of other aircraft types and ruled them out. One has to remember that in wartime, parts are scavenged off of non-working aircraft and grafted onto working models in order to keep them airborne so finding exact matches may continue to be difficult.
Additional information will be posted on this site until a definitive, provable answer is found. Please stay tuned.