Dive Site: B17 American Bomber Wreck, Honiara, Solomon Islands

Section of fuselage at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

Site Overview

Site Type: Aeroplane wreck
Depth: Top: 10MMedian: 12MBottom: 20M
Location: 50m off the beach at Domo (or Ndomo), near Vilu on Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

Description

The wreck is the front half of a B17 (Flying Fortress) US WW2 bomber which failed to ditch safely (ie, on top of the water) on 24 September 1942.  During a salvage attempt in January 1944, the tail section behind the ball-turret gun was broken off and dragged ashore. The remaining forward section of the plane – front fuselage, wings and what was once a cockpit – is almost still in one piece, with the top turret still intact on top of the wreck.

Section of fuselage with snapper at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

The wreck lies on a 10m sandy bottom that can be silty after rain, so it’s best to get in first with the camera and shoot what you can before the vis gets stirred up, then get down and engage with the wreck.

Gun turret with Snapper at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

What used to be the cockpit has now largely disappeared but the controls are still there including the ‘joysticks’ and what I assume was a throttle lever.

Flight deck with control console at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

The plane still is recognisable as a plane, and the gun turret usually attracts the most interest.

Diver admires the guns at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

Most of the engine parts are slowly falling part, and I only found one part of a propeller standing upright now covered in soft corals.

Propellor with soft corals at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

The fuselage is rapidly becoming just a skeleton, though it does house schools of small and juvenile fish.

Small fish inside the wreck at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

Various bits of wreckage are scattered around, though I’m not convinced all of it is ‘original’.  I found a coral-encrusted bottle which I think more likely came from the local Solomons Solbrew factory!

Some kind of filter with fish at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

After a trip to each wing tip, plus about four circuits of the gun turret and controls, you eventually run out of things to photograph and the inevitable happens.

Deb and Captain Bronze at the controls at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

Well it was the last dive of the trip.  37 minutes all up.

Argonaut - closer at B17 Bomber diving Honiara in the Solomon Islands by Diveplanit

The dive site is a short 1.5 km drive away from the Vilu War Museum which is worth a quick look if you are interested in WW2 hardware.