|Median: 9M Bottom: 10M
|On the east side of Ferguson Passage, not far from Joe’s Wall and Secret Spot, Solomon Islands
The Grumman F6F Hellcat was a carrier-based fighter aircraft designed to replace the earlier F4F Wildcat. There were over 12,000 produced, at a cost of just US$35,000 each. I’m not sure how many litter the ocean beds, but this particular Hellcat Wreck near Gizo is one of the most accessible airplane wrecks in the Solomons. Upright, intact and in just 9m of clear water it makes the perfect second dive, or even second morning dive, allowing enough deco for a third dive after lunch.
The Hellcat became the Navy’s dominant fighter in the second part of World War II, a position it did not relinquish.
The Hellcat was best known for its role as a rugged, well-designed carrier fighter which was able to counter the Mitsubishi A6M Zero and help secure air superiority over the Pacific.
Such was the quality of the basic simple, straightforward design, that the Hellcat was the least modified fighter of the war, with a total of 12,200 being built in just over two years.
This example is another intact fighter plane laid in 9 m of water that makes for a great bonus dive.
We save 80 bar from the first dive and spend 20 minutes flying around the plane taking shots from every angle.
The cockpit always looks a little bit tight to pop into to get a pilots view.
Though it’s very, very tempting.
The tailfins almost look like coral nurseries that we see elsewhere – a frame with young corals spaced out and growing on it.
Fortunately on this wreck the juvenile fish are elsewhere so we can get some clear shots of the metalwork, unlike in Munda where it was almost hard to see the shape of the wreck because of the juvenile fish.
Just off the wreck there are shoals of latticed Goatfish, Two-spotted snapper, yellow striped snapper, and soldierfish.
The wreck sits on the broken branching coral surrounded by fine branching coral. This means no silty sediment which means great viz. One of the most accessible airplane wrecks in the Solomons.