Dive Site: Hellcat Wreck Dive, Gizo, Solomon Islands

Cockpit from the port wing at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

Site Overview

Site Type: Airplane Wreck
Depth: Median: 9MBottom: 10M
Location: On the east side of Ferguson Passage, not far from Joe’s Wall and Secret Spot, Solomon Islands

Description

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.

Plane from the front at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

The Hellcat became the Navy’s dominant fighter in the second part of World War II, a position it did not relinquish.

Diver above the wreck at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

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.

Hellcat from the tail at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

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.

Diver above the engine at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

This example is another intact fighter plane laid in 9 m of water that makes for a great bonus dive.

Fuselage to cockpit at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

We save 80 bar from the first dive and spend 20 minutes flying around the plane taking shots from every angle.

Port wing at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

The cockpit always looks a little bit tight to pop into to get a pilots view.

Probably plants at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

Though it’s very, very tempting.

Diver above the plane at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

The tailfins almost look like coral nurseries that we see elsewhere – a frame with young corals spaced out and growing on it.

Tail plane looks like a coral bed at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

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.

Soldiers and snappers hang nearby at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit

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.

Wreck with diver for scale at Hellcat Wreck diving Gizo in the Gizo by Diveplanit