Update to “Recent find on Mili” story of Nov. 25

Mili Wheels 4

Researcher Les Kinney recently forwarded the above photo, provided by Dick Spink, of two very old, rusted steel wheels attached to axels that were found by Spink on the same Endriken Island where he found the plate and the dust cover (see Nov. 25 post). The axels, according to Kinney, are about 4 to 4.5 feet long, and the wheel diameters are about 20 inches. Nothing more specific or detailed about these wheels is currently available, and they are now believed to be in the possession of the Marshallese government.

Of course we wonder what these artifacts were doing on such a remote, otherwise unsettled spit of land in the Marshalls, but at this time we’ll leave any speculation for later.  Anyone who has any ideas about the origin, provenance or function of these axels and wheels is encouraged to contact us.

It appears that the story of Dick Spink’s fascinating discoveries on the tiny Endriken Islands in the Marshalls has only just begun. 

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51 responses

  1. They look like rail cart wheels, you can google and see them on the web on ebay.

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    1. Yes, they do look like rail cart wheels. Left behind by a coconut or guano operation? Maps in Edwin Bryan’s 1941 book “American Polynesia and the Hawaiian Chain’ show many islands with old ‘tramways’.

      [img]http://www.jarvisisland.info/maps/Edwin_H_Bryan_Jr.png[/img]

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  2. Perhaps compare them to torpedo or bomb dollies of WWII vintage. See if they look Japanese or American in origin. Could be images on the web. Visual and general in nature, but who knows?

    Too bad a metal sample could not have been taken. Science today has advanced to the point that they can place the year or origin of manufacture by means of scientific wizardry. Or any manufacturer markings or markings of any type on them.

    Hopefully Mr.Spink may be allowed full investigative permission. I wish him the best of luck !

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  3. Ian –
    Yes they do look like rail cart wheels – except why is there an inner lip to them? That inner lip or *ledge would make you think railway wheels and that they would fit into a piece of track. Notice the molded rim and the 5 spokes, looks 1930’s to me.

    Vernon –
    I don’t see bombs being loaded onto airplanes on Mili Atoll. Something was being moved around there, like an airplane, and these wheels were probably the trick.

    Doug

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  4. To me these axles look like part of a marine railway system. Where I grew up in the 50s in Scituate, Mass. The boatyards all used these, cranes were too expensive, I imagine. True, the tides were much higher there than on Mili Atoll, but the system was, they ran the cradle down the rails to the bottom of the rails. At high tide the boat would float onto its cradle and when the tide went out the boat settles down on the cradle and was hauled out. The reverse method was used launching a boat. I wish my illustration showed the wheels with flanges, but obviously they are there. Possibly these wheels were used to haul up moderate sized boats. If the plane landed on the reef I suppose it’s possible they built a cradle under it and hauled it down a long railway rather than dragging it down the beach, so that it was within reach of a ship’s crane. It’s hard to picture how it would be used with a plane but those wheels look plenty big enough for an 8,000 lb. plane I think it was. Maybe the Japanese or Marshallese had many of these systems in the 30s. Certainly there weren’t any mobile cranes on these isolated islands, so if you had to haul a large boat out of the water, this would be the way to do it in those days. And I imagine many boats were hauled out for whatever reason. Perhaps they had portable tracks just for this purpose.

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  5. Don the Realist says: These wheels could have had Thousands of reason for use.They could have been used in moving Earharts Lockheed,they probably were not used in carrying Bombs on Mili Attoll. The what – ifs are many. Where is a realistic “Fragment” of the Plane?

    Should the burning of the Plane occuring on Saipan be true, and many witnesses have came forth giving testimony, there will probably be no small, definitive parts available. Real interviewing of these people might bring up something new.
    One witness or more claim to having seen NR 16020 flying the day before the alleged burning. No delay on this matter, there may only be a handful of them still alive.

    Don Cox

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  6. Those are wheels off of a float plane cart. There are still a few intact carts on Taroa and a set in the water on the north coast with pieces of track spread around. I may have some photos. I’ve read that the Japanese would drop off floatplanes with mechanics and equipment at remote locations to do reconnaissance missions. The planes could be put on a cart in the water and then pulled on shore to work on. Some carts had rubber tires and track units had cast wheels like on the old ore cars.

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  7. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taroa_Airfield
    I just looked up Taroa on Wikipedia. What is this reference to Amelia Earhart’s plane being there in 1944. I never heard that story.

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  8. I would also recommend viewing the small, old – Saipan Sugar Cane Train photos. There is a small, metal, wheeled cart which was towed behind.

    On a different note concerning the Japanese reign of terror. Nakamura Tadaski, a school teacher in Yamaguchi -ken in the 1930s wrote, “police spies & informants were everywhere. The authorities willingness to fabricate evidence & charges meant that not even the most innocent person was safe.” The police did not respect individual privacy. The populace remained silent, terrorized into obedience. My friend Haruno Yoshie was confronted on a train, while we were riding together, by a policeman who found her diary in her luggage and read it. ‘You’re a RED!’ he shouted. She was taken off the train and never seen again.”

    The Chinese philosopher Confucious would have been dragged off to a forced labor camp or executed!

    Doug

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  9. A clarification:
    I did not attempt to imply a specific use, rather a generic one. A rail system such as this could be used for a variety of reasons. I did not intend to imply it would be used exclusively for bombs or torpedoes. Could be used to routinely cart supplies of any nature to a secure point. Munitions, and quite possibly an airplane.

    I guess further research will clarify the issue. However, it looks exceptionally promising to me. The wheels, carts, dollies, rail system may have had many generic uses, or field expediencies.

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  10. Vernon –
    A tested metal sample of the wheel sets, would give us a date to work from. A number or marking on the wheels, if visible would answer more questions. You would think a Japanese stamping might be seen somewhere in the casting.

    As for moving the Electra by cradle & rail, you wonder how many men would be required in this task? Obviously the Japanese knew what they were doing & some level of experience at it.

    Doug

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  11. To get underneath the heavier motors & wings of the Electra, you would need Walker jacks or Hi -Lift jacks. Some of these jacks had a weight capacity of 3,000 lbs. & several feet lift range. A railroad lift was capable of 3 tons.
    This would have been the first stage before tracks & cradles were slid underneath for support.

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  12. Doug:
    I’ve been searching the Web for photos of Japanese aircraft under repair or routine maintenance, jacked up, with no success. I’m sure they did as you stated ( I have no experience or knowledge in such matters ), but are there any living witnesses or participants to the incident?

    I am speculating only at this point: Would the Koshu have had an Aviation Maintenance Team ( Ex: for emergency repairs on seaplanes ) who could have supervised removal of engines, the undamaged wing, etc, in order to make removal and transportation to the barge easier?

    It’s a thought only. But to become a theory or fact, there would have to be a living witness to the event: a participant ( forced native labor ) or someone who witnessed it who was not involved but close enough to observe ( a child- say from 7 to 12 years old- old enough to remember a major first time ever event such as this )..

    Native witnesses: Are there any who described the event in detail? Sketched it for Mr. Spink?

    In closing, the wheels, in all likelihood can certify the country of origin: Mill or manufacturer stampings, metallurgy analysis, etc. Can’t wait to see how this turns out !

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  13. http://z15.invisionfree.com/72nd_Aircraft/ar/t125.htm
    I think this picture shows the wing attachment construction on the L-10 where there is a “girder” running through the cabin which you have to step over to get to rear of plane. Looks to me like the wings would not break off very easily, would only bend due to this heavy construction method. Maybe this would make it easier to lift the plane (onto a cradle). I’m just guessing here. If the plane actually landed on Mili, there would probably not be a portable crane around to use sling attachments, but I could be wrong about that, too.

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  14. Vernon & David –

    I did see a *wheel cart on tracks being pulled with ropes by Japanese soldiers. I typed in [Japanese soldiers] on a yahoo search and scrolling through photo’s spotted a train wheel cart with wooded top and bombs ontop or tied to top of cart and being pulled.
    Vernon you were right that these wheel carts were used for such purposes.
    These wheel carts were used to move heavier objects. Were they then applied to the Electra’s moving? I don’t know for certain but it’s possible. Why else would they be there and Dick Spink stumbling upon them and of all places.

    Go to yahoo or google search and type in [Japanese Soldiers] and view the photo’s until you come across the wheel cart being pulled by Japanese soldiers.

    Good work gentlemen and lets try and piece this puzzle together.

    Doug

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  15. Vernon & David –

    I finally found the photo. Type in [Japanese soldiers towing artillery shells] on yahoo search.

    Bringing up the big twenty-eight centimeter shells

    historyimages.blogspot.co.uk

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  16. Vernon & Doug-
    I very easily found the picture of the Japanese soldiers pulling a cart along tracks. So if these wheels belong to a cart, where is the rest of the cart? Where are the tracks? I found that the word Endriken means “small islands” in Marshallese which apparently surround Barre Island. It would be nice to be able to view the area, I suppose I would have to actually go there, but I don’t know what that would prove. Maybe the Japanese had pre-fab track sections in those days which they picked up after they were done with moving shells or whatever. There would be no reason to leave them on what seems to be just a “spit of land”. They left their big guns around, but there wasn’t one here, so maybe the cart was used for something else. What could that be? Why do the wheel appear broken? It would take quite a bit of force to break pieces off them, wouldn’t it? Maybe the cart body was just sat on top of the axles with no real attachment like railroad wheel sets are. Could those wheels be older than the Japanese mandate? I suppose a close examination of the wheels, though badly rusted, might show some marks or lettering. Somehow, I don’t think that will happen. It would just show possibilities, not proof of anything. If these “Endriken Islands” are just tiny sandy protuberances there would certainly be no reason to have carts there unless it was a special occasion.

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  17. David –
    You pose some very good questions?
    Damage to the wheels could be from weak metal, water corrosion, age or too much force applied. I would think the cart or top to these wheel sets were stripped for the wood or metal framing. Or were these sets from a cart that broke under stress of weight?
    They might have been extra wheel sets that were not used.
    It seems the only reason for them to be there, was something needed to be moved.

    Were the Japanese so preoccupied with moving the Electra onto the barge or Koshu and transporting up to Saipan; that they accidentally left the wheels sets & piece of track behind? Did they simply forget to take them?

    It’s very unusual for wheel sets from a train track to be found on such a small, barren island out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
    I don’t think these were used to move coconuts.

    Doug

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  18. David:
    Being a novice, I have no easy answers to your questions. But here’s an example: ( This is all hypothetical ) Suppose the Japanese cut a very wide path, say 30 feet-50 feet wide, and laid down two sets of parallel railroad tracks and multiple dollies ( say 4 to 6 minimum) Then the Electra could squeak through to the awaiting barge on the lagoon side. It’s possible shear weight of the airplane, if slightly off balance, could have damaged one of the carts/dollies.
    A truly scientific metallurgic analysis can identify the origin of manufacture. And you’re correct in guessing that they may not be Japanese. The Marshalls were a German Colony up to WWI. Then again, they could have been left behind by the Germans, to be utilized by the Japanese.

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  19. Vernon & David –

    I found some older pictures of Japanese aircraft which appear to be
    resting on top of a wheeled platforms. Type in a yahoo search –
    [ Encyclopedia of Japanese Navy Military Aircraft 1910 – 1945 book japan ww2]

    *Scroll down several photos and view some older aircarft – 1920’s type and resting on top wheeled platforms.

    Doug

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  20. This is a completely different subject, About which I have been writing to Mike, He suggests I put it on this reply box because where else am I going to put it so others will see it.

    Thanks for another helpful reply. I just now searched a little on Google for some info on Jaluit radio. I found this entry which I will send you the link.

    http://www.ameliaearhartmovie.com/lostflightgrouplfg.html

    There is even a little bio of you. Now here’s what I think supports my view. On this link there is some discussion about the Jaluit AM radio station. Paul Rafford believes they could have blown a fuse on the dynamotor in the transmit section of the radio. But it is said that the receive section apparently was OK. Then it is said that there is a switch to switch between the main receiver and the DF loop antenna receiver. I don’t know if the two are part of the same radio receive apparatus. But supposedly there is nothing wrong with the receiver anyway. Rafford, or somebody in the link says they could tune into the Jaluit AM radio with their DF.

    I’m not saying they did. But wasn’t Noonan the expert? If anybody knew this he should know it. What I’m saying is if they were flying the LOP as they seemed to say, and supposedly their problem could have been they didn’t know whether they were north or south of Howland. Well, by getting a bearing on Jaluit they would know for sure whether they were north or south. Yes, it’s not a wide difference in bearings because the bearing to Jaluit is rather close to their LOP, but after flying for a while it would change enough, if they were north of Howland flying north it would be a bearing Northwest after a while. Then, to locate their position if they were not flying the LOP 157/337, they could use Jaluit radio to take a bearing. Right?

    Then they fly the bearing 90 degree off that bearing, either direction. They have a pretty good idea of their groundspeed let’s say. They fly for an hour then take another bearing on Jaluit. Now they have a right triangle with their flight path the “opposite” leg of the triangle. Using their trigonometry table they can figure the length of their hypotenuse and their bearing from Jaluit and they know exactly where they are without using LOP. I have heard this technique described I don’t know what the name of it is but it can be done. Now this doesn’t prove they did that. But Fred, being the world’s greatest navigator had to have known how to do it. If anybody did. So I say, unless they were dumber than a high school graduate truckdriver which I am they could not have been lost. Anything’s possible I know.

    Ultimately, whether they were lost or not their fate is not in question. But I am curious to see what they were doing and why when they assuredly landed on Mili. I’m just requesting your view on my contention of using the DF with Jaluit radio to do what I just laid out.

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  21. Here is a completely different subject from the wheel. It is my contention that AE couldn’t have been lost if she availed herself of a DF fix on the Jaluit radio station, which PAA knew about and I’m sure Fred did too. Whether they availed themselves of this opportunity I don’t know, but my contention is they were never lost and could easily have found Howland if they wanted to.

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  22. David –
    *Excellent observation of the fix on Jaluit radio station. I commend your insight with the right triangle & trigonometry table.

    Doug

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  23. David & Vernon –

    As for the wheel sets, a flatbed platform on top the rail wheels, would provide a leveler rest for the Electra’s wider underbelly.

    Doug

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  24. The trouble is, when Spink finally finds the “smoking gun” on the Endriken Islands the establishment will allow, in fact endorse, the tired old theory that she “got lost” she f…ed up, and mistakenly landed on Mili. That will placate those who were intelligent enough to question the “crashed and sank” theory. It’s a good fall back story. But it won’t answer the question, “What was she really doing?” She may have never been anywhere near Howland. I wish I could go to Barre. I wish I knew more about what a 30s pilot would do if she were forced to land on that terrain. What an airplane salvage operation would look like. I bet she had plenty of fuel left. My guess is when she landed they buried the film canister(s). It doesn’t make any sense that Fred would bury his personal items box containing his mother’s rosary beads or something like that. I think the Japanese soon retrieved their films. So there was nothing for Knaggs to find. The Japs may have forced AE to make SOS radio calls. Maybe on their radios, not hers. I bet the Japs were on her within hours. Mili is fairly close to Jaluit. Perhaps 60 miles to Majuro. They could get there in a fast boat. I don’t know where that “discovered by a fishing boat” story comes from.

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    1. David, the ” fishing boat story” as you have called it, originated from newspaper articles written by Japanese newspapers on July 7th. It was then published in several US newspapers starting on the 9th of July. I have several perion papers with the article. I would also point out that there weren’t a lot of fast boats in the area in 1937, but there were seaplane operations everywhere. You may want to read ” Japanese Seaplane Operations in the Pacific” by Dirk Spenneman. It’s an online article.

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  25. A question:
    Photos of the Marshall Islands – possible Japanese military installations. Taken at night ? At 5-10,000 feet ?

    Remember, that range of height was the optimum altitude for easterly flight. Now, if she descended to say 1000 feet, I’m still not even sure she would have gotten any photos worthy of merit in darkness. Then, she would have to climb to optimum altitude again, which results in excessive fuel burn..

    And remember, a coverup doesn’t have to necessarily involve photo-espionage. If she landed on Barre deliberately, to “visually observe” military installations, she…and FDR… might have suspected that the Japanese would welcome and cherish the title of being Amelia’s saviors. They didn’t. So, anything she did see, went to her grave with her.

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  26. Gentlemen I don’t put much stock in Amelia taking photographs of Japanese military installations by night; but rather *visual white surveilancing.

    In 1929 Hungarian physicist Kalman Tihanyi invented the infrared -sensitive (night vision) electronic television camera for anti -aircraft defense in Britain. It’s not until 1947 that the U.S. military & Texas Instruments created a infrared line scanner camera.

    I think Amelia was was very low on fuel if not empty. Consider the strong *headwinds and already loosing 9%.
    She had no choice, but to put the Electra down where she did, or ditch into the sea. All this makes me wonder why pontoons or floats were not attached to the Electra in Lae? You have a huge ocean to cross and nowhere to land except on water.

    Amelia & FDR were more than aware of Japan’s warnings to stay out of their territories.

    Doug

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    1. Yet in the January 1935 Aero Digest, there’s an article about infrared compound cameras and film that were in use that could take photos through clouds and haze. They had an effective range of 250 miles.

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  27. Doug:
    Pontoons / floats and their associated appendages would add weight, which results in less fuel to carry, drag, which increases consumption of fuel, and the need for training prior to this Lae to Howland leg. Open water (ie: ocean) landings are difficult at best. Even a lagoon landing is difficult due to underwater coral heads which could rip the pontoons / floats apart and cause a jack knife effect. Seabees in WWII normally dynamited coral heads to create “underwater runways”- marked by buoys – and free of underwater obstacles.

    Taking photos: I don’t buy it either. Aerial photography for intelligence purposes involves a lot of training. Amelia didn’t have time to learn correct RDF principles.

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  28. Woody –

    I have not read about these infrared compound cameras from 1935. As you stated, they were in existence and could photo through clouds & haze at 250 miles. Fascinating to learn this information and I thank you for sharing.

    Vernon – your right about added weight, more fuel consumption and the dangers in landing pontoons. Although Amelia flew in a pontoon plane across the Atlantic with Wilmer Stultz & Louis Gordon in 1928. The Pacific Ocean is nearly twice the size as the Atlantic. Lockheed could have designed wider, load baring pontoons that retracted under the wings that prevented drag.
    As everyone knew, there were higher risks, added dangers and more fear to the Pacific Ocean flight. They should have played it safe by adding pontoons and ships for refueling every quarter of the crossing. Amelia must have known, flying that far and for that length of time, fatigue would be her greatest adversary.

    Doug

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  29. At the present time, there is a major dispute between Gillespie and one of his closer members regarding the authenticity of that scrap of aircraft aluminum. Has to do with a former member of Tighar having a clear photo of the airplane , totally disproving the rivet spacing and rows, I believe. It’s too confusing for me to really follow the technical end. Anyone interested would have to read and interpret it for themselves.

    It’s a shame the Spinks artifacts could not have been evaluated by this time. If they had, and had been confirmed as authentic,
    it would have slammed the door shut on this Gardner Island nonsense, and opened the door completely on the Milli Atoll landing / Saipan capture & execution premise.

    The Dolly remnants, in my view, are secondary. The two aircraft parts are the key. My view only. If there is a link, one or both will secure that link.

    As respects the Smithsonian, no one takes magazine articles seriously anymore. The true Earhart researcher tossed Gillespie out the window years ago. The uninformed reader doesn’t know him, finds the scrap interesting – nothing more. The more enlightened and serious followers and researchers are open to every possible theory. The article’s intent as to Page One “news” was to sell – nothing more.

    Year’s ago they ( Smithsonian ) ran a cover story on the Brewster Buffalo. Horrible plane ! Death Trap ! Consider the pilot lost before they leave the ground !

    What they didn’t say was that the Marines at Midway, the Dutch in the East Indies, the Brits, Australians, and New Zealanders all had minimal flying hours. Most, under 200 hours. The Japanese pilots averaged 1500 flying hours, and the Zero. There were no “Battle of Britain” veterans in the Far East. Nearly half of the VMF-221 pilots were Second Lieutenants right out of flight school. It was Pop Warner against the NFL.

    The Finns flew the Buffalo with astounding results: A lot of Log Book time, smart tactics, Group tactics, and knowledge of your enemy’s limitations. They retired their last Buffalo in 1948 or ’49.

    I take nothing these magazines publish seriously. Never have. Casual reading only. Your day will come. Then you can thumb your nose at them.

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  30. Woody-

    Thanks for the info on that fishing boat story. It makes sense the Japs would make that up, of course it might be true. As soon as I posted “fast boats” I remembered the multitude of seaplanes there. Too late to change my post. My opinion is that the Japs were able to track her all along. When she landed or she was shot down or forced down it might have taken them an hour or two to get to her. The Japs did not want anyone to know their capabilities with the Direction Finders they had, which I have read were much more advanced than ours. Of course that would mean that any distress calls she made were under the supervision of the Japs. Or they might have left her on Mili for a few days because they knew she wasn’t going anywhere. There is a school of thought that the Itasca and AE did have secret equipment that did allow them to track each other, but if that were made public it would tip the Japs that she was intentionally flying to the Marshalls. That same school would maintain she flew directly to the Marshalls or flew over Truk first, and she would arrive at the Marshalls in the morning not at night. It seems hard to believe she would think she could get away with it, but maybe she did. As for Gillespie and his sheet metal, I believe it’s very possible, in fact probable she wasn’t flying her original plane at all. Why would they fix up a wreck for this most dangerous mission when there were plenty of new L-10 and L-12s around for her to use on this risky mission? Rafford strongly suspected a plane switch and with good reason, I think. You may ask what Facts do I have to back all this up? It comes from my reading of the “way out” theories which I think make more sense than the conventional wisdom. Rafford, and I think Bellarts did not think she ever intended to fly to Howland. I say at least not initially. But if she got away with her Marshall Island overflight she could then have proceeded to Howland.

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  31. David:
    These are all interesting thoughts and theories regarding the various factors encompassing these many factors supporting the Saipan hypothesis.

    I believe Japanese RDF capabilities were no more advanced than ours. The British had (perhaps) the best, the “Huff Duff ” system. I believe it was in use by this time. Not sure. But one has to reflect on the superb commercial RDF system Pan American Airways had in operation in the Pacific commencing in 1935. Never lost one of their Clippers due to RDF inadequacies.

    A larger question looms: Just how many transmissions did she make prior to the “200 miles out” one, and of what duration were they in order to secure a fix by the Japanese?

    Even more fascinating was her use of Lae and not Rabaul as a departure point to Howland. Many air miles could have been saved. An overflight of the Mandates is much closer. And Rabaul had a better airfield than Lae.

    Finally: A possible plane switch. It would involve dozens of people including civilian mechanics in her employ. Think for a moment. This would involve installing the auxiliary tanks and all the associated plumbing into a second aircraft. It would also involve final aircraft preparations with her personal mechanics, one of whom was Ed Gorsky. He saw her off at Miami, and lived well into the late 80’s-early 90’s. Never said anything about it. Was not in the military. Therefore no oaths of secrecy required. Not in Lockheed’s employ at that time. Had absolutely no reason to remain silent. No reason whatsoever. Yet never a word from him on this theory.

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  32. Vernon-
    The reason they didn’t use Rabaul was because Rabaul was destroyed by a volcano eruption on 29th May, 1937. Whew! Figured that one out OK.
    I believe they were picked up by the Japanese on July 5th. I still think the Japanese knew where they were all along. Wasn’t the Aircraft carrier Akagi in the area at the time along with a naval task force?
    Why is that aerial photograph of Taroa with the airplane with one wing declared NOT to be Amelia’s plane? It certainly does look like a twin-tailed monoplane and the Japanese built no plane like that during the war. If that’s where it was it seems very doubtful that it was moved to Saipan. I see where Taroa was bombed beginning in Jan. 1944 whether the famous picture was taken then or later I don’t know. But the idea that the plane was repaired and then flew to Saipan after the bombing commenced doesn’t seem likely. If that was AE’s plane. I would like to know more about that photo and who made the judgment it was not her plane?

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  33. Rabaul airport ( the original ) was open during and after the eruption. Supplies were actually flown in. Check the Net. It’s out there.

    I believe IJN Akagi was supporting the Japanese invasion of China. Until airfields were seized or established, the Japanese Army had to rely upon Japanese naval aircraft for support.

    The Taroa wreck: The Japanese has twin tailed aircraft. Again, check the Net. They had many twin tailed types, I believe the engines on that wreck do not match the P&W’s on Earhart’s Electra.
    EX: The Mitsubishi “Nell”.

    Who really knows if the Electra was repaired and flown to Saipan? Amelia and Fred in a hurry. Yes. But the Electra? If it was inspected and found to have no cameras, it was no advanced design that the Japanese could or would want to reverse engineer.

    The Electra could have been loaded and barged or freightered there. We cannot even be sure the Japanese made it airworthy. No records exist of same. They may have tinkered with it in their spare time. Who knows?

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  34. I agree the Electra was no advanced design. At least her original that may have been repaired. I would think you were talking about an inspection of her original plane and it had no cameras. Did anyone actually view or inspect that one winged plane on Taroa? Or was it bombed to smithereens?
    So then why didn’t she use Rabaul airport? Any mention of that in her records? I have never seen that mentioned before.
    If she actually flew her old wrecked plane, how come? Weren’t much more advanced planes then available like the L-12? If she needed all the range she could get and/or she was going to do some quasi-spy mission, why not fly the best? I don’t really think she was paying for it, not even the old one, she got “donors” to pay for it. I haven’t read her story about their finances after she wrecked her first one.

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  35. I don’t feel like searching the Net for hours trying to find when the Rabaul airport re-opened. What little I found (on TIGHAR forum) made me think that the airport may have been questionable at the time she was making her flight plans for New Guinea. I don’t doubt they flew in supplies there beginning at some point, I don’t know when that was. Maybe it was just a case of at the moment the plans were made Rabaul airport was closed and it means nothing. What possible advantage either spying or not spying could the flight from Lae instead of Rabaul have had? I’m sure there was nothing the Japanese could have learned from AE’s original plane, they could have bought one themselves I would think. But, if she flew a different advanced plane with advanced DF and latest aerial camera equipment, they may have been very interested. In fact, given the huge numbers of crashed airplanes in WW2 and before that were never moved, why would they move hers if there was nothing to learn from it? In fact, if the Japs wanted to make a case for her spying, wouldn’t they just leave the plane there on Mili so they could point it out as evidence? Once they move it, it could have come from anywhere, maybe it did float and they just towed it onto a barge and moved it to Saipan. The best place to study a plane would be at an airport like Taroa or Aslito, I would think. That weak theory about their wanting to display it after they won the war is worse than weak. The best place for them to display it would have been right where it landed on Mili.

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  36. Gentlemen –

    I was studying the Endriken map with thumb tacks marking the locations of the dust cover & APU plate. I wondered why weren’t these pieces found out on the reef, where the Electra landed?
    As we can clearly see, they were found apart, in alignment on the western side of Island. Did they fall off as the Electra was being pulled by wheels carts; or were they dragged off and from underneath by the underbrush, uproots and rOcKs of the partially cleared path, where the rails had been laid?
    If the platformed wheel carts were positioned in the center of the underbelly, this would leave the right & left engine undersides exposed to cut foliage,stems, sticks and RoCkS. This would allow these pieces to come off unnoticed. (just a thought)

    Doug

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  37. Gentlemen –

    In order to lift the Electra, a jack would be needed, first underneath one wing/engine side and then to the other. Braces put into place and then the tail end lifted for a triangular upright balance. The rails & carts could be slid underneath; jacks lowered and the plane’s belly resting upon the platformed wheel carts. A dozen or more soldiers could have been used to either push the Electra along or pulled it by ropes on the track. They made have macheteed some of the path, judging from the wing span, as the plane was railed along.

    Doug

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  38. Vernon,
    I agree that Rabaul was a better airport with paved runway and it was open or all 3 were open during the volcano. Only thing that crossed my mind, maybe it was shorter than Lae’s grass runway and possibly they didn’t think her plane could take off from there. Otherwise, even if there were mechanics they needed at Lae, where they did a fair amount of maintenance, apparently, they could still have hopped to Rabaul and filled the tanks and taken off from there. I suppose it would be hard now to find out how long the runways were. apparently there is no record of any of them even discussing the possibilities. Nobody today that I know of thinks this is of any interest except you and me. Do you know of anybody who has commented on this quirk over the years? It would be like giving the plane an extra 3 hours or 400 more miles range.
    Of course my other mystery is why the Japs moved the plane at all if there was nothing to be learned from it?

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  39. David –

    There would be numerous reasons why the Japanese wanted the Lockheed Electra.

    1) Proof they had an *American aircraft in their territory.

    2) Their *interest to study this new airplane better.

    3) They could use it to their *diplomatic & military advantages.

    4) Show it off as a *PRIZE

    5) Share it’s *technology with others.

    They were not about to leave it laying out on a reef for others to see and have at it. If a Japanese Zero had landed in Kansas in 1937, the U.S. Military/Government would be on it like chocolate.

    Doug

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  40. Doug,

    That’s all very true, but for reasons 1, 3, and 4 they could have left it where it was. If they take it to Saipan and put it on exhibit how do they prove or convince anyone it landed in the Marshalls. Someone could think AE landed on some remote Gilbert Island and they happened to find it first and towed it away. Or it could have landed on Gardner and AE and Fred and the plane were snatched away before the Navy came searching for them. I would think if they wanted to use it for propaganda, it would be best to leave it where it was and exhibit it to the world right there. In fact, the Japs never were interested in 1, 3, and 4 because they never did any of those when they had a chance to. There was nothing to stop them.

    I proposed they removed it because there was some new secret technology they wanted to study. I got shot down on that, maybe right here in this forum. Somebody claimed there was no new technology, and I agreed, her original plane was relatively common. The Japs easily could have bought a used L-10E and studied it all they wanted to. Where I differ is I suspect it’s possible it was a different plane, a new plane, with some advanced equipment on it that could not be investigated very well on a reef on Mili. The Zero analogy to me is not exactly the same. The U.S. might have had some difficulty getting their hands on a Zero in those days but if the Japs had landed a common commercial plane easily available by everybody in those days, in Kansas, there wouldn’t be much of a fuss by the Military. What I would like to know is how many B-24s or P-47s or any modern U.S. military planes that crashed were moved to Aslito Field or Taroa or anywhere? None that I know of and I’m sure there was much to study on any of those planes for the Japs. So that’s my thinking, and like others have said, each detail that’s learned about her flight leads to 2 more questions.

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  41. David –

    Thanks – always enjoy your comments. Trying to find answers to some of these questions is no easier than trying to read tea leafs.

    I think the Japanese, with their strict rules of conduct & law, presumed Amelia & Fred were spying and falsely accused them. They hated us Americans for intruding into their territories. We have to think back 77 years ago, that women in Japan were subservient and not equal to their men. For an American women pilot, dressed like a man & sporting short hair, to crash land into Japanese territory, must have raised quite the suspicion.
    Consider the military mindset of these Japanese buffoons and their daily appetite of cruelties, torture, enslavement and murder.
    You really don’t think these guys provided military tribunals & lawyers to the less fortunate?

    I think the beginning of Amelia & Fred’s plight, in the Marshall Islands, seemed helpful & harmless by the local authorities. Although days later it turned ugly & awful; as they found themselves alone, without any help or representation from a U.S. diplomat or delegation.

    If there was any diplomatic maneuvering between the U.S. & Japan
    over Amelia Earhart; the escalating U.S. campaign of economic sanctions against Japan were in it’s way. Japan’s bitter resentment towards the U.S. was only worsening.

    I don’t see Amelia Earhart spying on the Japanese but rather accidentally landing in the wrong place at the worst time.

    Doug

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  42. Doug,
    I don’t know when the sanctions actually started, but I have read that the few yachtsmen that intruded onto Jap islands even before AE were not very popular and were lucky to just escape. I imagine it’s very possible that AE and Fred could have been treated harshly even if they were completely innocent. However, I don’t happen to believe that, I think they were up to something, if not actual spying with an aerial camera. First, I can’t imagine how they could be actually really lost, what with AEs skill in other over water flights, and the resources Fred could have drawn on to figure out where they were i.e. Jaluit radio station for one. I think after the first few days of innocence and the apparent Jap pleasant surprise at finding them, something tipped them off, maybe just the film in AE’s Kodak camera. Also as I wrote earlier, there must have been something unusually interesting about her plane for them to haul it off for further examination. That’s my conjecture for tonight.
    Oh, just one more thing. When she was going to fly to Howland from Hawaii, what was their plan for the next leg? Were they going to land at Rabaul or Lae? Did she ever mention that part of her plan? Did they even file a flight plan for the whole trip? Was Rabaul more red tape to land on than Lae? It seems some of the other landing choices on her second flight did not make the most sense at the time. Mike seems to think the Lae/Rabaul choice is of no significance; he may be quite right.

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    1. Howland to Lae was the original plan, Rabaul was never mentioned, but I don’t have the source in front of me. It shouldn’t be hard to find with an intelligent google search.
      Mike

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  43. David –

    I don’t think she was lost nor convinced she was spying. The Marshall Islands are directly in between New Guinea & Hawaii. Looks to me, like she was on a direct course; although radio transmissions tell otherwise. I think they were on empty and had no other choice but to put the Electra down where they did. If the Electra had more fuel onboard, it would have blown up in the landing on Endriken/Barre.

    This was a golden opportunity for the Japanese. Once they knew they had this famous American aviatress; it was a tit for tat against America. America will not help the Japanese, the Japanese will not help the Americans. Had FDR lifted some of the economic sanctions, Amelia & Fred might have been set free. To the Japanese, American’s were the enemy.

    I have a hard time believing Amelia was on a spying or peace mission; she’s trying to get to Hawaii and then to California and prove this flight can be accomplished. Spying and making peace with the Japanese was the furthest thing on her mind……………………….

    Lets say they accidentally veered of course and alittle more to the northeast than the intended east/south Holland.

    I thought Amelia veered alittle north on her 1932 Atlantic crossing and instead of landing in France, she wound up in Ireland.

    Once the Japanese had Amelia & Fred in their captivity it was more a tit for tat. Amelia Earhart was the sacrificial American lamb to the Japanese.

    Doug

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  44. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the Japs contacted U.S. right away and wanted to make a deal. FDR said no deal at all for anything, when maybe all the Japs wanted was the return of some prisoner we held. Maybe if it ever came out how callous FDR was in her case it might be very embarrassing. Of course he was also prepared to sacrifice many lives to get the war started, so why would AE and Fred count for much?

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  45. David –

    The Japanese are first going to *suspect that Amelia was transmitting messages back to U.S. about their military activities in the Pacific. Then you have the flying laboratory & tests they were reportedly doing and Fred Noonan’s navigational instruments & notes. Amelia’s brief case filled with papers, photo’s, passport and miscellaneous items. The Japanese would have been very curious to know more about & what they mean?

    We know *Eleanor & Franklin had a personal friendship with Amelia. We have Franklin’s – Jan.18,1935 congratulatory letter to Amelia. We know Amelia took Eleanor up for a plane ride and Eleanor’s interest to learn how to fly a plane. Franklin disapproved of Eleanor learning to fly.

    The simple fact was America had something the Japanese needed — oil, petroleum, energy sources. These asset freezes & embargos we used against Japan left a very tense atmosphere.

    Now they have something we need, our famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart; was there any diplomatic maneuvering to get her back? Only those in the highest positions of the FDR administration knew. I surmise that the embargo’s & freezes held more weight.

    Doug

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  46. Doug,
    I still say if they were flying their line of position and didn’t know if they were north or south of Howland they could have taken a bearing on Jaluit radio and that would tell them where they were assuming they had the LOP correct. If I were them, and gas was running out, I think I would be bright enough to do that, and so was Fred. Gillespie seems to have missed this point. Of course his answer would be “Just because they could do it doesn’t prove they did it.” Followed by a few lines of condescending insults, for speculating. The Japs were bright enough to figure out her story of getting lost didn’t add up. So I say.

    Dave

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  47. David –
    Yes they could have taken a bearing on Jaluit radio. Some of us believe that Amelia had no intention of landing on Holland Island along with the fact there were too many gooney birds inhabiting it.

    I have never taken Ric Gillespie serious. He likes to convince others where Amelia Earhart wasn’t. He’s joined at the hip with our media & government in suppressing the *truth.

    Lets pretend for a moment that FDR & U.S. Intelligence asked Amelia to pretend she was lost. Tell her to land on a different island instead of Holland. This would give the U.S. Navy a good reason to go in and pretend they were looking for her and see what the Japanese were up to? Now this doesn’t mean go into Japanese Territory, but rather get as close to it as they can. Lets continue to pretend, that Amelia was suppose to land in this safer area -closer to Japanese territory – but accidentally doesn’t. Now she’s in this off limits territory and if we cross over to get her, we ourselves are in trouble.

    This is one of the oldest tricks in the book. Look at your neighbor between the fence posts but don’t get caught.

    Doug

    Like

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