Meet new scuba divers, maintain a virtual dive log, participate in our forum, share underwater photos, research dive sites and more. Members login here.

XP-47B, Prototype Thunderbolt - Eatons Neck NY

XP-47B, Prototype Thunderbolt is a boat accessible salt water dive site, located in Eatons Neck, NY. The maximum depth is 41-50ft/12-15m. The average visibility is 11-15ft/3-5m.

Well a diver found an interesting wreck and has kept it’s location secret since 2012, that’s amazing in it’s self!

When Kurkomelis, a scuba diver who lives on Long Island, found a significant piece of World War II aviation history more than six years ago, he kept his treasure to himself while he looked into the precise nature of his discovery.

To his shock, amazement, and delight, he learned that the objects he recovered were part of the only Thunderbolt fighter plane prototype in existence. It was there, in the watery depths of Long Island Sound.

Ironically, Kurkomelis wasn’t on the hunt for treasure that day in 2012. He was actually searching for the remains of two pilots who had crashed there in 1947, the plane crashed off Eatons Neck shortly after taking off from Republic Airport. Instead, he found a bonanza in terms of war memorabilia.

He subsequently learned, through research at the National Archives and elsewhere, of the wreck’s true history and its fate. It had crashed in 1942, on a test flight, though the pilot survived.

Kurkomelis has gone back to the site more than two dozen times since first discovering the wreck, though he has kept the precise location confidential. He told a news outlet in November 2018 that his first look at the wreck was only 50 feet (15 meters) below the surface.

Ken Neubeck, Vice President of the Long Island Republic Airport Historical Society, examined photographs of the find.

“I’m pretty sure it is [the Thunderbolt],” he said. “There really weren’t many other planes that fell into the Sound that were an XP-47B,” he added in reference to its serial number. “It’s a very relevant piece of Long Island history.”

The plane was manufactured by Republic Aviation Corporation in Farmingdale, New York, which had to quadruple its size to keep up with wartime demand.

Joshua Stoff, a curator with the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, Long Island, agreed. “This was the granddaddy of all P-47s.”

He went on to add that “the most interesting part that positively identified it [was that] he found the bulletproof glass from the windshield” (which is a different shape to that found on other P-47s).

He also said that, subsequent to the prototype, about 15,000 Thunderbolt “Jugs” (as they were nicknamed) were built and used during the war.

Miraculously, the airman, Fillmore Litton Gilmer, thought quickly enough to bailed out when trouble started.

He told the Army Air Corps that the stick was suddenly “light and useless.” Then he realized that the plane’s tail was burning and that the elevator rod had melted.

Dive Site Map

Click to Load Map