Second World War plane buried for 72 years uncovered after Swiss snow melts in recent heatwave

Andy Wells
Freelance Writer
The recent heatwave has helped uncover a Second World War plane in Switzerland (CEN)

The recent heatwave across Europe has led to the discovery of the wreckage of an American military plane which crash-landed on an Alpine glacier shortly after the Second World War.

The American C-53 Skytrooper, a military transport aeroplane – better known under its RAF name of the Dakota – was flying from the Austrian town of Tulln near Vienna to Pisa in Italy on 18th November 1946.

Due to the adverse weather conditions, the pilots decided to take a long detour route via Munich, Strasbourg and Marseille so they would not have to cross the Alps.

Even though a propeller of the plane was uncovered in 2012, the rest of the wreckage has always remained covered by the glacier’s snow and ice (CEN)
The crash site at the glacier now looks like a field full of debris (CEN)

Flying at a speed of 174mph, the pilots reportedly became disorientated on the first leg of the flight from Tulln to the Bavarian capital of Munich.

When flying over the Tyrolean city of Innsbruck, they were flying into Switzerland when a sudden gust of wind and a snowstorm forced them to crash land the plane at an altitude of 10,990 feet onto the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Alps.

A giant rescue mission was set up by the Swiss army to save the eight passengers and four crew members after they heard an emergency radio message.

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On 23th November, five days after the crash, Swiss ski soldiers located the wreckage.

They were able to rescue every passenger and crew member through a series of daring snow landings on the glacier.

Even though a propeller of the plane was uncovered in 2012, the rest of the wreckage has always remained covered by the glacier’s snow and ice.

The pilots decided to take a long detour route via Munich, Strasbourg and Marseille so they would not have to cross the Alps (CEN)

Due to the warm summer this year and the rapidly receding glaciers in the Alps experts have now managed to uncover large parts of the crashed plane for the first time.

According to experts, the crash site at the glacier now looks like a field full of debris as various objects of the Dakota, such as wings and propellers, as well as other objects like tin cans, hangers and spoons, have become visible.

The team led by aviation expert Peter Brotschi even found tracks of the daring rescue mission of the Swiss Air Force.

It is unclear if the Dakota will be completely recovered (CEN)
The American C-53 Skytrooper crash landed onto the Gauli Glacier in the Bernese Alps (CEN)

It is unclear if the Dakota will be completely recovered.

According to archaeologist Adriano Boschetti, who works for the Canton of Bern, there is a large amount of interest in the objects from the crashed plane among Americans.

The owner of a nearby mountain hut has been tasked with keeping an eye on the debris and to make sure that all objects remain in place.

Wings and propellers are now visible after the ice melted (CEN)

The mountain hut owner said: ‘The wreck is a great folk tale. We have many visitors coming to us solely for the sake of the Dakota.’

Swiss scientists have previously warned that many glaciers will have disappeared from the Alps by 2050.

They believe the Aletsch Glacier, the biggest in the Alps, will have almost disappeared by the end of the century.