Sunday, November 24, 2019

Is 2-2-V-1 a Piece of the Sydney Island C-47 Wreck?

Since 1992 TIGHAR has argued that piece of aluminum sheet it refers to as artifact 2-2-V-1 found during a TIGHAR expedition to Nikumaroro is a piece of Amelia Earhart's Lockheed Model 10 Electra [1]. TIGHAR's initial case for 2-2-V-1 was that it was a piece of the underbelly of the Electra was quickly debunked. But Ric Gillepsie, TIGHAR's leader, is nothing if not persistent, and so TIGHAR continued over the years to try to find a way to fit 2-2-V-1 onto Earhart's Electra. Many of the key points Gillespie has put forward over the years for 2-2-V-1 being a piece of the Electra have turned out to indicate the opposite but Gillespie simply continues to march forward, steadfastly ignoring or downplaying evidence that goes against his preferred conclusion.

The long history of TIGHAR's claims about 2-2-V-1 is something that I've been wanting to  post about because I think it illustrates problems that arise all too often with TIGHAR's promotion of the Nikumaroro Hypothesis (Gillespie would of course say that he is testing the Nikumaroro Hypothesis, not promoting it, but come on...).  Anyone who scrolls back through my blog posts can see that I'm not exactly a prolific generator of new material. So while my epic blog post series on 2-2-V-1 awaits fruition I'd like to point readers to a report by Tom Palshaw, who works on aircraft restoration projects at the New England Air Museum in Connecticut.  It is pretty clear that 2-2-V-1 isn't from Earhart's Electra, but then what airplane is it from? Tom has suggested a possible answer: he has found that rivet line spacings, rivet types, and aluminum ‘skin’ thickness of artifact 2-2-V-1 match a section of the upper  wing of a C-47 in NEAM's collection.  C-47s were workhorse U.S. military transport planes during World War Two, and significantly, a C-47 crashed on Sydney Island, another island in the Phoenix Island group, during the war [2].  According to TIGHAR, pieces of that  C-47 were brought to Nikumaroro for use by local inhabitants in making items such as combs.

I helped Tom create an online a report of his findings, which can be found here.

I'm certainly no expert on aircraft manufacture but it seems to me that Tom Palshaw has made a good case that 2-2-V-1 is a piece of aluminum recovered from the Sydney Island crash. It also seems to me that the substance of Tom's findings should be better known by TIGHAR's followers than they probably are. Tom informed Ric Gillespie of this putative match back in 2017, but for two years TIGHAR said nothing about Tom's findings on the TIGHAR discussion forum or its Facebook page.  That silence was only broken this summer when Gillespie made the following tersely worded post on TIGHAR forum [3]:

"On July 16, 2017 I inspected the portion of the DC-3/C-47 wing section at the New England Air Museum alleged to resemble Artifact 2-2-V-1. At the time the wing section was out behind the museum, stored outdoors with various other bits and piece of aircraft. There was no way to check the thickness of the skin but, although there were some general similarities in rivet pattern, the rivet type, rivet pitch, and spacing between rivet lines did not match the artifact. Not even close. TIGHAR videographer Mark Smith recorded the investigation."

Gillespie doesn't provide TIGHAR forum members with Tom Palshaw's side of the story although by this time Gillespie had long since received by email from Tom an analysis that is not much different from the online report I've linked to above. Gillespie could simply have quoted from Tom's email or provided a summary of Tom's key points in his post.  Tom sent Ric a photo showing how a template of 2-2-V-1 matches up with the NEAM C-47 wing (see below), and the match looks pretty good to me, certainly close enough to wonder why Gillespie could have made his 'not even close' comment.

Given all the ink that has been spilled about 2-2-V-1 by Ric Gillespie, it strikes me that Tom Palshaw's findings deserve a serious reply from Gillespie. It could be that Gillespie is correct that C-47 wing is 'not even close', but it isn't enough for Gillespie to simply say it, he needs to explain why that is so. 

[1] See TIGHAR TRACKS, Vol. 8 No. 1/2, article titled 'WE DID IT'. Accessible at:
[2] See TIGHAR Earhart Research Bulletin #7, 7/26/98. Accessible at:
[3] See TIGHAR forum thread titled 'RE: 2-2-V-1 Wing Panel Comparisons', post #2. Accessible at:,2074.msg43099.html#msg43099

Note: I originally learned about Tom Palshaw's findings from a post made on the Aviation Mysteries forum. I would link to that post here if I could find it. The post was made long ago and is now buried somewhere deep within the discussion threads there.