Wednesday, December 4, 2019

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

Two days ago I published a short post on Tom Palshaw’s report matching TIGHAR artifact 2-2-V-1 to the upper section of the wing of a C-47 in storage at the New England Air Museum (NEAM). Ric Gillespie had recently stated on the TIGHAR Forum that he had examined the NEAM C-47 wing and found it to be “not even close” to a match to 2-2-V-1, but he offered no specifics to back up this assessment.  I thought Tom had made a good case for 2-2-V-1 being a scavenged piece of the Sydney C-47 worthy of a more substantive response than Ric Gillespie had given it.

A TIGHAR forum member alerted Ric Gillespie to Tom’s online report, and possibly for this reason Gillespie posted a video of his examination of the NEAM C-47 wing back in 2017 on TIGHAR’s YouTube channel [1]. Tom participated in this examination, and the photo below shows Tom and Ric standing alongside the subject C-47 wing at the start of their joint examination.

The photo below shows 2-2-V-1 laid over the C-47 wing at the location of interest. The spacing between five rivet hole lines on the side of 2-2-V-1 closest to the camera matches the rivet line spacing of the underlying C-47 wing quite well. There isn’t a good view in the video showing how closely the rivet hole lines match at other side of 2-2-V-1, but I think it is pretty clear that the alignment is close on that side as well, because nowhere in the video does Ric or Tom say that 2-2-V-1’s rivet line spacings don’t match those of the C-47 wing. So in terms of spacing of rivet hole lines, 2-2-V-1 seems to match up well with Tom’s candidate C-47 wing.

So in what ways might 2-2-V-1 not match a C-47 wing, if not rivet line spacing? Ric offers three primary objections to Tom’s proposed match, which if I understand them correctly are as follows:

  • One line of rivets on the C-47 wing are the wrong sized rivets, i.e., -4 rivets rather than -3 rivets
  • The line of -5 rivets of the C-47 lacks the irregular spacing between 2-2-V-1’s row of -5 rivet holes (these are the rivet holes along the right edge of 2-2-V-1 in the above photo
  • A straight portion of what is the far edge of 2-2-V-1 in the above photo is thought to represent a fatigue failure caused by repetitive bending against a straight object. Ric argues this straight object must an underlying structural component, but no such structural component exists where Ric argues it would need to be.
In the TIGHAR YouTube video, Tom appears to accept Ric’s three objections. However in the days after Ric’s visit, Tom examined the C-47 wing more closely and found reasons to think that he had been too hasty in accepting Ric’s objections:
  • Tom found that the line of rivets Ric thought to be -4 rivets (too big) were actually -3 rivets (matching 2-2-V-1)
  • Tom found that there were irregularities in spacing between -5 rivets, just as on 2-2-V-1
  • In Tom’s opinion, Ric’s hypothesis for the formation 2-2-V-1 straight-edge failure feature was not the only way the straight edge could have been created. Tom suggested instead that “2-2-V-1 was originally larger when removed from the source aircraft. A piece could then have been removed later by placing the artifact between two straight angles and flexed to failure”
All of these points were made by Tom in an email Tom sent Ric Gillespie a few days after the NEAM visit in 2017. That email differs only in small ways from Tom’s online report. My understanding is that Ric Gillespie has never responded to Tom’s email.

All this makes it very hard for me to understand how Ric Gillespie could have recently said that the C-47 wing he and Tom examined is not even close to a match for 2-2-V-1. I can only conclude from the information available to me that Tom Palshaw has found a plausible candidate source for 2-2-V-1, and not only because of the many ways in which the features match, but also because the people of Gardner Island used scavenged aluminum from the Sydney Island C-47 wreck for making handicrafts [2].

I suspect this  post will be followed by several more update posts.

Comments, corrections, additional relevant facts, differing viewpoints, etc., are always welcome.  Send to


[2] Earhart Research Bulletin #7, 7/26/98. Accessible at: