The P-40 Ghost Plane: An Unsolved Mystery Of World War II

The P-40B is the only known survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack. The story of the "Pearl Harbor ghost plane" is one of the most remarkable from WWII. On December 8, 1942, a plane was detected on radar approaching Pearl Harbor from Japan, exactly one year after the attack.

When US aircraft were dispatched to investigate, they identified the unidentified plane as a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, which had been utilized by American forces during the defense of Pearl Harbor but had not been seen since. The plane was reported to be riddled with bullet holes, and the pilot was seen inside, injured and slumped over in the cockpit. The pilot is said to have briefly waved at the other planes before the P-40 crash-landed. However, the search teams were unable to locate any wreckage and the entire plane, along with its pilot, disappeared.

Radar Reflections

On December 8, 1942, more than a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor, radar in the United States detected an unusual reading. An aircraft was detected heading towards the United States from the direction of Japan. However, the radar operators noticed that it did not have the usual markings of an attack aircraft. The weather was overcast and it was late evening, making it unlikely to be an attack.

Fighters Scrambled

Two American pilots were sent to intercept a mysterious aircraft. They reported back that it was a P-40 with markings not seen since the Pearl Harbor attack. The plane was bullet-ridden, had no landing gear and the pilot was slumped in the cockpit, covered in blood. As the pilots looked into the cockpit, the pilot weakly waved and smiled at them before the plane crashed.

Evidence At The Crash Site

American troops searched the crash site but found no trace of the pilot or any identifying markings on the plane. The only discovery made was a document, believed to be a diary. Through this diary, researchers were able to conclude that the plane likely came from Mindanao, an island located about 1,300 miles away. The rest of the story remains a mystery.

Possible Explanations

Some speculated that the plane may have been shot down over a year earlier and the pilot managed to survive and repair the plane, somehow navigating his way back to his homeland over 1000 miles of hostile territory. However, they couldn't understand how the P-40 aircraft could have taken off without any landing gear.