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Scuba Diving in Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
Dive Site: Japanese Mitsubishi Bi-Plane (Sea Plane)
Location: Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
Description: Mitsubishi F1M Bi-Plane
Depth: 29 metres (95 feet)
Visibility: 20 metres + (65 feet)
The Mitsubishi F1M Bi-Plane is a Japanese reconnaissance sea plane; also know as "Pete", which was the allied code name for the aircraft. This wreck is at a depth of 29 metres on a gently sloping black sand seabed, located near the northern shores of Rabaul. We entered the water from our small dive boat and swam down in a slight, head on, current past coral heads until the plane came into view. It sits upright on the seafloor, very intact with both sets of wings, its fuselage and tail fins still in place although much of the covering is now gone from the tail wing sections. The prop is also still there but partially buried in the sand. I lay on the seabed just off the tail to watch a myriad of marine life, whilst our dive guide removed his fins and sat in the cockpit making shooting noises (evidently firing the 7.7mm machine guns, fixed to fire through the propeller). Although small in size for a wreck, we spent over half our dive time here as the wreck itself has become home to all manner of sealife. Sponges and soft corals have taken hold on the wings and tail section and sway in the current. Small picasso triggerfish and cleaner shrimps were hiding under the edges of the fuselage and here it was still possible to see the "rising sun" emblem of the Japanese war machine. As we left the plane wreck we headed over a small reef formation with some lovely acropora, a multitude of small marine life and several blue spotted rays cruised by over the sand as we prepared for our ascent and safety stops.
Rik Vercoe, BSAC Advanced Instructor
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