Details come to light about WWII secret mission in N.C. | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com

It’s almost as if the crash never happened.

There are no old news clippings about it and few recorded interviews with anyone who might have witnessed it.

That’s how secret the operation was.

On Jan. 11, 1945, a seaplane took off in the darkness from a Coast Guard base in Elizabeth City. It was piloted by a member of the Royal Canadian Air Force and carried eight other aviators. The destination: Russia.

Not long after becoming airborne, the plane nosed down and plummeted into the Pasquotank River, killing five people aboard. The pilot and three others survived.

Last month, members of a club from the Ukrainian city of Odessa, who are planning a 70th-anniversary celebration of the end of World War II, wrote Elizabeth City officials to find out more about that night. One of the men who died, Capt. Vladimir M. Levin, was from Odessa.

City officials researched the incident and plan to send a letter with a few details to the Odessites.

via Details come to light about WWII secret mission in N.C. | HamptonRoads.com | PilotOnline.com.

Interesting. Elizabeth City was home to a program training Soviet crews to operate a variant of the PBY. They would then fly them to the Soviet Union for anti-sub patrols, presumably along the convoy route to Archangel.

The article notes that they flew the southern route to the Soviet Union to avoid icing. That would generally mean a series of legs down to Venezuela or Brazil before flying to Africa, thence to Iran and finally up into the Soviet Union.

Most of the thousands of planes the US and Britain supplied to the Soviet Union were delivered crated via merchant shipping. But there was also the northern route, where planes would stage out of Montana, flying in legs up to Alaska, then across the Bering Straits to Russia, to begin the very long journey across Siberia to join the forces on the Eastern Front.