Ancient Monuments

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Lockheed P-38 Lightning Aircraft, Intertidal zone, Morfa Harlech

A Scheduled Monument in Harlech, Gwynedd

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Latitude: 52.8729 / 52°52'22"N

Longitude: -4.1411 / 4°8'28"W

OS Eastings: 255986

OS Northings: 332747

OS Grid: SH559327

Mapcode National: GBR 5P.R2HP

Mapcode Global: WH55Z.C18X

Entry Name: Lockheed P-38 Lightning Aircraft, Intertidal zone, Morfa Harlech

Scheduled Date: 15 August 2019

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 4409

Cadw Legacy ID: ME269

County: Gwynedd

Community: Harlech

Built-Up Area: Harlech

Traditional County: Merionethshire


The monument comprises the remains of a Lockheed P-38F-1 Lightning aircraft. Abandoned after ditching on 27 September 1942, the aircraft is now entirely buried within the intertidal zone at Morfa Harlech. Direct observation of the fuselage in 2007 and 2014 demonstrated that the aircraft is unusually complete, substantially intact and well-preserved. It has a highly distinctive appearance consisting of a central nacelle and a twin boom design. It measures 11.53m in length, with a wingspan of 15.85m. Official records describe that the aircraft - belonging to the 49th Fighter Squadron, 14th Fighter Group, USAAF - took off on a routine gunnery training mission from nearby RAF Llanbedr, and ditched owing to fuel starvation to the engines.

The monument is of national importance as the remains comprise the best preserved military aircraft crash site in Wales. The aircraft is rare, comprising one of only twenty-eight airframes known to survive from the 10,038 built. Documentary evidence suggests that this aircraft is the oldest surviving USAAF 8th Air Force combat aircraft of any type, and is the only surviving 8th Air Force combat veteran P-38. It is the sole surviving ‘F’ variant worldwide in a substantially intact condition. The aircraft is illustrative of the American operational build-up in Wales during the Second World War, in this case for Operation Bolero, and the rapidly developing advancements in technological capabilities and material science. It is also representative of the losses associated with typical training activities. It retains significant archaeological potential, with a known presence of associated archaeological features and deposits.

The scheduled area comprises the remains described and the area around within which related evidence may be expected to survive. It is centred on Item 'A' (NGR SH 55998 32744). The scheduled area is square in shape on plan and measures 80m in length NW-SE by 80m transversely. This site is also controlled under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

Source: Cadw

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