P47 - Missing in Action
Recovery of a WWII U.S. Fighter
Author: Kay Siering
The booming noise is deafening. It is the sound announcing that an aircraft is about to crash. Henry Mohr also remembers this vividly as his P47 Thunderbolt crashes onto the surface of the Austrian lake Traunsee on 8 May 1945, the last day of World War II. "This is the end", is Mohr's last thought before the ice-cold waters engulf him and his plane. Mohr's Thunderbolt goes down in history as the final loss on record for the U.S. in Europe in the Second World War.
A feverish search for the wreck of the P47, commissioned by an American businessman, continues for years; the task of salvaging the vanished aircraft would be a historic sensation.
In April 2005, the aircraft is finally located. The Thunderbolt is in excellent condition as the thin layer of mud has preserved it perfectly. Using special divers, floating winches and huge cranes, the wreck is salvaged in an expedition lasting for days.
The sensational find makes the headlines in the United States – and brings together two men who saw each other for the last time on 8 May 1945: the stricken pilot Henry Mohr and James Powers, who watched Mohr's crash from his own P47. "My first thought was 'Henry's alive!' - I've just got to see him again", said Powers.
The present and the past converge in a film that combines one of the most exciting search and salvage operations with the fate of the survivors and their highly moving reunion.
A SPIEGEL TV production in co-production with ATVplus
year of production: 2006