B-23 Dragon s/n 39-052
29 JAN 43
Loon Lake ID

This is probably one of the most intact WWII aircraft that crashed on land in the continental US (and still remains there). Everything small has been stripped off of it by souvenir hunters, but it's intactness has allowed the bulk of the aircraft to remain there.

It is rare to run into other people at a crash site, this time was a definite exception. On the day we visited the site no fewer than 15 other people also visited! 6 on horse, 2 on mountain bikes, 2 on motorcycle (stopping at the wilderness boundary and hiking the last part) and 5 on foot. Everyone we met on the trail knew about the crash site-- though the story was not always right.


I visited this site in September 1999, apparently shortly there after the USAF Museum sent in a team of three museum mechanics and two Idaho Army National Guard mechanics who spent a week at the site removing parts from the aircraft which were then airlifted out by Blackhawk helicopter. While I am in favor of recovery if it is for a museum and it will help get an example of a rare plane restored, it is a shame to see what was the most intact crash in the Continental US destroyed, especially considering that most of the parts aren't even going to be used in the restored plane! They are going to be used solely as patterns. It is much easier to recreate a part from a pattern, but it is possible to recreate it from blue prints. One could also photograph the part at the crash site to see what a real one looks like. The time saved from using the parts as a pattern was at a cost of the B-23's structural integrity (as well as historical integrity) and the winter snows have started to crush the fuselage that had laid intact in the forest for 56 years. Take a look at the two links below for more details. The first is of photos of how the fuselage looked in July 2002 as well as three original photos of the crash site. These come from Richard H. Holm Jr. Richard has done extensive research on this crash and has even put together a 43 page history of the crash for the Heritage Program of the Payette National Forest. The second link is to TIGHAR's web site and is a field report of a survey they did at the site the summer after the parts were removed.

Original Pictures and Crushed Pictures TIGHAR's Field Report

Looking across the lake a section of skin reflects from the far shore
Left the horseback riders making their way to the crash site.



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