Within a short boat drive from the quay in S’Algar, we can reach the final resting place of a WW2 Nightbomber, Junkers 88.
It is not an eery place to dive, as fortunately none of the occupants lost their lives when the plane went down, but it is a spectacular sight when descending to it, particularly for the first time. Scroll down for the full story of the incident.
Junkers 88 | now resting on 47m in Menorca
With the plane resting on 47m, it is a deep dive, beyond the recreational limits permitted by Spanish Law. Hence some prerequisites have to be met by any diver wishing to dive the Junkers. Please check your own maximum depth certified. For safety and responsibility reasons, we cannot make any exceptions.
Pre-Requisites by Law – You will need:
- PADI Tec Rec 50
- CMAS 3*** + Nitrox
- FEDAS B3E + Nitrox
- BSAC Diveleader + Nitrox
- TDI Extended Range
- TSA Technical Deco Diver
If not by nature included in your Certification, you have to be EaN certified.
- Medical Certificate
- Dive Insurance
Pre-Requisites by Salgar Diving
Previous, recent experience diving 40m+ or have previously dived with us to a lesser depth.
This dive requires some planning and preparations on both sides, yours and ours. Upon arrival at the centre, you will fill in a registration form, sign a disclaimer and check and confirm the %-age of O2 in your tank. This and other preparations take a little bit more time than usual, calculate around 3 hours from start to finish.
For this dive, there is a supplement of € 20,00 which covers the extra preparation time, reduced number of divers on the boat, longer turnaround time and the fill of EANx.
- 15-litre steel tank (double valve, DIN or INT)
- 25% Nitrox fill / EANx 25
- 20,– supplement
- Anything not mentioned above
What you will need to bring:
- Current diving certifications (50 metres)
- Nitrox Certification
- Medical Certificate / Medical Declaration
- Dive Insurance including hyperbaric treatment (can be obtained at the dive centre)
Equipment requirements by law (as of the 1st of July 2020)
To oblige current Spanish Law, when diving below the max. recreational depth of 40 metres, each diver has to dive / carry:
- 2 Regulators (one full set + one first and second stage with a manometre)
- 2 Dive Computers
- 2 Masks
Other important information:
- We dive the Junkers 88 with 15L tanks filled with 25% Nitrox ( PO2 @ 1,4 bar).
- You can dive with air, as long as your buddy does the same.
- Safety is paramount. When we set off to do a deep dive, the sea conditions have to be such as to allow safe practice for the divers as well as the captain and the boat.
- During the dive, the only things we take from this dive are pictures and memories, the only thing we leave behind are bubbles.
The Story | S´Algar Diving Menorca
A Ju-88 came down in Menorca on February 24, 1943, between S’Algar and Alcaufar. The aircraft, based in Sicily, had attacked targets in Algeria and came off course on the way back.
With the fuel tank almost empty, the crew was trying to find the runway of the aerodrome of San Luis. But it was still dark and instead they saw the lights of the Lighthouse on the island ¨Isla del Aire¨ in front of S´Algar.
They landed as close as possible to a fishing boat. The fisherman picked up the 4 occupants:
- Uffz. Walter Faulhaber – Pilot
- Fw. Georg Pimmerlein – Observer
- Uffz. Heinrich Kiener – Radio
- Uffz. Heinz Esper – Artillery
It was dawn on February 24, 1943. It was six o’clock in the morning and the sea was calm. Europe was at war.
Having been working on their trawling boat called “Second Gaspar”, the skipper José Melsión, his brother Gaspar and the sailor Joan Terrassa, were sailing along the coast of “Migjorn”, as the south coast of Menorca is known, towards their home port of Mahon. When they passed the bay of Biniancolla they observed a spotlight above their heads, which was quickly identified as coming from an airplane. Gaspar told his brother that it seemed that the plane was projecting the light beam onto their boat on purpose, but José replied that it was not them it was focused on.
Not giving the situation any more thought, they continued sailing towards the port of Mahon. When crossing the channel between the island ¨Isla del Aire¨ and Salgar, Gaspar thought he saw the aircraft fall into the sea in front of them. However, his brother once again replied that surely he was only imagining it and all that happened was that they just lost sight of it.
However, Gaspar and Joan both insisted until José finally decided, to slow the boat down. As it became quieter they began to hear people’s voices, asking for help. After carefully scanning the horizon, they soon discovered several men who were aboard two rafts, just ahead of them.
Gaspar: “It was still dark. As soon as we were close enough, they quickly started to climb aboard. They were at the front of the boat and we tried to tell them to move a little more towards the stern. I think they must have misunderstood and thought that we didn’t want them to come aboard at all, as they were clinging to it for dear life. The bow was full of fish, piled up high. The catch that night had been plentiful. We had lots of fish and crustaceans on board, amongst them “crabs”, “spiders” and “scorpion fish”. The men put their hands on deck unconsciously not having seen the load, yet despite the excruciating punctures, nips and bites they must have received, would not let go of the fishing boat. You could see they appreciated life and were terrified to lose contact with us”.
When they were finally on deck, they explained that they were coming back from bombing Algeria. This explanation apparently did not please the pilot, who was a young man of no more than twenty years and had assumed command of the crew, because he immediately silenced all his companions.
They went on to explain that as they were flying over Menorca they discovered the fishing boat below them and thought that the fisherman would be their salvation if they landed over the sea.
Therefore they lit the boat with their lights to make the fishermen aware of their presence and upcoming manoeuvre.
Gaspar: “On board, we had a stove fuelled by coal to keep us warm. We offered them hot food but they only wanted to eat oranges. Another action that took place when onboard, was to surrender all weapons they carried with them. One of them was wounded, having a bullet lodged in his leg. They seemed to be heading to Mallorca and while flying ran out of fuel. When over Menorca, they were convinced they flew over the ¨neighbouring island “.
The plane is resting off the coast, between S´Algar and Alcaufar, on course between the ¨Isla del Aire¨ and Port Mahon, about a half mile offshore. “I know because we’ve hooked our nets on it on a couple of occasions while fishing.”
The abandoned, drifting rafts were collected by Jaume Reynés, another fishermen working the area.
When they reached Port Mahon, they headed straight to the Naval Base, to report to the Commander who happened to be friendly with the Melsión brothers, as they were the owners of the boat that used to bring the most fish to port.
“But, as it happened, the Commander was sailing aboard the ¨King James II’ back from Mallorca that morning and had also seen the manoeuvre performed by the German aircraft. The ship had reached port before us and the Commander was already at the base. When he saw us he asked if we had the aviators on board. We delivered them to him and he gave the order to buy clothes for them at the tailors ¨Obrador¨, because theirs were all wet.¨
Later that day, the four German soldiers were provided with tickets for the next steam-ship bound for Mallorca and they embarked the same afternoon.
At that time the German consul happened to be staying at the ¨Hostal del Almirante¨, in the harbour of Mahon. The German representative called the fisherman the same afternoon to thank them personally for the rescue performed, during which they were symbolically handed a medal. More speeches and celebrations followed in the presence of the authorities of Menorca and even a meal was served. Both sailors of the boat received one hundred pesetas each as a reward, while the captain, José, was given two hundred. The consul also told them that he did not have the medals on him at the moment, but that they would receive them in the coming days.
Gaspar Melsion: ¨The truth is, we never got to see any medals, nor any other written acknowledgement “.
The Junker is now resting on 47m close to Salgar and the Isla del Aire. Although the location of the plane was known to some divers, until September 2014 nobody had filmed or photographed it.
Juan Miguel Miranda Boronat
Salgar Diving Menorca www.salgardiving.com
The text of the incident:
Alfonso Buenaventura in his blog “Atlas Menorca Nautico”
Junkers 88 – A4
4D + MN
II / KG30 based at the airfield Comiso (Sicily)