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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 June, 2003, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
Swedes find Cold War spy plane
Wreckage of the plane
The wreckage lies about 100 metres under the sea surface
Swedish explorers say they have found the wreckage of a Swedish spy plane which vanished over the Baltic Sea more than 50 years ago.

For decades, Sweden maintained that the DC-3 plane and its eight-man crew had been intercepted by the Soviets during a training flight on 13 June 1952, while Moscow insisted that it had nothing to do with the plane.

Only in the late 1980s, the former USSR confirmed that the plane - which Sweden finally admitted was on a spying mission - was shot down by a Soviet fighter.

We appreciate that this part of Swedish history comes to a conclusion
Johan Hedrstedt, Swedish Air Forces
On Thursday, the Swedish explorers said underwater pictures confirmed that the hull found half-buried in sand at the bottom of the Baltic Sea was the missing plane.

This was later confirmed by Swedish military authorities.

"We are missing only one DC-3, and if you find a DC-3 with Swedish Air Force symbols in this area, you can be sure it is the right one," Swedish Armed Forces commander-in-chief Johan Hederstedt told Reuters news agency.

No bodies found

The explorers declined to release the exact location of the wreckage.

They only said that it was found in international waters near Gotska Sandoen island, about 120 kilometres (75 miles) east of the Swedish coastline.

"I cried," said historian Carl Douglas, describing the moment when the plane's hull emerged from the sand about 100 metres under the sea surface.

Lead researcher Anders Jallal said no bodies were found at the wreckage. But he added that they may be buried in the mud and silt.

Easy target

The explorers spent three years combing about 700 square kilometres (270 square miles) of the sea floor looking for the plane.

The twin-engine plane - nicknamed Flying Hut for its slow speed - was an easy target for Soviet Mig fighters.

Despite initial denials, Sweden later admitted that the plane - equipped with British surveillance gear - had been spying on the then new Soviet radar stations in the former Baltic republics.

Moscow only admitted shooting down the plane shortly before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Senior Soviet military officials visited Sweden and apologised to relatives of the crew.

The Swedish authorities have said they would examine the site and decide whether to salvage the wreckage.



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