10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries

Andrew Omalley - March 30, 2018

World War II shook the entire world to its core and its reverberations have been felt across the globe for decades. It led to the deaths of tens of millions of people, the destruction of many cities, towns, villages and other infrastructure and also displaced tens of millions of people from their homes.

There was a lot of ground-breaking technology used during combat for the first time, such as aerial combat and nuclear weapons. There is no doubting that this War changed the world forever and it has left everybody on edge hoping that another war of this scale breaks out.

With a lot of countries now having a nuclear arsenal, any such war could be even more catastrophic and could lead to the entire annihilation of a given country.

However, thankfully there have been no global conflicts since the Second World War and hopefully, it long continues in that way. It is still a fascinating topic studying the battles that took place and looking at the tactics that were used on and off the battlefield. There were great feats of innovation and industry during the Second World War that changed how people live their lives.

You always hear stories about people finding some great artifacts from the Second World War, such as weapons or gear and the likes, as well as cities and towns having to be evacuated after the discovery of some unexploded ordnance that was dropped during the War.

The frequency of these discoveries still hasn’t slowed down even though more than seven decades have passed since the conflict. Some of these artifacts are truly astonishing and will blow your mind.

Here are 10 unbelievable new World War II discoveries that have been made in recent years.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Me-262 Fighter Jet. InSearchofHistory

10. Discovery of an ME 262 Jet Inside of a Bomb Crater

Air warfare was first introduced in the Second World War and this led to a lot of devastation both in the air and on the ground and sea. This meant that many targets that were previously unreachable could now be targeted with attacks from the air, causing widespread devastation and panic. As the war went on, more sophisticated aircraft and weapons were created which caused further damage and casualties. The Japanese even got to a stage where they began to use their own aircraft as weapons, performing suicide missions whereby they would fly their planes into American ships in the Pacific Ocean.

There have been many stories about unexploded ordnance that was dropped by aircraft during World War II being found, but recently in the Netherlands, there was a discovery of an actual jet plane. For example, in June of 2010 there was an Allied 500kg bomb found by construction workers about 23 feet under the ground in Gottingen, Germany which exploded when the expert team had been trying to disarm the bomb. This led to the deaths of three people, with another six people being injured. In January of 2013, a digger caused a World War II bomb to be detonated after debris struck it, leading to the death of the digger operator and wounding several others.

The jet plane discovery was made in October of 2014 and it was in a field on a farm located nearby the Deelen Airbase in Arhe, Netherlands that workers from the Museum Deelen Airbase made the discovery of a Messerchmitt 262. It is believed that this plane had been shot down on September 12th, 1944 near to the village of Elden and that it had remained there since. The pilot was named as Unteroffizier Schauder and he was killed in the aircraft. What the Germans had done when it happened was remove the wreckage and place it in Deelen and hid the plane in a bomb crater so it would not be seen.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Graf Zepellin in Soviet Custody. Wikipedia

9. Graf Zeppelin

There was only a single type of aircraft carrier that had been built by the German navy during the Second World War. This was called the Graf Zeppelin and it was initially launched in 1938, the year before the start of the war. It was in May of 1941 that Hitler had been informed by the Grand Admiral Reader that they had managed to get 85% through the building of the Graf Zeppelin and that it would be fully finished and ready to be used by 1942.

However, then it turned out to not be the case and by 1943 it was still only 95% complete and Hitler lost interest in the project and eventually, it became abandoned due to his lack of interest. After the end of the Second World War ended in 1945, this aircraft carrier on the 25th of April was scuttled in Stettin, Poland in the shallow waters. This was done to ensure that the Russians could not get their hands on this aircraft carrier and learn details about German engineering.

Despite these efforts, it was in March 1946 that the Russians successfully managed to reflate the aircraft carrier and it was brought by a tow from Poland over to Leningrad where they aimed to conduct repairs on the carrier. However, as time went by nothing was done by the Russians to try and repair the carrier so eventually, it was brought back to the coast of Poland. It was in 1947 that the Russians started to use the Graf Zeppelin for their target practice of their aircrafts and ships. Despite having directly hit it with 24 bombs and other projectiles, the carrier was still floating. In the end, it took a copula of torpedoes to finally sink her.

For decades it was unsure as to what the exact location the carrier was sunk at, until 2006 when the Petro Baltic managed to discover the wreckage. This is a ship that is owned by the Polish Oil Company and the wreck was discovered near to the Eba port. This grave was confirmed later that year by a Polish survey ship and it was officially identified as being the Graf Zeppelin and she was lying about 264ft under the surface of the water.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Musashi leaving Brunei for Battle of Leyte Gulf. Wikipedia

8. HIJMS Musashi Japanese Battleship

It was almost 7 decades following the end of the Second World War in March of 2015 that the Musashi Japanese battleship that had been sunk was finally found in the Sibuyam Sea which is by the coast of the Philippines. The researchers were confident that they managed to discover this ship after they managed to identify a type 89 gunner turret on the wreckage which was one of the standout features of the Musashi which had been at the time up there with the largest battleships that had ever been created.

This ship was part of the exclusive Yamato class of ships that the Japanese navy had as they were constructed by the Japanese Imperial Navy and in terms of ships during the Second World War, these were the most heavily armed and most powerful ships in existence on either side of the divide. It was near the end of 1944 that the United States managed to sink the Musashi after they hit it with a total of 19 torpedoes, as well as receiving a further 17 bomb hits from American aircraft on the 24th of October 1944 in the midst of the Battle of the Leyte Gulf.

Approximately half of the ship’s crew were subsequently rescued and it was the co-founder of Microsoft Paul Allen who managed to find the wreckage in 2015 alongside a team of researchers he had been working with. There had been other plans over the years involving the wreckage. There were multinational commemorations that took place every year in order to honor those who had fallen in the battle, beginning in the year 2006.

In 2008, there were talks in Japan of locating the remains of the Musashi, which at that time had not been rediscovered. They were of the belief that the ship had sunk completely in a single piece, so they were thinking about “re-floating” it, having it towed to an island that was close by and then turning it into a war museum. This, of course, would be a fascinating idea if it had come to fruition. However, as mentioned, when the wreckage was discovered in 2015, it was in scattered remains so this plan could not be realized.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Plane Wreckage. Daily Mail

7. P-40 Kittyhawk

After more than 70 years of being missing, an RAF pilot’s body was finally found, located in the Egyptian desert. It was in 1942 that they had first been reported missing after he never returned to the air base after being out on a mission. This was an astonishing discovery made over seven decades later and it showcases what amazing discoveries can be lurking just around the next corner if you know where to look.

It had been a Curtiss Kittyhawk fighter jet that he had been flying and it is believed that this plane had crashed in the desert. The pilot in question was named as Flight Sgt. Copping and it was initially believed that it was the Luftwaffe who had shot him down close to the Libya-Egypt border. They subsequently figured out that he had in fact managed to get lost in the midst of a huge sandstorm and he ended up crashing after becoming disorientated while flying over a desert that had no features.

The plane wreck and body were discovered in 2012 by a team of Polish Oil workers. They made a report of their findings to the authorities who subsequently discovered the aircraft which had been somewhat destroyed alongside a parachute. Therefore, Sgt. Copping seemingly survived the initial crash and had tried to get back to base by foot, but he was undoubtedly killed in the end by the extreme desert heat.

The reason why this plane had remained in such good condition was because of the extremely arid conditions, which meant that there was little to no corrosion of the plane’s metal surfaces. This is why aircraft boneyards prefer these types of conditions. There are currently plan in place to have this plane brought to a British museum. In total over the years, there were about 13,738 P-40s manufactured, with only about 28 of them still being airworthy.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Shipwreck of the USS Independence. News.co.au

6. USS Independence Aircraft Carrier

The CVL 22, or more commonly known as the Independence, was part of a total of 90 ships that had been assigned to the Operation Crossroads mission – which were the tests being undertaken for the atomic bombs. These were taking place at the Bikini Atoll located in the Marshall Islands. In 1951 the ship was scuttled and not many people were aware of what it had been used for following its involvement in the atomic bomb tests.

It was in 2015 that the shipwreck was found. A team of researchers began to work on the comparisons of sonar images taken of the wreckage with those from declassified documents. This allowed them to figure out that this ship had subsequently been utilized as a nuclear waste receptacle and radiology laboratory between 1946 and 1950. This had been one of the initial ships that had been converted into a lightweight aircraft carrier after most of the American fleet had been destroyed during the Pearl Harbor Attack. The main areas in which the independence operated in was the western and central Pacific between November of 1943 and August of 1945.

Following the war, it received its designation to the Operation Crossroads and it was as part of the fleet that had been placed approximately 1,700 feet away from where the ground zero blasts took place. This was done in order to see what effects the radiation, heat and shock waves would have on the ships. In total, during this testing period, there were a total of 21 ships that were sunk, but the Independence did manage to survive despite having received a lot of significant damage during the War. The ship eventually sank after there were two torpedoes precisely fired at it near to the keel and not near where the nuclear waste had been stored, which occurred in January of 1951.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Recovered Megasubmarine in Hawaii. The Inquisitr

5. Japanese I-400 Mega-Submarine

It was in 2013 that there was a discovery made of a Japanese mega-submarine off the coast of Oahu, a Hawaiian Island. This mega-sub was an I-400 which was the biggest submarine that was used by anyone during the Second World War. And they were able to carry up to 3 Aichi M6A1 Seiran floatplanes. These mega-submarines had been initially developed in order to be able to surface, have their planes launched and then dive back down again quickly before they were spotted.

They did, of course, carry torpedoes in case of close combat and they were the catalyst for the leading submarines that are used across the world today. It was on the 30th of December 1944 that these submarines were first launched. It was in April of 1945 that the Japanese had been getting ready for a Panama Canal strike whereby the Japanese would destroy all of the locks in the canal.

But once Okinawa had fallen, this attack had to be canceled and the fleet subsequently turned their attention towards attacking a total of 15 United States aircraft carriers that had gathered at the Ulithi atoll. Before this attack could begin however the Japanese had surrendered on the 15th of August 1945 following the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The United States destroyers who received the surrendered I-400 could not believe the size of this submarine.

This was brought to Hawaii by the Navy to be closely inspected by their team in order to glean secrets as to how it was constructed. They had a number of different Japanese submarines that they were inspecting here but when they got worked that there were soviets being sent to conduct their own inspections on them, the decision was taken to scuttle them before they could carry out these observations. It was on the 4th of June 1946 that I was scuttled by the USS Trumpetfish near Oahu, Hawaii where it remained for another 70 years before being discovered.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Skeleton remains of war pigeon that was stuck in chimney. Lee Sanders

4. A Carrier Pigeon Stuck in a Chimney

Carrier pigeons were an important part of the war effort as they were able to carry messages back and forth in a manner that was not easily intercepted. They had no email or text messaging back then so they had to look for alternative methods of sending messages and the postal system could hardly be trusted and not everyone had access to telegram machines. The skeleton of a carrier pigeon was recently found after seemingly more than 70 years stuck in a chimney in Surrey, England with a coded message still being tied to its leg.

This discovery was made in 2012 and while the coded message was still readable and potentially could have unveiled something new about the war effort that has remained hidden to this day, unfortunately, the code has not been cracked. This showcases how sophisticated the level of code making reached during the war, as intelligence had to devise more and more complex ways in which to hide the messages they were sending in case the message fell into enemy hands and this information was compromised.

Even with all of the great strides that have been made with computing power and problem-solving in recent years could not interpret this coded message which is quite impressive in itself. Throughout World War II there were about 250,000 homing pigeons of this kind utilized all across the United Kingdom to deliver messages. There were even 32 pigeons that managed to be honored with the Dickin Medal, a decoration of valor of the highest order that can be received by an animal who was part of the line of duty. There were even a number of famous carrier pigeons who managed to earn this medal, including the likes of the Irish pigeon Paddy and the Pigeon from the United States Army called G.I. Joe.

The Paddy pigeon managed to be awarded this medal after it became the fastest ever pigeon to return to England with the news about the D-Day invasion that was a success after hundreds of pigeons had been despatched. This flight over the English Channel was more than 230 miles in length and would have taken the pigeon approximately 4 hours and 50 minutes to complete, which is the fastest crossing ever recorded for a carrier pigeon. It was the sole Irish animal who received the Dickin Medal.

The GI Joe pigeon helped to save the lives of many villagers of the Calvi Vecchia Village, as well as the levels of those British troops who were stationed there during the Italians Campaign. There had been air support requested to eliminate German potions in the town, but British forces managed to capture before the strike. The G.I. Joe pigeon carried the message of this victory to the air support command before it was too late and the bombing was carried out. It flew over 20 miles in just 20 minutes and arrived at the base right when the planes were getting ready to embark on this mission. Almost one thousand troop’s lives were saved as a result.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Underground complex for Nazi nuclear weapons. YNetNews

3. An Austrian Complex for Nazi Nuclear Weapons

There was a cave discovered in Austria which provided a particular place of interest for historians and the locals who had come across it as a result of the strangely elevated nuclear radiation levels that had been measured at the site. While there were some professionals who made the claim that it is possible that these levels were fairly normal, others are not so sure.

The locals and the historians involved do not want to take the chance that there is an issue there regarding radiation and they will not be content until a full investigation into this cave has been completed. They want to know what it may contain and what it was used for during the Second World War. It is believed that this is part of a set of interlinked tunnels that were up to 45,000 square meters in size and initially had been used as a highly secret place for the production of aircraft.

For the past decade or so, a company that is owned by the governed in Austria has been filling these tunnels with concrete in order to make them a lot safer, with this firm also doing a lot of drilling in them. There was an Austrian documentary maker called Andreas Sulzer who believes that this cave and subsequent set of tunnels is the hiding place for what was a highly secret scientific lab that had been located underneath a concentration camp. This is why the investigation was initially opened and strides have been taken to conduct further searches of the underground area to see if there is any substance to these beliefs.

This comes after the documentary maker has sent the last few years creating a film that revolves around Viktor Schauberger, a scientist who is believed to have been deeply involved from 1941 onwards under the most extreme secrecy in the underground network of tunnels working on SS research projects. It is believed that they had given warnings to some of his colleagues about his involvement with atom smashing. The exploration of this site is still ongoing to this day.

2. Discovery of Millions of Silver Coins from Ship Wreckage

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
SS City Cairo Recovered Coins. Deep Ocean Search

One of the childhood dreams of many a kid was to one day find the wreckage of an old pirate ship and to discover a chest full of gold or some other treasury. There are even many people who dedicate their lives to searching for these types of wreckages and subsequently uncovering a new fortune for themselves. One such case involved a group of men and women from the United Kingdom who managed to find a massive hoard of silver coins that has a value of $44 million. This discovery was made in the wreckage of a steamship that the German had sunk at what was a record depth of 17,000 feet.

The ship in question was called the SS City of Cairo and it was owned by Ellerman Lines and it had been commanded by captain William Rogerson. It was a ship that combined both passengers and cargo. It was towards the latter end of 1942 that the ship left Bombay in India without an escort and headed towards England while stopping in Cape Town, South Africa as well as Recife, Brazil along the way. There were a total of 296 passengers on the ship, of which 136 of them were passengers and the rest of the crew members. The mixed cargo on the ship included over 100 tons of silver bars and coins that were the property of the United Kingdom Treasury.

It was on the 6th of November 1942 that the ship was identified by a U-69 and was attacked with torpedoes. The crew on-board cut out the engines and began plans to abandon the ship when another torpedo shortly hit the ship and it was sunk. The salvage company called DOS tasked themselves with finding the wreckage of this ship and they began their efforts in November of 2011. This investigative process was very tough as the water depth was more than 17,000 feet, in addition to the issues with challenging swells, currents and weather. It was also believed that the wreckage was located some 1,000 miles from the nearest source of land and was near the mid-Atlantic ridge.

They successfully managed to find the wreckage however in September of 2009 but they were not allowed to reveal their findings until December 2014 as they were told to keep it a secret by the Ministry of transport. They had managed to recover a large percentage of the sunken silver and the money was shared by the salvage company DOS and the United Kingdom Treasury. This is one of the discoveries that have led a lot of other people and companies trying to search for other sunken wreckages that may have a lucrative bounty that is contained within the wreckage. While this could pay off handsomely, it is also a dangerous pursuit that has cost a lot of lives over the years.

10 Unbelievable New World War II Discoveries
Panther found in a German pensioner’s house. Battlefront.com

1. A Panther Tank Found in a Basement Garage

The Panther tank was extremely tough and far superior to most of the tanks that were seen throughout the Second World War. This was thanks to their strength, but also versatility which proved to be the bane of many of the Allie’s tanks. These tanks were a medium tank and were used on the western and eastern Fronts in Europe between the middle of 1943 and the end of the war in 1945. It was somewhat vulnerable to flanking fire but it was able to move extremely effectively in open country and was well primed to handle engagements in a longer setting. There was a somewhat limited amount of high explosive power that would make it more effective against enemy infantry. While they were extremely quick to produce, not too many Panther tanks would have survived the war, let alone last over 70 years in mint condition.

It was in July of 2015 that there was a prosecutor in Kiel who had suspicions that there was a number of war relics in existence located at a villa in a town called Heikendrof. Of course, to discover whether this was true or not, they would have to obtain a search warrant from the police in order to make a raid on the property and they needed probable cause to do so. In Germany, having relics or weaponry from the War is illegal and you will be prosecuted if you are found in possession of any of these related items.

The warrant was signed and when the prosecutor and the police raiders got into the property and discovered a Panther tank that was in mint condition, they couldn’t believe what they had just discovered. This tank was being kept in an underground garage alongside various other weapons that came from the era of the Nazis. The owner of this villa was a 70-year-old individual who was deeply interested in relics from various wars. In the town he lived in, many of the locals saw him as being conservative and quiet as a citizen.

He had been under suspicion for many years by authorities as to having certain Nazi war relics and weaponry in his possession, mainly due to the villa owner having spotted the tank on the property around 1978. However, it took all of the years until 2015 for the authorities to gain enough evidence to raid the property and make this amazing discovery. Currently, this Panther tank is in the custody of the Federal Police in Germany until they decide what is to be done with it.


Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

First Production Me-262 Wreck Unearthed in The Netherlands?, WarBirds News

Without Wings: The Story of Hitler’s Aircraft Carrier, Stephen Burke, Trafford Publishing

Titans of the Rising Sun: The Rise and Fall of Japan’s Yamato Class Battleships, Raymond A. Bawal, Inland Expressions, 2010

“British WWII fighter found in Egyptian desert”, Alan Silverleib, CNN, 05/11/2012

“Aircraft Carriers of the World, 1914 to the Present: An Illustrated Encyclopedia”, Roger Chesneau, Brockhampton Press, 1998

“I-400: Japan’s Secret Aircraft-Carrying Strike Submarine”, Henry Sakaida and Gary Nila, Hikoki Publications, 2006

“WW II code found on long-dead pigeon in England may never be broken”, Reuters, 2012

“Nazis ‘built underground nuclear weapons facility using slave labour'”, Justin Huggler, Telegraph UK, 01/22/2015

“Record dive rescues $50m wartime silver from ocean floor”, BBC, 04/15/2015

“Germany: WW2 Panther tank seized from pensioner’s cellar”, BBC, 07/03/2015