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WWII Fighter To Be Raised From Lake Michigan

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CHICAGO (CBS) — A sunken World War II Wildcat fighter plane has concluded its final fight–45 miles under the water to a safe harbor in Waukegan.

It was moved there so that recovery experts can safely lift it out of Lake Michigan.

Recovery specialist Taras Lysenko says the recovery lift is less likely to rip off the wings if it’s done in a safe harbor instead of the open waters of Lake Michigan.

That’s where the historic fighter spent the last 68 years in 200 feet of water.

Lysenko says the Wildcat fighter will be lifted from the water on Friday, dried out and then rehabbed for display at the Hangar One Naval Aviation Museum in Glenview.

The FM2 Wildcat malfunctioned on a training flight Dec. 28, 1944 when it rolled off the bow of the aircraft carrier USS Sable. Pilot William Forbes escaped before the fighter sank.

Lysenko described the Wildcat fighter as “a beer can with wings.” It’s not very maneuverable, but it’s extremely lethal with six 50 caliber machine guns and self-sealing gas tanks.

The most famous Wildcat was flown by Butch O’Hare for whom O’Hare airport was named. O’Hare received the Congressional Medal of Honor for downing five Japanese bombers attacking the aircraft carrier Lexington in 1942.

Mettawa businessman Charles Greenhill has financed the recovery effort.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s John Cody Reports

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