THE fighter plane known as P-47D-23RA managed to survive World War II in the Pacific.
Unlike many others from that era, it then dodged the scrapyard torch when it was abandoned in Papua New Guinea, where it spent decades in the yard of a private home.
And throughout these years, this P-47 Thunderbolt held a secret: a grease pencil signature inscribed inside the wing which read ‘Eva + Edith’.
“There are many more similar tales buried within these aircraft,” said Sara Zimmerman of AirCorps Aviation based in Minnesota, a company specialising in flight-worthy restorations of World War II aircraft.
As AirCorps wraps up the painstaking restoration of this fighter, the company is now on a quest to find the identities of ‘Eva + Edith’.
Although the P-47 finally rolled off an assembly line in Evansville, Indiana, the wing was almost certainly manufactured in Buffalo, New York, said Zimmerman.
And Eva and Edith? They most likely stood next to each other on an assembly line for the Curtiss-Wright Company.
The pair was among tens of thousands of American women who became factory workers in the 1940s to support United States war production.
AirCorps Aviation is meticulous with its restorations, preparing 3D computer models of aircraft and chasing down a myriad of historical leads.
The ‘Eva + Edith’ section of the P-47D-23RA wing will likely not make its way into the finished aircraft.
Due to its many years exposed to the elements in Papua New Guinea, the structure will have to be rebuilt from scratch.
However, the wing was in good enough shape to be laser scanned for replication.
Now we await the story of Eva and Edith - unless they have been lost to history.