Aircraft Wrecks in the Mountains and Deserts of the American West
The Royal Norwegian Air Force flew one squadron of Northrop N-3PB floatplanes, seconded to the RAF Coastal Command, during WWII from bases in Scotland and Iceland. On 4/21/43 one of these aircraft made a forced landing due to bad weather on the Thjorsa River in Iceland. The N-3PB struck a submerged obstacle and sank quickly, but the two crewmen were able to swim to safety. In 1979 a volunteer group of Norwegians, Icelanders, British, and Americans recovered the wreck and shipped it to the Northrop Aircraft Corporation in Hawthorne, California where volunteers restored the N-3PB as a non-flying display for the Royal Norwegian Air Force Museum.
While the restoration of the N-3PB was underway engineers found that many of the original parts from the crash site were suitable for use as templates only. In an effort to conserve as much of the original plane as possible some metal was cut in the silhouette of the N-3PB and mounted on plaques to be presented to the volunteer restorers, company officials, and visiting Norwegian, Icelandic, and British dignitaries.
The plaques were made by the Southern California Historical Aviation Foundation that became the Western Museum of Flight. Each plaque was inscribed with the following statement.
THIS SILHOUETTE OF NORTHROP CORPORATIONíS FIRST PRODUCTION AIRCRAFT, THE N-3PB PATROL BOMER, WAS FASHIONED FROM THE ONLY REMAINING AIRCRAFT. RECOVERED IN 1979 AFTER 36 YEARS UNDERWATER IN THE THJORSA RIVER IN ICELAND, THIS AIRCRAFT WAS REFURBISHED AT NORTHROP AND COMPLETED NOVEMBER 10, 1980, ON JACK NORTHROPíS 85th BIRTHDAY. THE AIRCRAFT IS ON PERMANENT DISPLAY AT GARDERMOEN BASE IN OSLO, NORWAY.
While this not the first time parts from a wrecked aircraft have been used for silhouette display purposes, this is the first time more than one hundred display plaques were fabricated from the same wreckage. These plaques have now become an historical memorial for the Northrop N-3PB aircraft.
Since 1979 one other N-3PB wreck has been recovered. To learn more about the N-3PB click on this link.