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Flight 27
Tp 79 Hugin at F 8 Barkarby in 1951.
Incident summary
Date 13 June 1952
Summary Shot down
Place East of Gotska Sandön
58°23.522′N 20°17.460′E / 58.392033°N 20.291°E / 58.392033; 20.291Coordinates: 58°23.522′N 20°17.460′E / 58.392033°N 20.291°E / 58.392033; 20.291
Passengers 0
Crew 8
Fatalities 8 (all)
Aircraft type DC-3A-360 Skytrain
Aircraft name Hugin 
Airline/user Swedish Air Force
Flew from Stockholm Bromma Airport
Stockholm, Sweden
Flying to Stockholm Bromma Airport
The Catalina shot down by Soviet forces while searching for the missing Hugin.
Incident summary
Date 16 June 1952
Summary Shot down
Place East of Gotska Sandön
Passengers 0
Crew 5
Fatalities 0
Aircraft type PBY-5 Catalina
Airline/user Swedish Air Force
Registration 19520616-1
Flew from F 2 Hägernäs
near Stockholm, Sweden
Flying to F 2 Hägernäs

The Catalina affair (Swedish: Catalinaaffären) was a military confrontation and Cold War-era diplomatic crisis in June 1952, in which Soviet fighter jets shot down two Swedish aircraft over international waters in the Baltic Sea.

The first aircraft to be shot down was a Swedish Air Force Tp 79 spy plane, a derivative of the Douglas DC-3, carrying out radio and radar signals intelligence-gathering for the National Defence Radio Establishment. None of the crew of eight were rescued.

The second aircraft to be shot down was a Swedish Air Force Tp 47, a Catalina flying boat, involved in the search and rescue operation for the missing DC-3. The Catalina's crew of five were saved.

The Soviet Union publicly denied involvement until its dissolution in 1991. Both aircraft were located in 2003, and the DC-3 was salvaged.

Aircraft and crew

DC-3

The first aircraft involved was a Swedish Air Force Douglas DC-3A-360 Skytrain, a military transport derivative of the DC-3 known in Swedish service as Tp 79. It carried the serial number 79001. In the media coverage following the event, it became known simply as "the DC-3."

The aircraft was manufactured in 1943 with original US serial number 42-5694, and was delivered to USAAF 15th Troop Carrier Squadron (61st Troop Carrier Group). It saw action in northern Africa before being stationed at RAF Barkston Heath. It was flown on February 5, 1946, from Orly Air Base via Hanau Army Airfield to Bromma and was registered as SE-APZ on May 18, 1946 as a civil aircraft to Skandinaviska Aero AB.

On June 13, 1952, it disappeared east of the isle of Gotska Sandön while carrying out signals intelligence-gathering operations for the Swedish National Defence Radio Establishment (FRA). The aircraft was lost with its entire crew of eight in the incident. Three of the eight crew members were military personnel from the Swedish Air Force, and the other five were civilian signals intelligence (SIGINT) operators from the National Defence Radio Establishment:

Catalina

Three days after the initial incident, on June 16, 1952, two Consolidated PBY-5 Catalina flying boats, known in Swedish service as Tp 47, searched for the DC-3 north of Estonia. One of the aircraft, carrying airframe serial no. 47002, was shot down by Soviet aircraft, but the crew of five ditched near the West German freighter Münsterland and were rescued.

Aftermath

Catalina TP 47 Mattias B
Tp 47 Canso (Catalina) at the Swedish Air Force Museum.

The Soviet Union denied shooting down the DC-3, but a few days later a life raft with Soviet shell shrapnel was found. In 1956, while meeting the Swedish Prime Minister Tage Erlander, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev admitted that the Soviet Union had shot down the DC-3. This information was not released to the public at the time.

Sweden maintained for nearly 40 years that the plane was undertaking a navigation training flight. Only after pressure from crewmembers' families did Swedish authorities confirm that the DC-3 was equipped with British equipment and had been spying for NATO.

In 1991 General Fyodor Sjinkarenko (ru), a colonel in the early 1950s, admitted he had ordered the DC-3 shot down in 1952 by scrambling a MiG-15bis to intercept it.

Recovery

DC-3 wreck at the Swedish Air Force Museum (starboard propeller and front)
DC-3 wreckage exhibited at the Swedish Air Force Museum.

On June 10, 2003, airline captain Anders Jallai and historian Carl Douglas with the Swedish company Marin Mätteknik AB found the remains of the downed DC-3 by using sonar at 126 m (413 ft) depth. Some time later the Catalina was also found, 22 kilometres (14 mi) east of the official splashdown point.

After 52 years, the remains of the DC-3 were lifted to the surface on March 19, 2004 by freezing the wreck with some 200 m3 (7,100 cu ft) of sediments. The wreck was transferred to Muskö naval base for investigation and preservation, and was finally put on display at Swedish Air Force Museum, Linköping on May 13, 2009. A 1:12 scale model of 79001 was loaned to the Air Force Museum on May 5, 2009.

Conclusion

Bullet holes on 79001 showed that the DC-3 was shot down by a MiG-15bis fighter. The exact splashdown time was also determined, as one of the clocks in the cockpit had stopped at 11:28:40 CET. To this date the remains of four of the eight-man crew have been found and positively identified.

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