This Mitsubishi Zero has almost disappeared in the swamp in the highlands north of Port Moresby.
This image captured from a helicopter gives an indication of just how remote some of these wrecks are. This one sits three feet deep in water, covered in swamp grass. Not an easy prospect if ever it was intended to recover such a wreck.
Not all wrecks are found in the jungle. This Kawasaki Ki.61 'Tony' lies in shallow water and is well beyond any possible salvage. Robert's caption for this photo was, "Rare species of endangered whale awaits rescue from Greenpeace!"
For some it is just too late. This Japanese seaplane sadly has no future and will remain where it sits, steadily rotting into the soil. Tragically, you simply can't save them all.
This B-25 Mitchell resides at Poppendetta Airport. Unfortunately, its condition is poor and degrading with each passing year, but at least an attempt has been made to display it respectfully.
For many years, this P-47D Thunderbolt suffered the indignity of being mounted as if crashed vertically into the ground. The forward fuselage was concreted into the ground so it could not move whilst visitors cut holes in it and stole souvenirs. Thankfully, it was rescued in time to have a chance to come back to life as a restored fighter!
Here we see a P-38 Lightning nose quietly disappearing into the undergrowth. Thankfully, this has now been recovered to assist a P-38 restoration for the PNG National Museum.
This P-38 wreck seems to be struggling to breathe as it disappears beneath the undergrowth, soon to become completely invisible.
The nose of this P-38 is in poor shape, but worth trying to save.
Here's a great crew of helpers, welcoming and supportive of this latest warbird rescue.
The effects of time and the jungle environment have done far more damage to this P-38 Lightning that the original crash ever did.
Salvation at last. This Republic P-47D Thunderbolt enters a shipping container - a safe haven after years of progressive degradation at the hands of vandals, and from the elements.
Helpful villagers are always enthusiastic about the opportunity to earn some extra money working with the recovery teams.
Enthusiastic helpers from the local village are encouraged to understand the importance of helping to rescue these wrecks and not leave them to be destroyed by scrapping or by the effects of the elements.
This ex-RAAF P-40N-1 (A29-414) fuselage was overlooked during the main recoveries done at Aitape (Tadji) in 1974. It would have been lost forever however a return visit by Robert allowed it to be recovered. It has now been restored to fly and operates with the Vintage Wings Collection in Canada! An excellent outcome for all concerned!
Rosemary Szabo looks on as villagers carry the fuselage of a former Royal Australian Air Force P-40N-1 Kittyhawk fighter away from its resting place of seven decades. Very nearly overlooked for all time, this aircraft has now been restored to fly again, and is operating in Canada.
This forgotten P-40 wing with several others, had been buried and was literally gone from sight forever until Robert and his team made inquiries with villagers and thankfully, one of the elders knew where to dig to try to find them.
'Jungle Bob' laments not being able to rescue all of these once proud warbirds but the cost of recovery of large and heavy airframes from remote regions is horrendously expensive, so he can only afford to rescue a select few.
This Bristol Beaufort bomber (license built in Australia by DAP) is one of a number of incomplete Beaufort wrecks at the Aitape (Tadji) site. It is unlikely that any further wrecks will be recovered from here, sadly.
The Australian operated Beauforts married a sound British airframe design (by Bristol) with a reliable and powerful American engine (Pratt & Whitney R.1830). Both the airframe and engines were built under license in Australia and these proud aircraft went on to write a proud chapter for themselves in the war in the Pacific.
The stripped out interior of one of the Beaufort wrecks at Aitape.
This Beaufort will very likely cease to be recognisable in a fewa years time as the moist atmosphere eats away at the aluminium skin.
Rosemary Szabo looks inside one of the Aitape Beaufort wrecks. Rosemary has been on many recovery trips around the Pacific region.
Another former RAAF Beaufort bomber abandoned at Aitape.
This is the aft fuselage section of one of the Beaufort wrecks at Aitape
Jungle Bob supervises as his rented pick-up truck traverses one of the less-than-ideal bridges in a remote part of PNG.
The B-17 'Swamp Ghost' is aptly named. Working in these conditions made for a challenging recovery. At this point, the engines are being detached from the wings.
The steady preparation of the B-17 for her long awaited recovery, looks like a scene from a Hollywood movie!
Airbags feature a great deal in recoveries from swampy areas, as seen here. Note the early style US markings carried by 'Swamp Ghost'. Early in the war in the Pacific, the familiar red centres were removed from all allied aircraft national insignia to avoid any similarity to the Japanese 'meatball' markings that led to episodes of 'friendly fire'.
Enthusiastic local supporter and preservationist John LeiLei poses before the Swamp Ghost as the airbags slowly take her weight.
Aircraft engineer Bill Smith is always a valuable member of the recovery team. He is noted for his disdain for people who want to take photographs of him!
One of the four Wright R.2600 radial engines from the B-17 'Swamp Ghost' can be seen removed from the aircraft and ready to be brought out in the sling under the helicopter.
This aerial view provides an excellent indication of how the area around the B-17 was cleared to facilitate the recovery.
If ever there was a good use for the expression, 'The middle of nowhere', this would probably be it!
A typical village can be seen nestled beneath the palms by the river. Papua New Guinea boasts a natural beauty unlike anywhere in the world and which the visitor can't help but be captivated by.
Still easily recogniseable as a Lockheed P-38 vertical tail, the yellow US Army serial number can still be made out.
This Lockheed P-38 Lightning lies half submerged in a jungle stream. Needless to say, the ability of the aluminium airframe to survive in this harsh environment is limited.
Access can be the greatest challenge in rescuing lost aircraft. This Lockheed P-38 Lightning has certainly ended its career in a difficult piece of landscape.
This P-38 wreck has received attention from curious visitors looking for something of value by cutting open the booms to see what's inside. The jungle is clearly winning in this battle against time.
Finding Japanese aircraft is always fascinating but there is often very little left of what had been present before, especially after visits by scrap metal gatherers. At least this Mitsubishi Zero main instrument panel has been saved.
Robert 'Jungle Bob' Greinert seems to be weighing up CocoCola vs CocoaNut!
This Mitsubishi Zero in the Solomon Islands has been peppered with holes from wartime fragmentation bombs.
The aggressive growth of the jungle has almost completely consumed this Mitsubishi Zero fighter.
This often visited and photographed Japanese Nakajima Ki.49 'Helen' at Alexishafen is unlikely to ever be recovered. It has deteriorated terribly in recent years and the once intact fuselage has now broken in two. Decades of scrub fires have been the main culprits leading to this progressive destruction.
This wreck was once a Kawasaki Ki.61 'Tony' fighter, one of the prettiest fighters ever to come out of Japan. Sadly, Jungle Bob was too late to help this one as it has almost completely succumbed to the elements.
This section of Japanese fuselage quietly returns to the soil from whence it came.
As can be seen from this view, the port wing of the P-47D was torn off completely as it flew through trees before coming to rest.
This evocative scene was captured amongst the clouds, 8,500 feet up the side of a mountain where this P-47 came to rest on 29th April, 1944. It would have been a crime to leave it there to rot into the soil, but how on Earth to you save something like this in such a challenging location?!
Over seven decades after this aircraft suffered its unfortunate crash on the mountainside, it has now been saved to be restored to fly again. There could be no greater way to pay tribute to its last pilot, Lt. Marion Lutes (who it seems, survived the accident but never made it back to civilisation) than to restore this aircraft to fly again in his memory.
The nose-art and Japanese flags are still visible on P-47D Thunderbolt, 42-22687.
This close up view of the cockpit area clearly shows the names of the ground crew who tended to the needs of this aircraft 70 years earlier.
The Thunderbolt dug its starboard wing into the mountainside as it came to rest, requiring a massive excavation job to release the wreck for recovery.
The P-47D was not the prettiest site when she came to be lifted from the mountainside, but at least this spelled a chance for some kind of future. Note the starboard wheel tyre starting to come out of the wheel well.
Rob Greinert has taken many photographs on his travels, finding and at times recovering aircraft wrecks. In this gallery, 'Jungle Bob' shares with you some of the interesting wrecks he has been able to visit. Some of these have had happy endings. Others were less fortunate. The intention is to add to this gallery further images of past visits, along with new images from future wreck-hunting adventures.