VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) – A man who salvaged part of a World War II-era B-26 bomber from the bottom of a Yukon lake sued the Yukon government and the attorneys general of Canada and the United States, demanding the airplane back.
In his federal complaint, John Jasman says he “expended time, skill and resources, and incurred risk to persons and machinery, in successfully salvaging a portion of the fuselage of a B-26 Marauder bomber … from Watson Lake in the Yukon Territory.”
The plane crashed on the frozen lake in January 1942 on its way to the Aleutian Islands, “and had been abandoned and fallen through the ice in the spring melt,” according to the complaint.
Jasman says the old bomber was decaying, and his salvaging efforts entitle him to a reward. Instead, the Yukon government seized the plane and “seeks to maintain possession of the Aircraft for historical purposes.”
To make things more confusing, the Canadian government says the plane belongs to the United States, but the United States claims it is Canada’s property.
When Jasman and his brother Brian salvaged the plane in 2009, the Canadian Press reported that the Yukon Territory charged them with violating its heritage preservation laws. The government suspected the brothers were motivated by profit rather than historical preservation.
Known as “the Widowmaker” because of its tendency to stall and crash if landed at less than 150 mph, 5,288 B-26 Marauders were produced from 1942 to 1945. It saw service in D-Day, and also was nicknamed “The Flying Prostitute,” which “derived from its short wingspan, which appeared to give it no visible means of support,” according to the Canadian Press.
Jasman wants the plane, whose serial number is 40-1453. He points out that neither Canada nor the United States claims it, and it never belonged to the Yukon. In the alternative, he wants a salvage reward. He is represented by marine lawyer Darren Williams, of Victoria, B.C.