During World War Two, American pilot Leonard "Tuck" Smith flew Consolidated Catalina's with RAF 209 Squadron. He described the Co. Fermanagh waterway: "Lough Erne; The most beautiful runway in the world".
During the Second World War, thousands of British, American, Canadian, and Australian troops were in Fermanagh. The shores of Lough Erne provided 3 major bases in St. Angelo Airfield, Killadeas, and Castle Archdale. These bases proved vital in the Allies’ protection of shipping convoys during the Battle of the Atlantic.
World War Two plane discovered in 2019
On 3rd July 2019, news broke of the discovery of a World War Two-era plane, believed to be a Catalina, at the bottom of Lower Lough Erne. Charts Special Interest Group first located an anomaly 45 metres under the water in 2018. On 8th April 2018, they carried out a sonar scan to test their theory that the anomaly was a submerged Catalina. Rory McNeary, a maritime archaeologist with the Department of Agriculture, Environment, and Rural Affairs arranged the investigation.
Experts suggest the wreck is a crash site rather than a scuttled plane. There is potential for human remains to still be onboard and so the site is protected under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.