Now, two decades later, a team of researchers has found that the U2 — one of the most iconic U.K. spy planes — could have crashed to Earth even before the Cold War.
The researchers say the U1, which was made by Boeing, would have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean even before Russia entered the Cold Wars in the 1950s.
The U2 crashed in the same area in 1957.
The team, led by professor of aviation engineering and the aerospace engineering and science department at the University of Cambridge, say that the crash site is still “very much alive.”
“The U2, at the time, was a highly complex and extremely capable aircraft,” the study’s lead author, Richard Fenton, told BuzzFeed News.
“It was a superb instrument, the world’s best-performing plane.”
Fenton is one of several researchers studying the crash of the U4 in 1957 — a Boeing B-29 Superfortress that crashed into an oil tanker in the Gulf of Mexico.
The wreckage of the B-17 “Black Beauty” is shown here in 1958.
The crash site of the second plane is pictured here in 1960.
“When you compare it to the B2B, the B3B, and the B4B, all of which were in very poor shape and were in great danger of a collision, you see the similarities,” Fenton said.
“The B2 was in the middle of an air war, the crew was still at high levels of tension, there were problems with the engine, the cockpit had not been fully repaired, the fuel tanks had been damaged, the flight controls were not working properly.”
The B-3 was shot down by Soviet fighter jets in October of 1957, killing all 224 crew members, and causing the U6 crash at the end of the Cold war.
The B4 crashed into a river in 1957, in the Suez Canal.
The second plane was shot out of the sky in the North Sea in 1956.
And in 1962, the crash occurred in the Indian Ocean, when a U-1 crashed into British territory.
The study was published in the Journal of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and is based on data from a massive survey that included more than 1,000 pieces of wreckage from the two planes.
The findings have been corroborated by other experts, who also say the B7B crashed into sea at an altitude of 1,200 feet — higher than the one the researchers used to determine the B1 crash.
“These are the aircraft that we know that crashed,” Fentons co-author Andrew Denton told BuzzFeed.
“This is the airplane that was flown on the day it crashed.
This is the plane that crashed at 1,100 feet.
This plane that went down at 1.5 miles and then disappeared.
This airplane that went off the radar for two years.
This one crashed and then reappeared, which is the other plane.”
The two planes that crashed were B-1 and B-2, both of which crashed in 1953.
Both of the planes that were shot down in 1958 were B2Bs.
The first B-27 bomber crashed into North Atlantic waters in 1962 — killing all 246 crew members.
In 2014, a study published in Popular Mechanics said the U7 was shot by Soviet MiG-17s in the Korean War.
This photo shows a MiG fighter-bomber in the air in 1964.
This image from a video of an unidentified aircraft in the late 1970s shows it being shot down.
The aircraft was shot from a B-52 bomber, the plane the United States lost in a fiery crash in 1980.
The plane was flying from a training base near Yokosuka, Japan, to the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
“All of the evidence suggests that there was an accident,” Fentsons said.
Fenton says the team plans to return to the crash location to find more pieces of debris, as well as to look at the engines of the two B-47 bombers.
The next steps for the research team are to determine where the wreckage of each plane came from, as the two aircraft were built at the same time, and to determine what caused the crash.
Fentrons team is also looking at how the crash happened, to see if there was a fire, and whether any debris from the plane was salvaged.
“There is a great deal of evidence that indicates that the B11 crashed at the airport,” he said.