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Fact check: Viral image shows WWII-era aircraft, not a Russian jet downed in Kyiv

The claim: An image shows a Russian Su-34 aircraft shot down in Kyiv
A rumor that a mysterious Ukrainian fighter pilot, dubbed the “Ghost of Kyiv,” shot down six Russian jets has circulated widely on social media. The story is unverified, but some social media users claim an image shows one of the jets.

A Facebook post shared March 6 shows a black-and-white photo of an aircraft in the middle of a forested area.

“Su-34 shot down by Ukrainian Fighter Ace over Kiev,” reads the caption of the post. “pUtIn iS sCaReD.”

The post generated over 3,000 interactions in less than a week. But the claim is false, as independent fact-checking organizations have reported.

The image shows a U.S. aircraft that crashed at an airfield in Papua New Guinea. It was taken in 1944.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment.

Image shows US aircraft in 1944

The image in the post shows a U.S. B-17 aircraft that crash-landed at the Tadji Airfield in Papua New Guinea, according to Pacific Wrecks. Its “right wheel collapsed,” causing it to “skid off the runway” at the airfield, the nonprofit says on its website.

The U.S. Army Air Force captured the image May 4, 1944, during World War II. The aircraft’s parts have since been dismantled, according to Pacific Wrecks.

USA TODAY has debunked a series of out-of-context images and videos that have circulated online since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Our fact-check sources:

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