Click for full size diagram.(68K)
The above graphic is based on the map published by the Riverside Press-Enterprise which is based on actual NTSB documents.
The single most important feature to note is that the center fuel tank is clearly a secondary event. The vast majority of the fuel tank fell more than two miles after debris from the cabin and bodies first hit the water.
At the point where the weakened nose of the 747 tore off, the center of gravity would suddenly be behind the center of lift, and the remainder of the aircraft would become unstable, pitching up violently.. Aerodynamic forces would shred the aircraft, including the center fuel tank.
The nose gear and where the damage was reported.
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