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View Full Version : Buried treasure in Burma: Squadron of lost WWII Spitfires to be exhumed



Rockntractor
04-19-2012, 11:28 AM
Yar -- it's buried PILOT treasure!

Like a treasure chest stuffed with priceless booty, as many as 20 World War II-era Spitfire planes are perfectly preserved, buried in crates beneath Burma -- and after 67 years underground, they're set to be uncovered.

The planes were shipped in standard fashion in 1945 from their manufacturer in England to the Far East country: waxed, wrapped in greased paper and tarred to protect against the elements. They were then buried in the crates they were shipped in, rather than let them fall into enemy hands, said David Cundall, an aviation enthusiast who has spent 15 years and about $200,000 in his efforts to reveal the lost planes.

The 62-year-old man -- a British farmer by trade -- realized the fate of the aircraft thanks to an offhand comment a group of American veterans made to a friend, he told the Sydney Morning Herald.

'We've done some pretty silly things in our time, but the silliest was burying Spitfires.'

- David Cundall, aviation enthusiast

''They told Jim: 'We've done some pretty silly things in our time, but the silliest was burying Spitfires.' And when Jim got back from the U.S., he told me,'" Cundall said.

The location of the planes, which remains a closely kept secret, was confirmed during a recent trip to the Far East country, he said.

''We sent a borehole down and used a camera to look at the crates. They seemed to be in good condition," Cundall told the Herald.

The Spitfire Mark XIV planes are rare for more than one reason: They used Rolls Royce Griffon engines rather than the Merlins used in earlier models to achieve tremendous speeds. Griffon-powered planes could reach 440 mph thanks to the hefty, 2,050-horsepower engines.

When production of the planes ultimately ended in 1947, 20,334 Spitfires of all versions had been produced, but just 2,053 of them were Griffon-powered versions, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The planes were deemed surplus and were buried in Aug., 1945 -- potentially along with another eight later in the year. At that time, propeller planes were falling out of fashion in favor of newer jet-engine designs -- Cundall said Spitfires "were 10 a penny." British military officials decided burying them was cheaper and more practical than bringing them home.

International sanctions prevent military material from leaving the country, but a recent visit by British Prime Minister David Cameron may enable the safe exhumation and return of the planes to England.

Only about 35 Spitfires are currently flying.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/2012/04/19/buried-treasure-in-burma-squadron-lost-wwii-spitfires-to-be-exhumed/?intcmp=features#ixzz1sV60IpKm

Zathras
04-20-2012, 01:09 AM
Man, this is a treasure beyond value. I looked it up on Wiki and found out there are multiple sites in Burma where Spits were buried, one with 20 and another with at least 36 Spit 14's in their crates and buried. As a aviation buff, I'm really looking forward to see one of the most beautiful fighters ever made returning to flight status after 67 years in the ground.

Rockntractor
04-20-2012, 10:03 AM
Man, this is a treasure beyond value. I looked it up on Wiki and found out there are multiple sites in Burma where Spits were buried, one with 20 and another with at least 36 Spit 14's in their crates and buried. As a aviation buff, I'm really looking forward to see one of the most beautiful fighters ever made returning to flight status after 67 years in the ground.

Awesome!

2,050-horsepower engines.

Zathras
04-20-2012, 10:49 AM
Also I wonder what version(s) of the MKXIV are buried there. There are at least three I know of, with different wings and armament. There's the standard version with a single 20mm cannon and 2 30 cal MG's in each wing, the LF version with shortened wings for a better roll rate at low altitude and the XIVe which replaced the 2 30 cals with a single 50 cal.

Hopefully there will be all three versions (or more) there to be recovered.

fettpett
04-20-2012, 01:41 PM
now if they could find more P-51's, B-25's and B-17's that would be even more awesome!!!

Odysseus
04-20-2012, 02:38 PM
now if they could find more P-51's, B-25's and B-17's that would be even more awesome!!!

The one that I want is the Grumman XF5F. They only built a couple of prototypes, but it was one of the coolest aircraft ever.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeiz_HsMvnI&feature=player_embedded

fettpett
04-20-2012, 02:44 PM
The one that I want is the Grumman XF5F. They only built a couple of prototypes, but it was one of the coolest aircraft ever.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeiz_HsMvnI&feature=player_embedded

that's pretty sick... defiantly see where the A-10 got it's concept from

Starbuck
04-20-2012, 04:21 PM
What I'm wondering is how hard it is going to be to get the Burmese (Myanmar) government's permission to excavate WWII treasures.
We ain't exactly good friends with them. There may be a U.S. Ambassador there now, but if there is it is only recent.

Zathras
04-20-2012, 04:40 PM
What I'm wondering is how hard it is going to be to get the Burmese (Myanmar) government's permission to excavate WWII treasures.
We ain't exactly good friends with them. There may be a U.S. Ambassador there now, but if there is it is only recent.

From what I've read the British have come to an agreement with the current government to allow recovery of the burried aircraft and return of them to England.

Zathras
04-20-2012, 04:49 PM
The one that I want is the Grumman XF5F. They only built a couple of prototypes, but it was one of the coolest aircraft ever.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oeiz_HsMvnI&feature=player_embedded

If I had a choice of WW2 aircraft to own it would be one of these 3....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkWnHma45fk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhOTB52hJKU

Odysseus
04-21-2012, 12:38 AM
that's pretty sick... defiantly see where the A-10 got it's concept from

There's a superficial resemblance, but the two aircraft couldn't be more different. The A-10 was designed as a close air support platform. It's basically an armored bathtub with wings that has a tremendous lift capability, but doesn't put on a lot of speed. In fact, it's meant to fly slowly so that it can effectively engage stationary targets. The XF5F was a fighter that was designed to outmaneuver other aircraft, and which had a tremendous rate of climb due to an extremely high thrust to weight ratio. Unfortunately, the design had a flaw, in that the placement of the cockpit limited visibility, especially on landings. Grumman was working on a slightly more conventional redesign of the aircraft, but the prototype developed an engine malfunction and crashed.

The funny story about it was that while it was still in testing, Reed Crandall used it as the plane in the Blackhawk comic. This led the FBI to visit him at his studio, where they wanted to know how he knew about the highly classified prototype. During the interview, a Grumman pilot buzzed his house in the XF5F, at which point the chagrined agents packed up their stuff and left.


If I had a choice of WW2 aircraft to own it would be one of these 3....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkWnHma45fk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhOTB52hJKU

The ME262 was a great fighter that was misused as a bomber, and was the fastest production aircraft flown during the war. The ME109 started out as a great fighter, but it was outclassed by the Spitfire and the Mustang, and by the end of the war, it was considered a death trap. The FW190 was the better fighter, but had smaller production runs, and so became less famous. I'd love to have a 262, but not the others. Of course, I'd also love a Mustang and a P-38 Lightning.