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Burmese treasure:'We've done some pretty silly things but the silliest was burying the Spitfires'
Canberra Times ^ | 16 April 2012 | Adam Lusher

Posted on 04/16/2012 1:58:33 PM PDT by Theoria

EXTRAORDINARY plans to raise a lost ''squadron'' of Spitfires that have lain buried in Burma since the end of World War II were revealed at the weekend as David Cameron, Britain's Prime Minister, visited Rangoon.

A Lincolnshire farmer who devoted 15 years of his life to finding the planes has spoken about his quest to recover them and get them airborne.

David Cundall, 62, has spent £130,000 ($200,000) of his money, visited Burma 12 times, persuaded its secretive regime to trust him, and all the time sought testimony from a dwindling band of Far East veterans in order to locate the Spitfires. Advertisement: Story continues below

His treasure hunt was sparked by little more than a throwaway remark from a group of US veterans made 15 years ago to his friend and fellow aviation archaeologist, Jim Pearce.

Mr Cundall said: ''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 US, he told me.''

Mr Cundall realised the Spitfires would have been buried as they had been shipped, still in their crates. Before they were shipped to the Far East, they would have been waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred, to protect them against the elements.

The first step was to place advertisements in magazines, trying to find soldiers who buried Spitfires. ''The trouble was that many of them were dying of old age,'' Mr Cundall said. He visited Burma over and over again, slowly building relations with its junta. Finally, he found the Spitfires, at a location that is being kept a secret. Mr Cundall said: ''We sent a borehole down and used a camera to look at the crates. They seemed to be in good condition.''

In August 1945, the Mark XIV aircraft, which used Rolls-Royce Griffon engines instead of the Merlins of earlier models, were put in crates and transported from a factory in the West Midlands to Burma. Once they arrived, however, the Spitfires were deemed surplus to requirements. The order was given to bury 12 Spitfires without even unpacking them. It is possible that a further eight were then buried in December 1945.

Mr Cundall said: ''In 1945, Spitfires were 10 a penny. Jets were coming into service. Spitfires were struck off charge, unwanted. Lots of Spitfires were just pushed off the back of aircraft carriers into the sea. On land, you couldn't leave them for the locals - they might have ended up being used against you.''

Ground radar images showed that inside the crates were Spitfires with their wings packed alongside the fuselages. The Britons want to work to restore as many of the 20 Spitfires as possible and get them flying. There are only about 35 flying in the world.

The final obstacle to recovering the Spitfires, however, is political: international sanctions forbid the movement of military materials in and out of Burma, and it was also feared the regime would not allow any foreign excavations.

But because of the new, reforming stance of the government, the sanctions on movement of military material may be lifted on April 23. With the help of Mr Cameron and his visit to Burma, a deal is being negotiated and hopes are high that it will conclude with President Thein Sein granting permission for the dig.


TOPICS: History; Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: aviation; burma; godsgravesglyphs; spitfire; treasure; worldwareleven; wwii
Wow. It would be nice to get them flying. Always nice to hear the sound of freedom.
1 posted on 04/16/2012 1:58:49 PM PDT by Theoria
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To: Theoria

Britian may soon need these for close ground support to save them from the ‘muzzies’.


2 posted on 04/16/2012 2:05:02 PM PDT by Kartographer ("We mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.")
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To: Theoria; SunkenCiv; Jeff Head; Homer_J_Simpson

It would be awesome if they are still in good condition!!


3 posted on 04/16/2012 2:06:20 PM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: Theoria

We need more B-17s!


4 posted on 04/16/2012 2:06:47 PM PDT by Bartholomew Roberts
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To: GeronL

Spitfire Mark XIVs were on the cutting edge of what could be done with a piston-engined prop fighter. The Griffon in the XIV made over 2,000 horsepower; it could do 445 mph at top speed. That’s double the horsepower, 90 more mph top speed, and double the climb rate of the Mk I Spitfires from the Battle of Britain just four years earlier. They are absolute beasts.

The XIVs are easiest to tell apart from the older Spitfires by the prop...they used an odd-looking five-bladed propeller. It rotated the opposite direction from the Merlin-engined ones, so pilots transitioning to the Griffon-engined fighters had to get used to a lot of torque pulling the opposite direction from what they were used to.

}:-)4


5 posted on 04/16/2012 2:15:57 PM PDT by Moose4 ("Oderint dum metuant" -- "Let them hate, as long as they fear." (Lucius Accius, c. 130 BC))
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To: Theoria
Spitfire XIV head on. Pictures, Images and Photos

Griffon engine with 5 blade prop.

6 posted on 04/16/2012 2:26:33 PM PDT by Snickering Hound
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To: Moose4

One of the prelimary reports posted on FreeRepublic yesterday suggested that these Spits were Mk II’s. I didn’t think that could be correct for 1945. But Mk XIV’s? Wow!


7 posted on 04/16/2012 2:40:13 PM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
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To: Theoria

nice job on the search for ‘spitfires’ title. ooops


8 posted on 04/16/2012 2:45:36 PM PDT by Theoria (Rush Limbaugh: Ron Paul sounds like an Islamic terrorist)
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To: Moose4; All
They are absolute beasts.

Then let us make a pledge to stay in good health so us and other Freepers can meet @ Oshkosh in 2 to 5 years to hear a few of these scream in Formation...

9 posted on 04/16/2012 2:46:52 PM PDT by taildragger (( Palin / Mulally 2012 ))
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To: Tallguy

At least those Spitfires were buried to preserve them. When Japan surrendered, whole escort-carrier-loads of brand-new, factory-fresh Navy Corsairs and Hellcats were just pushed over the side into the Pacific. The Navy already had thousands of them; with the war over, why carry them out to the Far East just to have to bring them home? So they were dumped into a watery grave by the dozens. Makes you weep just thinking about it now.

}:-)4


10 posted on 04/16/2012 2:58:05 PM PDT by Moose4 ("Oderint dum metuant" -- "Let them hate, as long as they fear." (Lucius Accius, c. 130 BC))
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To: Theoria

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if David Gilmour from Pink Floyd committed some funds to the recovery and restoration. He’s a huge fan of vintage aircraft, and founded Intrepid Aviation Co. Ltd., which he later sold.


11 posted on 04/16/2012 3:07:44 PM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: Moose4

Perhaps a stupid question, but here goes: What would stop a well-funded company from bringing Spitfires or Mustangs back into production?

I read that the US is looking at adopting a new prop-driven ground attack aircraft, and is thinking of buying them from Brazil or some other South American country. There would be a market for a brand-new WWII model fighters upgraded with modern radar and technology.

If we did it once, why can’t we do it again?


12 posted on 04/16/2012 3:11:43 PM PDT by PastorBooks
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To: Moose4

Met an airforce vet who spent some time with an air refueling detachment at Midway in the 60’s. Said there were crates on top of crates of brand new Allison V-12 engines sitting along the flight line. Totally bagged & cosomolined. Order came down to “push them into the lagoon”. UGH! What a waste!


13 posted on 04/16/2012 3:14:49 PM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
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To: PastorBooks

Flugwerk — a German aviation company — has built kit versions of the FW-190. They have a version of the FW-190D “Dora” discussed on their website. I belive that these are scaled-down versions of the original, but still...


14 posted on 04/16/2012 3:17:21 PM PDT by Tallguy (It's all 'Fun and Games' until somebody loses an eye!)
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To: Theoria

I’d settle for just one, myself. Why not? The FedEx guy is already mad at me for the ammo.


15 posted on 04/16/2012 3:19:13 PM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Theoria
Mk 14..one my favorite's...however from some my warbirds friends...these were well known for some time..the problem is the water table is so high there most likely rotted out
16 posted on 04/16/2012 3:20:40 PM PDT by tophat9000 (American is Barack Oaken)
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To: PastorBooks
Except the AF would never buy them!
17 posted on 04/16/2012 3:20:40 PM PDT by Reily
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To: Reily; PastorBooks; zot
I read that the US is looking at adopting a new prop-driven ground attack aircraft, and is thinking of buying them from Brazil or some other South American country. There would be a market for a brand-new WWII model fighters upgraded with modern radar and technology.

I'm no expert - not even a pilot - but if you want to bring back a WW II aircraft for ground support I would think it would have to be the A1-E SKYRAIDER! What a beast of an aircraft!

Semper Fi,

TS

18 posted on 04/16/2012 4:50:26 PM PDT by The Shrew (www.wintersoldier.com; www.tstrs.com; The Truth Shall Set You Free!)
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To: The Shrew

yep I agree!


19 posted on 04/16/2012 5:25:31 PM PDT by Reily
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To: The Shrew

I agree!


20 posted on 04/16/2012 6:49:11 PM PDT by zot
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To: The Shrew

SkyRaiders! Yes!!

I HAD A PAIR OF THEM FLY CLOSE AIR SUPPORT FOR MY COMPANY ONE TIME. Got right down on the deck with us.


21 posted on 04/16/2012 7:16:02 PM PDT by VietVet (I am old enough to know who I am and what I believe, and I 'm not inclined to apologize for any of)
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To: PastorBooks

The aircraft that are being floated as light counter-insurgency strike aircraft are going to be turboprops. Modern turboprop engines can produce more power per pound than even the best piston engine, with far less complexity, easier maintenance, and easier access to fuel. (Jet fuel is actually easier to find than the leaded aviation gasoline than even light piston engines require...much less the serious high-octane juice that engines like the Merlin and Griffon were built for.)

The plane you’re thinking of is the Embraer Super Tucano, from Brazil. It’s already in use with several South American countries, and won the USAF competition though it’s tied up in court with the losing company, Hawker Beechcraft. If the court case gets resolved, the USAF Super Tucanos will be built in Jacksonville.

Interestingly, in the 1980s, Piper Aircraft *did* try to produce an upgraded, modern, turboprop version of the venerable Mustang for the USAF as a strike and counterinsurgency. They called it the PA-48 Enforcer. I’ve seen one of the remaining prototypes, it’s at the USAF Museum in Dayton, Ohio.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piper_Enforcer

}:-)4


22 posted on 04/16/2012 8:00:15 PM PDT by Moose4 ("Oderint dum metuant" -- "Let them hate, as long as they fear." (Lucius Accius, c. 130 BC))
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To: Moose4
Makes you weep just thinking about it now.

Agree. What a waste. But then again in the postwar, if you could buy a Corsair at the Army-Navy store, would Piper Aircraft ever had a chance?

23 posted on 04/16/2012 8:09:13 PM PDT by Ditto (Nov 2, 2010 -- Partial cleaning accomplished. More trash to remove in 2012)
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To: Theoria

“There are only about 35 flying in the world. “

If he’s still alive, he would be 84, one of them is at Whitman Air Park in the San Fernando Valley belonging to Nelson Whitmnan.

When he returned from Korea his dad had a newly refutbished one waiting for him!


24 posted on 04/16/2012 8:20:58 PM PDT by dalereed
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To: Theoria

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Theoria.
Ground radar images showed that inside the crates were Spitfires with their wings packed alongside the fuselages. The Britons want to work to restore as many of the 20 Spitfires as possible and get them flying. There are only about 35 flying in the world.
Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


25 posted on 04/16/2012 8:48:29 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (FReepathon 2Q time -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: Moose4

Fascinating... I did not know that.


26 posted on 04/16/2012 10:36:23 PM PDT by PastorBooks
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To: dalereed
I think my Brother and I flew into there back in the 60’s.

I recall there were some old smokestacks next door painted white and orange. Made it easy to locate from the air.

It's been a loooooong time, so I hope by old brain isn't playing tricks on me.

27 posted on 04/16/2012 10:47:52 PM PDT by Kickass Conservative (A day without Obama is like a day without a Tsunami.)
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To: Kickass Conservative

That’s the airport.

The Whitmans not only owned it and lived in a neat home on top of the hill at the airport, they also produced concrete punping equipment.

I haven’t seen Nelson aince the 50s when I quit building and racing cars to get married.

I didn’t start flying until the late 70s but knew Nelson when he was a hotrodder in the early and mid 50s.


28 posted on 04/16/2012 11:11:43 PM PDT by dalereed
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