Buried Spitfires Update
For the last year we have been hearing stories about real Spitfires buried in Burma by the RAF. It grabbed a lot of attention but nothing has come of it, at least not yet.
I have been pretty dubious of the whole thing.
Now the news media has a story that the govt of Myanmar, (used to be Burma), has signed a contract to dig up these planes. The head of the country and the Britiish Prime Minister, David Cameron had talks leading to this.
So maybe it will really happen, who knows if there is anything down there?
If the Spits were preserved and buried in crates by the RAF, I expect they would be in good condition, not destroyed by time or moisture like many suppose.
I wish the P M would get Rolls Royce to reopen a Merlin production line, some new ones of those would be very welcome. might be a little pricey though.
So what do you guys think? is this a pie in the sky story or are there really some whole planes down there?
How long before Tighar organizes a tour to observe the digging?
Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 10-19-2012 at 11:10 AM.
Back when I was a teenager, I had a 1946 Willys Jeep (immediate postwar civilian model, very similar to the WWII Jeep). When it came time to sell it, EVERYbody knew there was a guy in town who had dug up some left-over WWII models, and that the price I was asking ($600) was ridiculously high.
Well...them WWII Jeeps never did appear. I got my $600, and spent another $200 for a delux 1951 model.
I keep remembering this, with all the stories about buried Spitfires. They aren't in Greenland... The soil in SEA is warm, moist, and with a lot of organics in it. I question whether '40s technology could have protected the airplanes for 65 years. Especially when no one KNEW they'd have to be protected that long. I suspect the planes were prepared for ordinary shipping, only.
No doubt like "Glacier Girl," they'll be able to assemble a flying aircraft. But I'm betting they'll be brand-new aluminum
(Me 'n my replacement Jeep, a '51 model: http://www.wanttaja.com/jeep.jpg. I'm about 18 years old, here....)
EAA Staff / Moderator
It's really hard to guess at the condition of these planes. IF they were shipped like some of the planes had been shipped to North Africa, Australia, and even England early in the war, they might have been coated in Cosmoline. Cosmoline is a very greasy, waxy oily substance that prevents rust. Over the years, we have received some donated items here at the AirVenture Museum that were coated in Cosmoline and still looked like new. That being said, if the integrity of the crates has been lost, then chances are the Cosmoline would have dried out, leaving a very wax-like substance covering the planes, which still could offer some protection. Who knows if any of these planes were actually coated in Cosmoline or had any other protection beyond the wooden crates?
It shall be interesting to follow this story and see what turns up!
The story I read in the newspaper today said they were buried to hide them from the Japanese. If so, it was probably hurried with minimal protection.
Originally Posted by Zack Baughman
There would be no logic in burying planes unless they were at least in some way protected and/or preserved. If you just wanted to keep them out of Japanese use, they could have just burned or crushed them.
If instead you wanted to dig them up later, you'd do some sort of case or protection.
My question is not so much of the condition, but whether there is any truth to the story of them beeing there at all.
Google "Buried Spitfires Burma". The news articles from 2 days ago has quotes from the British Government. The article I saw also mentioned the British PM signed an agreement in April with the Burmese president that was needed to get the excavation going. There is also a spokesperson from Downing Street being quoted.
If the story is a fabrication, he's got the office of the British PM fooled.
Here's another underground aircraft story.
In the 1970's, the aviation press was reporting that Petroleum Helicopters, Inc. of Lafayette, LA bought a very large heavy lift helicopter from the Soviet Union. I think Breshnev was Premier. Fast forward a decade or two and my boss at a different company was telling me about his days at PHI and working for the late founder , Bob Suggs. We were sitting around with our milk and cookies one evening and "W" brought up the monster helo that Suggs bought. He said it was a MI-10 NATO code name "Harke." At the time, the largest skycrane type helicopter in the world. "W" was a loadmaster or flight engineer on it and Suggs campaigned it in the heavy lift business through out North and South America. He said that there was some kind of government financing on it. College of Industrial Arts or Community Investment Assoc or something like that with those initials and they threw most of the cash at this project. They got to play with it a lot too.
After a while, all parties lost interest in the big loud ugly critter. instead of giving it to an A&P school, it was decided to just quietly get rid of it. "W" tapped the wall map SSW of Lafayette, LA and said that he helped bury it RIGHT THERE. I doubt that its in salvegable shape because the water table is at the surface. I asked "W" if he was at least able to swipe the panel clock before the hole was filled in and he just smiled. That carcass is still there.
I have a friend in England, Steve Atkin, who is a Spitfire fan and has some knowledge of such matters. Steve knows David Cundall, the man who claims to have found these buried planes. Steve says he is "a good friend", a farmer in England. No proof , but one reference on the side that there may be something to this story.
Frankly, I certainly have some doubts about the story, but must reserve judgement till the digging is done, if it ever is. I am afraid the story may take on the character of the "Money Pit" mystery, with lot's of pit or pits, and a lot of money going in, but none coming out.
The idea that planes were buried "to hide them from the Japanese" is a strain in credibility. Why not fly them out? Or destroy them by crushing or setting fire to the gas tank? And it would take an enormous amount of work to dig a hole large enough to cover a lot of planes, whether 20 or 120, and such a hole would leave a lot of evidence that the enemy might excavate. Such a hole would not have been dug by hand lilkely, so what excavation equirtment did the troop have on hand at that time? Spits were in demand in combat in that area, would the RAF or U S just lose track of and forget about a large number of them? And would this have happened without a single photo surviving of it?
People get fooled by bogus stories, whether it is "birther" nonsense or some financial scheme from Nigeria, because they want to believe what is really an improbable tale.
And of course, once in a great while, just often enough to keep hope alive, the tall tale turns out to be true. Butch Schroeder heard for years a story about a Mustang in a garage downstate, and finally went to check it out. Sure enough, against all odds a real Mustang and not a four wheeled one by Ford, but an almost complete if disassembled Mustang and a photo recon one at that; and he flies it now.
I am not suggesting that Cundall is dishonest, he may firmly believe the stories that he has heard, but as of now, there are lot's of stories and no proof.
Once my young Sons were playing in our flower bed at our house, and dug up a "foot". Well part of the story is true, they definitely dug up something and it was a bone that really looked like a large foot. I was got a creepy feeling, hoping we had not found evidence of a murder in our yard. Charles, my 5 year old was firmly convinced it was a dinosoar bone and David tended toward evidence of Bigfoot. There was a story in the local paper about it. The explanation came from a local veterinarian that is was the lower jaw of a horse. It sure looked like a foot if you turned it the right way, and we never found the rest of the horse or how it got there.
I know a pilot who believes that aliens have made the crop circles, in England and he persists in this opinion even after the video taken at night of the nearby farm lads(definitedly non alien) stomping down the crops using a flat board with ropes on each end.
It is tempting to believe or at least hope that this Spitfire story is true, it would be a great find, and quite a service by David Cundall to history and his country.
Last edited by Bill Greenwood; 10-23-2012 at 12:16 PM.
My hunch is that they will dig up aircraft pieces of little salvageable value. How many times has a "time capsule" been dug up with a new car, precious papers etc. supposedly perfectly preserved - - only to find a pile of rust and dust?
Originally Posted by Zack Baughman
Every once in a while though . . .
As an aside this is an example of a perfectly preserved boat full size buried for 3500 years. (Ok a pharaoh was involved)
I find it hard to believe that any crate would survive having all that dirt piled on it. It isn't like they were put in a tunnel that was mostly self supporting. My guess is that they were crushed the minute they were buried, or shortly thereafter. That's tens of thousands of pounds of dirt on those packing crates. Even steel sea containers can't withstand forces like that. It would take some very specially designed crates indeed with supporting members as heavy as railroad ties.
Furthermore, you can't dip an entire spitfire in cosmolene to get it into every nook and cranny inside and outside. Even if the outside of the skin were to be coated, moisture could get inside and corrode it from the inside out.
This all assumes they are even there of course. Supposedly they have taken core samples and put cameras down the holes and found aluminum. I sure hope this all comes to a successful conclusion. Maybe when that many are dumped on the market I will even be able to afford one!