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Spitfires found in Burma

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Spitfires found in Burma

Old 6th Jan 2013, 19:07
  #201 (permalink)  
 
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I'm rather surprised no-one has mentioned it, and it isn't an exact parallel, but there was a P38 Lightning recovered in the '90s from under 250 ft of ice in Greenland. It was unprotected and covered by an accumulation of snow that fell over the succeeding decades and compacted into ice. That was damaged, but not completely crushed, and is now restored and flying.

Aircraft | Glacier Girl |

If that can survive being buried 250ft down, then I'd have thought that the Spitfires, if still dismantled, crated and protected would have an equal chance. Of course, the ice acted to preserve the P38 and the environment in Burma won't be so benign - but that aspect of the preservation will depend on the quality of the original packaging.

As for restoration, if its possible to restore to flying condition a Spitfire that has been buried in salt water/sand for 40 years then I can't imagine that crated/preserved ones would present much of a problem.

About the Project | Spitfire I P9374

I don't know if they are there - I hope they are - but I think the pessimists might consider the examples above before saying its impossible. Either way, we should know soon.

Incidentally, there are still 5 more P38s buried there. Also a pair of B17s, but they didn't survive the crushing effect of the ice.

The lost squadron

.

Last edited by pvmw; 6th Jan 2013 at 19:11.
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Old 6th Jan 2013, 23:04
  #202 (permalink)  
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Lanc restoration:Lancaster bomber to fly as tribute to a lost brother - Telegraph
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 06:57
  #203 (permalink)  
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if its possible to restore to flying condition a Spitfire that has been buried in salt water/sand for 40 years
It isn't. BUT! If you have the data plate and the drawings, it is legal to build a new aircraft around the data plate and put it into the air as "Restored". What they are really digging for in Burma is a couple of dozen original data plates and the Griffon engine blocks and data plates to go with them.
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 06:59
  #204 (permalink)  
 
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As for restoration, if its possible to restore to flying condition a Spitfire that has been buried in salt water/sand for 40 years then I can't imagine that crated/preserved ones would present much of a problem.
Given that nowadays it seems that all you need is a surviving manufacturer's ID plate, and you can "restore" an aircraft around it, you are technically correct.

Edit: great minds think alike !

Last edited by DaveReidUK; 7th Jan 2013 at 07:00. Reason: great minds think alike !
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 07:29
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If you have the data plate and the drawings, it is legal to build a new aircraft around the data plate and put it into the air as "Restored".
Point taken. At which point does a restoration become a replica, reproduction, or - the latest buzz word of the vintage car auction houses - as "Evocation"! However, as far as the crush damage is concerned if it is possible to retrieve and restore "Glacier Girl" from under 150 ft of ice then there is a fair chance that securely crates and dismantled Spitfires may be relatively undamaged. I think they claimed to have used about 80% of the original of the P38.

As for corrosion/rot etc are concerned, if they were securely packed and protected then the corrosion may be limited. Have a look at the LSR car Babs, buried for 40 years under the sands of Pendine beach. Electrolytic corrosion had completely destroyed the aluminium body, but the rest of it was actually in remarkably good condition.

Pendine Sands

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Last edited by pvmw; 7th Jan 2013 at 07:31.
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 07:49
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Electrolytic corrosion had completely destroyed the aluminium body, but the rest of it was actually in remarkably good condition.
That wouldn't really be very good news if we were talking instead about an aircraft ...
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 09:28
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That wouldn't really be very good news if we were talking instead about an aircraft ...
I completely accept that. Its why the quality of the packing/preservation will be so important. To be fair, Babs was immersed in a sandy beach for 40 years, and salt water is a good electrolyte. If you read the history, they simply dug a big hole in the sand and chucked the remains of the car in. When Wyn Owen dug it up, they weren't sure they were going to find anything recoverable at all.

I used to get the opportunity to race a pre-war 4 1/5 litre lagonda. That had been covered in army grease and buried in the Far East as the Japanese approached. The owner survived the war, and returned to dig it up - to find that termites had eaten everything digestible, but that the mechanics were still pristine. He has it re-bodied by a local boatbuilder working from a photo of a LeMans car. All considering, he did a good job.

Until they dig something up we are all guessing.
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 11:15
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So the data plate is basically the same as a car VIN number then?
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 14:48
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Dataplate ~ VIN.

It is interesting that the commentry regarding Glacier Girl from the Airventure site states;
Once the P-38 was located, they used a piece of equipment that resembled a top. It melted the ice by circulating hot water and pumping it through copper tubing coiled around the outside. The machine cut a 4-foot-wide hole, and they used it five times to enlarge the hole enough to remove the 7,000-pound center section of the plane.

But before that they had to free every piece of the plane from ice. They used a hot-water cannon with men going down the shafts using cables to disassemble the P-38 piece-by-piece before raising it to the surface.

Eventually, the plane and its pieces made it to project funder Roy Shoffner's hangar in Middlesboro, Kentucky, where restoration began in November 1992. "The more we took apart, the more we realized things were broken," he said. "In the end we had one piece left and a big pile of junk."

But because the plane was the only one of its kind they salvaged as much as possible, eventually salvaging 80 percent of the P-38F.
which perhaps explains why the restoration took so long. I saw the un-restored airframe and to say it was 'trashed' is to understate the meaning of trashed. I cannot remember a single panel which was not distorted or structural member not cracked. The lack of corrosion was very evident - but so was the damage.

Given the tropically conditions in Burma it will be interesting to see what state they are in (always presuming the very poor but very resourceful locals did not use them as raw materials within days of them being buried - if indeed they actually were buried.....)
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 15:44
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Quote:
Given that nowadays it seems that all you need is a surviving manufacturer's ID plate, and you can "restore" an aircraft around it, you are technically correct.

A data plate is not a pre-requisite to rebuild a Spitfire. The CAA require a provenance and ownership trail to an RAF serial number identity.

All that the construction number data plates give you are details of approximately where in the production cycle the assembly was made. For purposes of the CAA construction number requirement the cockpit plate, if there is one still attached, is usually quoted but equally the plate from the Frame 5 firewall sub assembly will suffice. The RAF ID is not stamped on either of these plates and the general digits thereon are basically meaningless to but a few aficionados

The 'platinum' plate is in the wing bolt area should over size bolts have been fitted for this has both the cockpit c/n and the RAF serial stamped on and has been the key to putting a number of RAF identities on to otherwise orphan Spitfires.

Mark
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 16:11
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If they are even there, the airframes will be largely scrap, anyone who thinks they will be protected by tar or whatnot and emerge in "great condition" needs their head examined
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 16:35
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Just looked at Google Earth area at Mingaladon Airport where someone posted a possible site for the Spitfires. Just a few yards away is a pond that is full of water and I note the airfield is surrounded with small ponds. Wet as hell just a few feet down - let alone 30 or 40.........

Also if Mosquitoes delaminated easily in the tropics then with termites and such and 70 Monsoons and thin UK plywood cases I wonder if this is just a case of an over-enthusiastic aviation memorabilia junkie's final quest......

Not too long before we hear the results.
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Old 7th Jan 2013, 22:08
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Obviously you are both very well informed.

Here is a shot of a Spitfire being pulled out of wet claggy clay in November 2005. The roundel and aluminium are pristine.

You might think that was water in the bottom of the hole....no, it's aviation fuel.

Mark

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Old 8th Jan 2013, 16:01
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Update by Adam Booth, Imperial College London

A story of Spitfires? Archaeological geophysics in Burma (Part 2) | GeoLog
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Old 8th Jan 2013, 21:09
  #215 (permalink)  
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Here is a shot of a Spitfire
Is that potentially the basis for a flyer Mark22?
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Old 8th Jan 2013, 23:35
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MA764/G-MCDB.
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Old 9th Jan 2013, 07:50
  #217 (permalink)  
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The more the merrier!
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Old 9th Jan 2013, 08:51
  #218 (permalink)  
 
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Excellent work by Matt Poole at following links. Overlay of 1940s photo recce imagery of Mingaladon onto Google Earth.

Key Publishing Ltd Aviation Forums - View Single Post - Spitfires From Burma (Merged thread)

Key Publishing Ltd Aviation Forums - View Single Post - Spitfires From Burma (Merged thread)
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Old 9th Jan 2013, 09:33
  #219 (permalink)  
 
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I see the drip feed of information has started.

"Full of muddy water"

"It will take some time to pump the water out ... but I do expect all aircraft to be in very good condition," Mr Cundall said from Rangoon"

Burma Spitfire search finds water-filled crate that may contain plane - Telegraph


Why don't they just wait until they have dug the thing up and
hauled it to the surface !
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Old 9th Jan 2013, 09:38
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So much for the water proof measures taken to ensure the aircraft remained dry.
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