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Spitfires found in Burma

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Spitfires found in Burma

Old 15th Apr 2012, 14:38
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Fairly on topic...

I recall back in about 1999 at Coltishall, we had some suvey chaps doing 'geophys' (Tony Robinson not in sight) around the BFI closest to the revetments on the domestic side - inside the perimeter, but also in fields which used to be part of the base but had been given back to agriculture. Rumour was that when the Poles were there in '45 they chucked a few crates of complete Merlin engines into a big hole in the gorund there...along with some munitions and so on. Now I heard it was the MoD (at the request of the BBMF) who commissioned this survey - I'm not sure if anything was ever excavated though.
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Old 15th Apr 2012, 15:06
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Heart says that military stuff tends on the whole to be well packed - remember that these were supposedly shipped brand new to Burma, not flown and probably well protected from the effects of salt water ingress and coated with preservative waxes etc. It was common to bury surplus stuff after the war from what I've heard; Hethel (Lotus Factory) was rumoured to have a hoard of B24 engines and jeeps buried somewhere on site, and MIRA had trouble with magnetic anomolies due to big lumps of ferrous material buried by the RAF.

Good luck to the effort I say, and I hope they find something useful (although my head does say that nearly 70 years in under rain forest might only yield oxide and rotten wood). Give me a shovel and show me where to dig!
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Old 15th Apr 2012, 15:42
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Apparently when shipped they were wrapped in wax paper and covered in a protective grease. Should be as good as new. Please add my name to the list - I want one!
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Old 15th Apr 2012, 16:22
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I hope these aren't false hopes....anyone else remember this?

Car unearthed 50 years later - US news - Life - msnbc.com
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Old 15th Apr 2012, 18:02
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Buried Spitfires in Burma

I was in those parts from the end of '42 to '46 (ABDA ? - I had to Wiki it - didn't last long, apparently, ACSEA ruled the roost in my time). First reaction: "to Hell with this for a tale". India then abounded in stories of (commonly) the brand-new family car which had to be left behind in the withdrawal and was buried (and that takes a fair amount of labour!) or hidden in a cave somewhere where the Japs wouldn't find it and you could go back to it later (you hoped).

Only ever heard of one such success: a padre buried the Mess bar stocks of Scotch and Gordon's in the Mess garden; it so happened that the Squadron did go back to the same spot in '45, and it was all there (shows the power of prayer!)

Spit XIVs in 1945 ? They would certainly be out there at the end, I think my old Squadron (8 IAF) got them when they got rid of their Vengeances. Why scrap them (or bury them ?) when soon-to-be independent India was using them for some time, would be glad of them, and we were on good terms ? Is it possible to determine the Mark on the ground radar scans ? Or distinguish a Merlin from a Griffon ? (always supposing the things are there).

And if for some weird reason you wanted to destroy them, why not burn them where they stood (as I was ordered to do with my Lend-Lease aircraft - or chuck 'em overboard if they were deck cargo ?). 1945 and XIVs ? - I think not.

1942 and Mark IIs ? I would have scoffed at that too, but for the fact that it starts to tie in with a tale which was going the rounds in the autumn of '42. I finished Spitfire OTU then, was sent out to India with 35 other new pilots.. The story on the ship was that a Spitfire Wing was to be set up out there; we were going to be part of it. A Wing Commander Paul Richey (of Battle of Britain renown) was on board; it all seemed to fit. Of course, Burma was past praying for then, but India still had to be defended. It is just possible that these aircraft had been shipped out there CKD much earlier, the hope being that they could assemble them there before Burma fell to the Japs, and if the worst came to the worst (which it did) at least ferry them back to India.

As for the burial story, I don't see the US Cee-Bees being around there at that time. Bulldozers ? - you'd be lucky! It would be all hand labour, plenty of it and the odd elephant. In the event, they would hardly have had the time to bury them before the Japs overran the site. Our dreams were shattered. The first Spits (Mk VIIIs, I think) got out there late in '43, and did sterling work from then on. We were no part of it.

I think Milo Minderbinder (#25 - p2) may be closest to the truth. Me ? Like the Doubting Thomas: "All this will I believe when I shall See".

Danny 42C

Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Apr 2012 at 15:00.
Old 15th Apr 2012, 20:47
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If it was mark II's that were sent out how would they fair in Burma without the tropical filter that the V's and VIII's had?
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Old 15th Apr 2012, 22:58
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Later in the war, when things were more stable, you are quite correct about the filters. But in the desperate days of '42, we had to use whatever lay to hand, filters or not.


Old 16th Apr 2012, 04:57
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Hundreds of thousands already committed to search

A bit more here:British farmer’s quest to find lost Spitfires in Burma - Telegraph

After spending £130,000 of his own money on research:

"To meet the £500,000 cost of the excavation Mr Cundall enlisted the help of Steve Boultbee Brooks, 51, a commercial property investor who also runs the Boultbee Flight Academy, in Chichester, West Sussex, which teaches people to fly on the two-seater Spitfire that Mr Brooks bought for £1.78 million in 2009.
Ground radar images showed that inside the crates were Spitfires with their wings packed alongside the fuselages.
The Britons now want to work to restore as many of the 20 Spitfires as possible and get them flying. If the project works, it will nearly double the number of airworthy Spitfires. There are currently only about 35 flying in the world.
Mr Cundall said: “We want to dig as many Spitfires up as we find.
“Spitfires are beautiful aeroplanes and should not be rotting away in a foreign land. They saved our neck in the Battle of Britain and they should be preserved.” "
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 17:34
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This sort of thing did happen. I remember uncle Clifford Seed -of the trophy-buying a standing hangar in Yorkshire at the end of the war. He intended to dismantle and move it but found it was full of new crated aircraft engines. When he complained about their prescence he was told that they were part of the sale lot and that he had to find a home for them as well.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 18:07
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Tune into the One Show on BBC1 1900-1930. There is an interview with the person tasked to unearth them.


It was exceptionally short! Steve Boultbee Brooks, of the Boultbee Flight Academy, stated that he has seen the ground scans and that the Spitfires are six metres underground.

Last edited by TEEEJ; 16th Apr 2012 at 18:28.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 18:27
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I don't normally bother with such a rubbish TV programme, but yes, there was about 60s of information on The One Show....

Who is that frankly appalling woman presenter - I could barely understand a word she said. Does the BBC have any people without extreme regional accents these days?
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 18:41
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Think, why did they move "oop north". Alan
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 18:52
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Just saw on local news that they could go to Brough to be refurbed. Wonder how much BAE will charge for that little number?
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 18:54
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"there was about 60s of information "

No, there was about 60 seconds of commnet. There was no information
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 19:04
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I don't know if there are any termites in Burma; but if there are there aren't any crates left. There may be twenty aluminium pancakes, however.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 19:08
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Ah yes, the old "It was the Spitfire wot won it" Makes you wonder we bothered having all those useless Hurricanes ...?
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 19:18
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Ah yes, the old "It was the Spitfire wot won it" Makes you wonder we bothered
having all those useless Hurricanes ...?
The man said it all.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 19:25
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Who is that frankly appalling woman presenter - I could barely understand a word she said. Does the BBC have any people without extreme regional accents these days?
If you're talking about Alex Jones Beags, I don't really think too many chaps care about her regional accent.

Certainly not one of the two best assets she has...if you get me...

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Old 16th Apr 2012, 19:30
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Too right! They had plenty in India (it would have taken them about a month at most to chomp through the packing cases). No reason why there shouldn't be plenty of the little beasts in Burma, just as hungry!

Old 16th Apr 2012, 19:43
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Radio Lincolnshire interviewed a geophysicist from Leeds University about the project earlier today. There is a three-minute extract from that interview at the link below. William Wright, of said station, has posted more (including a link to the full interview, which should be available online later today), on his avian-themed social networking feed (at mrwilliam for those of you who chirp).

Audioboo / 20 spitfires found. Part of @BBCRadioLincs interview
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