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Spitfires found in Burma

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Spitfires found in Burma

Old 16th Apr 2012, 19:58
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Because, jindabyne, on a peak-time TV programme, one has every right to expect presenters who can communicate properly. Regrettably, I found the few words uttered by that woman to be virtually incomprehensible. Who is she?

Anyway, let's hope that the Spitfires are indeed in a well-preserved state.
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 05:12
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Hurricanes were involved in the Battle of Britain? What film did you watch?
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 06:11
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I think Lightning Mate may have had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he responded. Perhaps he should have used this icon
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 08:31
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500000 pounds "excavation costs"?!

I live in SE Asia, 100 pounds for the digging, 499900 for lubricating the system me thinks...
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 08:52
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Well it's a nice idea but a big hole is not the best means of disabling an aeroplane.

If they do exist methinks they will be in a similar shape to the 1957 Plymouth in its nuclear bomb proof shelter in Oklahoma City.

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Old 17th Apr 2012, 11:01
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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.
"So I've heard". "rumoured".


The odd thing is that almost every airfield I've worked at has some "rumour" of piles of buried aircraft/engines/jeeps etc but its even more odd that no one's ever found any of them, anywhere. As this bizarre and labour intensive activity was so "common" there should be hundreds of vets who would remember doing this, yet there are none, scores of photos and other records (because the military are scrupulous record-keepers), yet there are none, and piles of geological evidence all over the world. All of which are unaccountably absent.

The statement that these things are buried 6m deep is the clincher. I simply don't believe it. ANo one - but no one, buries anything except nucler wasye that deep. It is a massive operation. If you want to get rid of or hide something you scrape as shallow as you can get away with, a 6m hole is a major engineering exercise requiring months of labour or weeks with several bulldozers , and one that deep to take 20 crated aircraft would be hald the size of a football pitch. 6m of soil would crush wooden crates flat instantly. I doubt an ISO box would survive that for 60 years. Engines might survive, airframes never.

Now, does anyone have ;

a) Pictures of Spitfires or similar a/c crated with wings packed next to the fuselage in theatre as opposed to on docks or ships? Did that ever happen? Surely the crates would be stripped off at the docks and the load broken down into smaller pieces to ease transport, taken to the nearest airfield and assembled there for delivery in the conventional manner. Were crated aircraft ever delivered to airfields? Any info about crated aircraft in fact. It would be good to know just how common crated transport was.
b) Dimensions and weight of said crated aircraft.
c) Were armament, engines & props included in crated aircraft or boxed seperately? That's going to mak one heck of a heavy crate if its all together.
d) How far from the coast (ie docks) is this burial site?

Wiki says of ground penetrating radar;
Good penetration is also achieved in dry sandy soils or massive dry materials such as granite, limestone, and concrete where the depth of penetration could be up to 15 m. In moist and/or clay-laden soils and soils with high electrical conductivity, penetration is sometimes only a few centimetres.
They certainly didn't dig 6m into granite ot limestone, and dry sandy soil doesn't sound like soggy monsoon ridden Burma.

And finally, why go to such massive effort when a platoon of erks with a few cans of gas could do the same job before tea-break. It just doesn't add up, or even start to.
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 13:55
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Pictures of spitfires in crates here

Collections Search for "somerset light infantry gibraltar" | Imperial War Museums

This one allegedly in Burma, third pic.

British farmer’s quest to find lost Spitfires in Burma - Telegraph

Last edited by Karl Bamforth; 17th Apr 2012 at 14:12.
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 23:05
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A bisporus makes a good point:why go to the trouble of digging twenty big holes (or one huge one) when an axe and some avgas would do the job without effort?And I agree there is a lot of photographic evidence of the latter method of disposing of planes, there are none of them being buried.
However, these planes were not being disposed of in a hurry because an airfield was being over-run or left behind.So there was plenty of time.There was plenty of labour (personnel and foreign labourers would be available).The planes were new and expensive:£12,604 each,plus (Estonian order for 12 Spitfires in 1939, according to wiki) which would be about £3 million each today.
There may well have been the hope they could be recovered, so it may have been seen as worthwhile burying them, in these particular circumstances.
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Old 18th Apr 2012, 00:54
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This whole thing has a whiff about it. 15 years of searching, and not a single image to back up any claim ... sounds as though it will not be long before some sort of "investment fund" will be opening shortly.

Breath, do not hold.
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 11:58
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I used to have the occasional loan (and to take the elderly owner down the pub) of a '30s 3 litre Lagonda (upgraded to 4.5L spec).

It had an interesting history. It was shipped to the Far East as new as a saloon. When the Japanese started invading the owner was told by the military to lose it, and given a large tub of grease. He liberally coated everything, dug a hole in his garden and buried it.

After the war he went back and dug it up, to discover that termites had eaten everything edible (it would have been an ash-framed body) but that the mechanicals had been preserved in perfect condition. He had a photo of a Le Mans team car, so he went to a local boatbuilder and asked him to make him a similar style body.

It was later shipped back to the UK where my mate installed the bigger engine and went racing. It might not have lasted 70 years, but it definately lasted the duration of the war and a couple of years more. Eventually it got sold on - I haven't seen it for years but the new owner was muttering about throwing the body away and putting a "correct" body on it. I hope he didn't - the body wasn't quite right in every respect, but it was part of the history of the car and made it unique. At the time I wasn't sufficiently interested, but with hindsight I wish I'd bought it.
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 12:50
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There is no way the Japs were doing anything but retreating in Aug 45. They were all but thrown back to the home islands by then and the first A bomb dropped on the 6th (?). The was all but over bar the subjugation of the Japanese islands themselves.

You only bury stuff carefully if you want to recover it later or it is of a nature that cannot be destroyed by any other means (ie fire or demolition charges). Since it is clear that there were simple means to destroy them it must be assumed that any burial was intended to hide them temporarily. If, as suggested above, we didn't want to make a gift of them to the Burmese why bury them for recovery? Recovery by whom? Not us if we were planning to leave in a hurry and not return. No point leavng them intact for the Burmese to recover if we intended to deny them the assets.

This line of "reasoning" simply does not hold water, it is completely irrational.

We probably were planning to leave Burma by then and would have been disposing of the vast quantities of stores that we didn't want to/couldn't take home as quickly and easily as possible. Farting about digging vast holes just wouldn't have been feasible time or effort wise. We weren't planning to come back so recovery simply wasn't part of the plan. If we wished to save the aircraft we'd have put them back on the trransport that had got them there in the first place, assembled them and flown them out or burned them in situ. Burial would simply not have been an option.

If anyone thinks otherwise please suggest a scenario where burial would have been considered, and while you're at it, list all the other scores/hundreds of sites there must have been elsewhere in the world where such massive scale burials of pristine equipment have occurred, because they must have been documented (they can't all have been un-documented can they?) and also list all the ones that have subsequently been dug up again, because they can't all have been left unmoleseted, such is the interest in finding WW2 artifacts these days.

The absence of evidence following both those requests will tell it's own story in illustrating the unfeasibility of this particular scenario and why it surely falls into the category of pure myth, just like all the hundreds of other mythical "burials", none of which have ever been found.

Its a fairytale.
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 16:14
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BBC iPlayer - William Wright: 16/04/2012

Good interview with the geophysicist at around 1:40. The people 'in the know' all seem to be exuding optimism about the aircraft - it's just the armchair cynics on PPRuNe who are predicting some rotted timbers and stained earth!

As to the depth - he says that they were put in a river gulley then covered over. This seems to make sense, as 6m is a deep hole to bother digging...

In an organisation with a many-tiered command structure and a potentially massive surplus of labour at the end of it, it is inevitable that odd things happen. Anyone who has been in the military will know this!

I find it bizarre that so many people are surprised that the military of 70 years ago seems to have disposed of these aircraft so incompetently. Only last year, the nine most capable maritime reconnaissance aircraft in the world were torn up by the MOD. Why should decisions about aircraft procurement and disposal have been made with any more logic in wartime?

I'm as big a cynic as any, but in this case, as a Spitfire fanatic, I am permitting myself some modest optimism! By all accounts, we will know soon enough anyway!
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 17:42
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The absence of evidence ................... will tell its own story
Or, just possibly, the presence of evidence will tell a more cheerful one
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 17:46
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I just hope that "All will turn out for the best" with this story, tho I can understand the sceptics.
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 20:48
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he says that they were put in a river gulley then covered over
Ah, good, that confirms it then. The water flowing through the gully during the rainy season would have washed the aircraft shiny clean. Probably they only need a little 100/110 in the tanks and air in the tires, then off we go!
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Old 19th Apr 2012, 23:04
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Last edited by Noyade; 20th Apr 2012 at 01:01. Reason: Forgot to add a Dinosaur skeleton - smiley
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 12:37
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S'funny but there are very detailed records of every Spitfire ever built, and their service histories - including their ultimate disposal. We even know the names of the ships that transported them to ACSEA. These records show lots of Spitfires being turned over to both the Indian and Burmese air forces in 1947 upon indpendence. Many others are shown as being returned to UK.

So, why would we bury any of them? Its just another silly rumour. The Royal Air Force destroys aircraft when its afraid of them falling into hostile hands and sells them to scrap merchants when it isn't. It doesn't waste time burying them in unmarked and unrecorded graves.
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 14:30
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Buried Spitfires


Spot on !

In my #66 - p.4, I reckoned that 1945/Mk XIVs was a non-starter. As you say, Why ? And my 1942/Mk IIs idea was probably wishful thinking, anyway.

Either way, the white ants have had any crates there might have been long ago. It's a mare's nest !

Old 20th Apr 2012, 18:01
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A quote from an authoritative reference book on Myanmar/Burma:
Burma held the world’s most extensive teak reserves (much in demand for building because it was impervious to termites).

and another from the (sometimes reliable) Wikipedia:-
Teak is used extensively in India to make doors and window frames, furniture, and columns and beams in old type houses. It is very resistant to termite attacks

If Spitfires were to be buried, for whatever reason, using teak crates may just have been a very good decision and preserved them in better shape than has been suggested. At least we can hope that this whole story will not remain a mystery forever; Spitfires either will or will not be found. Unless given really good odds I wouldn’t bet on either result, but wouldn’t it be good news if…………………….
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Old 20th Apr 2012, 18:45
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I would have thought that their crates, if any, would have been the ones they were fitted into when they left the UK. Aircaft crates; I have seen aircraft pulled out of them, have trestles for the fuselage and racks for the wings that are designed to stop it from being damaged. They would also have been made out of softwood and the termites would have had them by now.
Think Terracotta Warriors.
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