Wednesday, April 18, 2012

British man recovers buried Spitfires in Burma

Wednesday, 18 April 2012 13:02 Mizzima News

(Mizzima) – Burma has agreed to return to Britain 20 British Spitfire fighter planes secretly buried in the country during World War II to prevent them from being seized by Japanese troops.

British Prime Minister David Cameron asked for Burma’s cooperation when he met with President Thein Sein last week, according to Myanmar Newsweek.

The British Spitfire fighter plane was known for its speed and agility in the air. Photo: Wikipedia

A team from Leeds University and their Burmese counterparts will undertake the recovery effort.

The discovery of the legendary aircraft was the work of David Cundall, 62, of Lincolnshire, who spent a decade tracing down the location of the buried World War II fighter planes, which are believed to be in pristine condition.

He said the planes – never flown – were buried in their transport crates near the end of World War II to prevent them from falling into the hands of the enemy, according to The Telegraph newspaper.

After many trips to Burma, he located the stash and said he has seen the crates, which appeared to be in good condition, via a remote controlled camera that was dropped into a borehole.

Cundall, who spent a decade tracing down the planes, was able to locate them through the help of U.S. veterans who said they were involved in the planes’ fate. He hopes to rescue the planes and return them to flying, as important symbols of the defence of Britain during World War II.

“Spitfires are beautiful airplanes and should not be rotting away in a foreign land. They saved our neck in the Battle of Britain and they should be preserved,” he told the newspaper.

Cundall is working with a team that wants to restore as many of the 20 Spitfires as possible. If the project works, it will nearly double the number of airworthy Spitfires, which now number only 35 flying in the world, the newspaper said.

A team member said: “Our hope is that we can be digging them out in the next three or four weeks. Then the plan is to get as many of them flying as possible.”

Cundall said there could be more Spitfires buried in Burma.

“I have heard about 36 in one burial; 18 in another; 6 in another. And when they were buried, they would have been brand new, never taken out of the box.”

The Spitfire was a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was used by the Royal Air Force and many other Allied countries throughout the Second World War. It was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft and was the only British fighter in production throughout the war.

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