Spitfires! Very cool story.

I saw this at Sancte Pater from the Daily Mail.

One of the coolest airplanes evvvver.

The new Battle of Burma: Find 20 buried Spitfires and make them fly

By Kirsty Walker

(Mail Online) Twenty brand-new RAF Spitfires could soon reach for the sky following a deal reached with Burma yesterday.

Experts believe they have discovered the locations of around 20 of the Second World War fighters buried at airfields around the country.

David Cameron has secured an agreement that they will be returned to Britain

Historians say the Spitfires were shipped out to Burma in the summer of 1945, two weeks before atomic bombs were dropped on Japan which brought the war to a sudden end.

The British campaign to push the Japanese out of Burma was the longest and bloodiest of the war, beginning after the Japanese invaded in late 1941.

Spitfires helped to support the Chindit special forces on the ground – and proved a huge boost to morale. They played a crucial role in defeating the enemy and covering the subsequent Allied advance through Burma, protecting the ground troops and providing vital supplies.

But the Mark II Spitfires in the secret haul never saw action. Earl Mountbatten issued an order for them to be hidden in 1945 to prevent foreign forces from getting their hands on them as the British army demobilised. The aircraft, straight from the production line, were buried in crates at a depth of 4ft to 6ft to preserve them.

Their whereabouts became lost after the RAF struck off their locations from their records.

But aviation enthusiasts, aided by experts from the University of Leeds and a Second World War veteran who witnessed their burial, believe they have now discovered their locations using ground penetrating radar technology.

Downing Street said the Government wants to unearth the aircraft and restore them to their former glory.

The condition of the cargo boxes and aircraft, whose wings and body are buried separately, is unknown. But experts are hopeful that they are well preserved.

A Downing Street source said that Mr Cameron had secured an agreement from the Burmese president to help Britain excavate the aircraft in a joint heritage project.

‘The Spitfire is arguably the most important plane in the history of aviation, playing a crucial role in the Second World War.

‘It is hoped this will be an opportunity to work with the reforming Burmese government to uncover, restore and display these fighter planes and get them gracing the skies of Britain once again,’ they said.

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18 Responses to Spitfires! Very cool story.

  1. medievalist says:

    True…one of the coolest planes ever. But not as good as it’s sister the Hurricane.

  2. pledbet424 says:

    It would be fascinating to unearth the planes. I wouldn’t expect them to be in very good condition though, and they may never be able to fly them.
    I remember the story some years ago about a car encased in concrete for 50 years (the car was right off the dealer lot), and it looked like a bucket of rust when unearthed.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19249855/ns/us_news-life/t/auto-time-capsule-unearthed-after-years/
    I’m looking forward to seeing the planes unearthed, rust or not.

  3. Volanges says:

    The coolest is the Corsair. Love those wings! But wouldn’t it be great to see a squadron of Spitfires flying overhead?!

  4. Theodore says:

    If you are a history buff the best boots on the ground book about this portion of WW II is Quartered Save Out Here by the late great George MacDonald Fraser of Flashman fame.

  5. Maltese says:

    The most important plane of the 2WW, of course, was the B-17.

    My grandfather, one of the youngest pilots to fly a B-17, saw his friend, also a pilot, shot down over Germany (describing that story was the only time I saw him cry.) They sat on their flak jackets on mission, for obvious reasons, and carried cyanied pills in case they were shot down (no pilot in WWII ever used them, to my knowledge).

    “You don’t know the horrible aspects of war. I’ve been through two wars and I know. I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes. I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!” –General William Sherman.

    My grandfather had to fly a B-17 over his ancestral town in Germany as it bombed possible relatives of his.

    On the cool-side, my grandfather was flying Spitfires when he was only 19!

  6. jacobi says:

    There were more Hurricanes in the crucial Battle of Britain than Spitfires. The Spitfire was a splendid fighter in all it developement versions, but, though I find this hard to admit as a Brit, the Mosquito was surely the best fighter of WWII. Mind you, that was a combination of British engine and American airframe.

  7. jilly4ski says:

    Did you know that late in the war (I think after the battle of Britain), some Spitfires were retro-fitted with cameras (striped of all weaponry) and then took photos for British intelligence. The pilots took overlapping pictures allowing for 3D imaging of the photos that allowed the British to bomb some of the dams in Germany, and to bomb the V-1 launch sites, and one of the first V-2 research and development sites. As an American this was a portion of WWII that I had not been introduced to. I guess NOVA, is good for something.

  8. Paulus says:

    The Mosquito? Surely you mean the P-51 Mustang. The Mosquito saw only limited action as a fighter and was thoroughly British. The Mustang was an American airframe with a Rolls Royce power plant.

  9. Scott W. says:

    Ahh the eight-millionth installment of the Which-WWII-Fighter-Was-Awesomest? debate.

    Any love out there for the top allied kill-scorer, the Hellcat? And even though it was in the service of evil, the Me-109 was one sweet bird.

  10. Federico says:

    Scott W. the issue was settled.

    P-51 Mustang is the coolest airplane ever (not just WWII fighter category). It’s official (check out: The AOPA Final Four Airplane Tournament Standings

    Federico

  11. Scott W. says:

    Please. I wouldn’t let the AOPA pick the best balsa wood model plane. :)

  12. ejcmartin says:

    There is a famous local story of one Lal Parsons who stationed at Torbay, Newfoundland flew his Spirfire between the spires of the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Harbour Grace. A painting was done many years later.

    http://www.butlerframing-gallery.com/newfoundlandArtists/IanSparkes/images/TIlIReturn.jpg

  13. Tom Ryan says:

    Theoretically, the elliptical wing should be the most efficient even though it is a nightmare to build. I think the Mustang had 1/3 as many parts. Did anyone catch the Reach for the Sky Reference?

    http://tinyurl.com/wdtprsreachforthesky

  14. Liam says:

    As much as I hate to say because I love the looks, speeds, and manoeuverabilities of the Spitfire and Me-109, the most important fighter aircraft in the Second World War was the Yakovlev Yak-1. It was the most produced fighter of the war and this sheer volume compensated for its high loss number (most often traceable to chronic fuel and oil leaks). In the long Eastern front, this low-altitutde fighter defeated the Luftwaffe in the air and Wehrmacht panzers on the ground.

  15. ContraMundum says:

    @Liam

    “Quantity has a quality all its own.” There’s some truth in that.

    And there’s a real danger that in a society like ours that is uses technology to maintain a strong military comparatively small numbers: wars can start to feel less like national struggles and more like the business of a small mercenary class. This can lead to us not only treating our veterans even worse than we have historically (and that’s pretty danged bad), but also being a little too willing to get involved in a war. Yeah, I think we’ve already taken a few steps in that direction.

  16. Paul M says:

    Look forward to following this story. Was able to see & touch my first Spitfire over the last week at the San Diego Air & Space Museum with my wife and 3 boys. Actually a lot of “firsts” as they have amazing exhibits covering the history of flight. Mounted in front of the entrance is an SR-71 and the first thing you see when you walk in is the Apollo 9 command module!
    Just another great reason to visit SD: http://www.sandiegoairandspace.org/

  17. Serviam1 says:

    This reminds me of the squadron of ‘factory fresh’ USAAF P-38s that were force landed in Greenland in 1942 during a ferry move to the UK, as part of the Allied build up. The crew was fortunately recovered; however, the aircraft remained – for fifty years. In 1992, one of the P-38s was recovered for restoration, under 250′ of ice and snow accumulated over 50 years. The recovery and eventual restoration of ‘Glacier Girl’, as she is now called is an equally amazing story. Here are a couple of interesting links:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1I9C5lYaRs
    http://b-29s-over-korea.com/lost_squadron/lost_squadron.html

  18. Friends of Mr. Cairo says:

    A wonderful film to see about the Spitfire is the 1942 movie “The First of the Few” starring Leslie Howard and David Niven. Howard plays R. J. Mitchell, the designer of the Spitfire. This film was Leslie Howard’s last appearance before the camera. He died in June of 1943, when the KLM plane he was in was shot down by German fighters over the Bay of Biscay.
    The film has been digitally re-mastered and fully re-stored. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0034734/