In August 1945, a dozen Spitfires were shipped from England to Burma. Another eight were mailed in December. However, they were considered excessive and soldiers were ordered to bury the boxes before they’d even been unpacked. What happened to the Lost Spitfire Squadron?
The Lost Spitfire Squadron?
After fifteen years and over $200,000, British farmer David Cundall recently announced the discovery of the forgotten Spitfires. He was inspired to search for them by a comment made by a U.S. veteran to his friend Jim Pearce.
According to Cundall, the Spitfires were buried under forty feet of soil in their original crates. The individual parts were waxed and wrapped in greased paper. The wings were folded back against the bodies. The joints were tarred. These efforts, designed to protect the planes during the shipping process, may have helped to preserve them as well.
Why were the Spitfires Abandoned in Burma?
The Americans expected the British to return to the burial site and dig them up. But this never happened, partly due to the increased production of newer, faster jets.
‘‘In 1945, Spitfires were 10 a penny. Jets were coming into service. Spitfires were struck off charge, unwanted. Lots of Spitfires were just pushed off the back of aircraft carriers into the sea. On land, you couldn’t leave them for the locals – they might have ended up being used against you.” ~ David Cundall
Guerrilla Explorer’s Analysis
Prior to Cundall’s discovery, there were only 35 Spitfires in existence. Strong demand and high prices (a refinished Spitfire sold for ~$3 million in 2009), have led aviation enthusiasts to search the globe for rumored caches of buried planes. So, where are Cundall’s new Spitfires? For the moment, they’re still underground, deep in the jungle.
“We sent a borehole down and used a camera to look at the crates. They seemed to be in good condition.” ~ David Cundall
They are likely to remain that way for at least a little while. International sanctions make it illegal for Burma to ship military materials in or out of the country. However, British Prime Minister David Cameron recently visited Burma, attempting to strike a deal to lift the sanctions as well as permit Cundall to excavate the site. With any luck, these Spitfires may eventually see the light of day and after more than six decades, finally reach the skies.