Friday, October 26, 2012
Explorer Discovers 140 Vintage WW II Aircraft Hidden In Burmese Jungle
A British explorer has discovered a long-lost cache of aircraft hidden in the jungles of Myanmar, the country formerly known as Burma. The vintage Supermarine Spitfire airplanes were buried there during World War II and have set undisturbed ever since. The planes, which are said to be in mint condition, are worth approximately $2.5 million each when sold to collectors. Considering the cache contained 140 Spitfires, that works out to be about $350 million.
This story begins more than 25-years ago when David Cundall was told by a group of WWII vets that they had buried a number of unused aircraft in the jungle so that they could be recovered and used in the war effort later. The planes were stored in their original crates with their wings folded back. They are reportedly still wrapped in grease and wax paper, exactly how they were shipped from the factory, and their joints are still tarred to prevent them from deteriorating. The result is an aircraft that looks practically new, despite their age.
When Cundall originally heard the tale, he was under the belief that there were only about 20 of the Spitfires buried at the site. Still, that would make for quite a haul if he could find and recover them. With permission from the Myanmar government, he went in search of the legendary aircraft, spending more than $200,000 of his own money in the process. It took a number of years to discover where they were hidden, but now they have been located and he can start excavating them at last.
Apparently, American soldiers buried the planes in 40-feet of soil and left them for the British RAF to recover when they needed them. But as the war ground to a halt and newer, faster planes came into favor, the Spitfires were forgotten. According to the article linked to above, this isn't the only cache of planes rumored to be out there. Other reports indicate that more than 230 Spitfires were buried in Queensland, Australia, although no one has ever been able to locate them.
It is simply amazing to me that these planes remain in such good shape after being buried in the jungle for more than 65 years. I have a lot of respect for Cundall as well for looking for the aircraft with such persistence over the years. I hope he finds a buyer for each and everyone of these planes, which has a rich history for the role they played in battling the Germans and Japanese during World War II. Amazing story to say the least.