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British Spitfire hunter


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Anyone been following this? Courtesy of Washington Post / AP.

Hugh

British Spitfire hunter vows to keep digging in Myanmar despite loss of main sponsor By Associated Press, Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 6:04 AM

YANGON, Myanmar — A British
aviation enthusiast searching for scores of World War II-era Spitfire
fighter planes he believes are buried in Myanmar said Tuesday he will
continue his quest even though his main sponsor has backed out.


David Cundall told reporters that he is confident of enough
funding to continue his search despite the withdrawal of the Belarusian
video gaming company Wargaming.net. The company said last Friday it
believes the planes don’t really exist and descriptions of their burial
by Allied forces as the war drew to a close nearly 70 years ago are a
myth.

Cundall contends that as many as 140 Spitfires may have been
buried in near-pristine condition in Myanmar. No traces of any were
found in digging that began in December, but Cundall said he hopes to
have good news in two weeks when the searchers finish surveying.

He
said they are waiting for a specialized company from Europe to use
ground-penetrating radar that will show the shape and depth of buried
objects.

Cundall said Wargaming “couldn’t wait that long.”

“I’m still confident to find Spitfires,” he said. “I believe in eyewitnesses.”

The
Spitfire helped Britain beat back waves of German bombers during the
war that ended in 1945 and remains the most famous British combat
aircraft. About 20,000 Spitfires were built, although the dawn of the
jet age quickly made the propeller-driven, single-seat planes obsolete.

Wargaming
said in a statement that its team “now believes, based on clear
documentary evidence, as well as the evidence from the fieldwork, that
no Spitfires were delivered in crates and buried” in Myanmar between
1945 and 1946.

It said archival records indicated that the British
unit handling shipments at the time received only 37 aircraft, but
“none of the crates contained Spitfires and most appear to have been
re-exported.”

Moreover, “appalling weather” and shortages of heavy
equipment and manpower would have made it “almost impossible” to bury
the massive crates, the company said.

Cundall accused Wargaming of getting involved in the search “for publicity.”


“They are not Spitfire enthusiasts at all. ... After a few days,
Wargaming said they wanted to go and leave. I’m here to find Spitfires
and we have ample funding without Wargaming,” Cundall said. “There is no
shortage of money.”

Cundall said funding for the search came from
his own resources as well as other financiers. When he first announced
the excavation plans last year, he said his quest to find the planes
involved 12 trips to Myanmar and an expenditure of more than 130,000
pounds ($210,000).

The search kindled some excitement in early
January when an excavation team in northern Myanmar said it found a
wooden crate with unknown contents full of muddy water. It was
eventually found to contain wood paneling and fence posts.

“We
never said it was a Spitfire, we just said it was an object of
interest,” declared Cundall. “This is the nature of the business. We are
looking for something like a needle in the haystack.”

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Re-export would be the most likely scenario. Failing that they would have been burned, following the well-known government rule of "it we can't use it sell it through Crown Assets or destroy it". Whch is why dozen (hundreds?) of Canadian Army cap badges were buried at Petawawa, obsolete Lee-Enfield Mk1 ammunition was dumped into Lake Ontario, etc.

Michael

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