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No Spitfires Found At First Dig Site In Burma

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An internationally supported expedition to Burma to dig up Spitfires thought to be buried there after the close of WWII is quickly drawing skepticism as it has so far found none after one week digging at a primary site, Mingaladon airport. The project's mastermind, British farmer David Cundall, believes there's still hope. Cundall had found eyewitness support of his theory that the British military packed more than 120 Spitfires in crates and buried them in the ground before vacating Burma more than 60 years ago. His evidence drew the assistance of David Cameron and cooperation of the Burmese government in arranging permission for a dig. But after one week digging at Mingaladon airport (now Rangoon International Airport), and with one witness, a 91-year-old British veteran, in attendance, archeologists Wednesday suspended the search on lack of evidence. Counterclaims and alternate theories of explanation are beginning to surface, including one from another witness. Cundall expects to continue.

In a letter published on Jan. 9, by TheTimes.co.uk, Lionel Timmins claims to have served with RAF 81 squadron from August 1946 through February 1948, spending time at Mingaladon "for a substantial part of each year." Timmins states he "neither saw anything of the burials nor did I hear any rumors, which I believe there most certainly would have been had the aircraft been buried." Tmmins wrote at the time that the steel interlocking plates of the airport's then runway could account for the search's initial indications of buried metal. The search itself has since turned up cables and pipes, as well as metal plates used in construction of the earlier airport's runway. It had expected to find as many as 36 Spitfires carefully packed in crates for storage and buried in good condition at the location. Some skeptics now believe witnesses may have confused burial of the planes with the disposal of other equipment while Spitfires were assembled or disassembled nearby. Cundall's project had acquired funding from Wargaming.net, an online gaming company, and the project's spokesman, Frazer Nash, has said the team will continue its investigation at two other sites in Burma.

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