Australians Hope To Find Hidden Spitfires


For 13 years, a team of warbird enthusiasts in Melbourne, Australia, has been trying to learn the fate of dozens of Spitfires abandoned at a military airfield after World War II — according to local legend, some of the airplanes may have been buried in fields or hidden in mineshafts to save them from being scrapped. The group is now trying to raise money to continue their research and complete a film about the effort — and perhaps, find a Spitfire. Any aircraft they find would be donated to a museum, according to James Carter, a researcher on the team. The Australian effort has no apparent link to a British attempt to exhume buried Spitfires in Burma, which ended empty-handed early this year.

In a fundraising video posted online, Carter says more than 500 airplanes, including Spitfires and others, were gathered at an airfield in Queensland after the war, where they were destroyed. Rumors have long lingered that some of the airplanes were hidden away, but none have ever been found. Carter says there’s a chance that no such airplanes exist, but “with all the evidence, all the research, all the stories … we believe there’s a damn good chance of finding at least one aircraft.” Pledges will help to pay for ground-penetrating radar to aid the search, as well as the filmmaking to document it. “If we don’t find a Spitfire … we’ll still have a fantastic story. It will be fun, it will be an adventure … it’s rewarding in itself,” says Carter.