Friday, 4 January 2013

Burma Spitfires: Team To Start Dig For Lost Planes

By Tom Parmenter, Sky News Correspondent

Experts hope to dig up a hoard of planes from a jungle in Burma and restore them so they can fly at UK airshows.

A British team is preparing to fly out to Burma in an attempt to recover a hoard of "lost" WW2 Spitfire planes.

Aviation archaeologists believe up to 20 of the famous aircraft were buried in 1945 and have not been disturbed since.

Lincolnshire farmer David Cundall has spent over 15 years trying to pinpoint their location and then organise everything needed for a careful archaeological dig.

Mr Cundall told Sky News that he believed the planes were buried in the Burmese jungle at the end of the war.

He said: "We have eyewitnesses who actually saw them being buried. The war was over so somebody gave the order to dig a big hole and bury them."

Mr Cundall said the planes were buried "at depth" and so would not be corroded by oxygen.

"I'm totally convinced that they will be restorable. We want to restore them to flying condition so we can see them flying at air shows in three years time."

The Spitfires were flown out to the Far East to support the Burma campaign towards the end of the war but were never actually used in conflict.

The team believe they are buried 10 metres underground on the site of Rangoon International Airport

On a visit to the country last year Prime Minister David Cameron signed an agreement with Burmese authorities to co-operate on the project.

The excavation is due to start next week.

Project Archaeologist Andy Brockman said: "This a rigorous, evidence-driven archaeological process - we are solving the mystery of what happened. It is a fascinating mystery."

The team will make an announcement about their findings later in January.

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