One British Farmer Found 20 Spitfires Still Buried In Their Shipping Containers From 1945

SpitfireSpitfire XIVe NH749

Photo: Wikipedia Commons

When David Cundall was 47, a friend passed along a comment he heard from a group of U.S. veterans who said they buried a fleet of World War II Spitfires deep in the Burmese jungle to hide them from Japanese troops.Adam Lusher at The Telegraph spoke to Cundall, now 62, and not only has the British farmer been searching Burma (Myanmar) for the past 15 years, going there a dozen times, and running his savings down by more than $200,000, he says he has actually found the planes.

Somewhere in the jungle, still crated, with their wings folded back along their bodies, covered in grease and wax paper, sit 20 brand new Spitfires buried in their original shipping crates — and Cundall knows right where they are.

The Americans buried the planes, covered them with 40 feet of soil and assumed the British would be back later to dig them up and wipe them off, but the RAF never bothered.

At the close of World War II, Spitfires fell out of favour as newer, faster jets were rolled off the production line.

To get rid of the “surplus war machinery” many carrier crews were ordered to push the old planes off the deck and into the sea or send them to the scrap metal yard.

This wholesale scrapping of such a romanticized fighter had a few interesting results: It has prompted a lot of conspiracy theories, reduced the number of Spitfires flying today to a lucrative 35, and prompted searches for buried planes throughout the Pacific.

A rumoured stash in Queensland, Australia is supposed to hold up to 232 Spitfires, but despite perennial searching, none have yet been found.

Which is why Cundall’s find is kind of a big deal in these circles. If the Spitfires are in Burma, they could be everywhere else they’re rumoured to be.

And the payoff to find them is great. Cundall’s partner bought a refinished Spitfire for 1.78 million pounds in 2009, an amount that is very close to $3 million dollars today.

And the news is rippling outside aviation circles and finding a warm welcome with auto collectors who feared all the good “barn cars” had been found.

Jonathan Welsh at the WSJ’s Driver’s Seat points to Cundall’s find and tells his readers to take heart, “that research, legwork, and persistence can still pay off.”


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