Wargaming.net Reveals What Became Of Burma Spitfires

Wargaming.net Reveals What Became Of Burma Spitfires

Did the Royal Air Force have the means and the motive to get the job done?

When David Cundall claimed to have found a hidden cache of buried World War Two era warbirds - including the fabled Spitfire Mk XIV - in Burma, Wargaming.net was eager to fund the recovery effort. The MMO company, best known for World of Tanks, hoped for a great discovery, but as for what it found out there, well ... have a look at this video reveal, hosted at the Royal Air Force Museum. Did the RAF have the means and motive to bury all those planes?

This is the 20 minute version of the lecture; if you want to have a look at the whole thing - all 1 hour 36 minutes of it - that's over here, and a fascinating story it is. "We understand that many people believed or continue to believe passionately in the story of the buried Spitfires," says Wargaming.net, which is why it agreed to release the full video presentation. Wargaming.net is confident that its team has solved the mystery, beyond a reasonable doubt, as to what happened to those warbirds all those years ago.

Only 35 Spitfires survive today in flying condition, out of the many thousands that were built. Hence the allure of a 'find' like Cundall's, but - as the lecture demonstrates - there's more to archaeology than finding buried treasures.

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Thanks for linking to this! It is, as you say, a fascinating story. It's nice to think that there is a hoard of pristine Spitfires out there just waiting to be discovered, but it all starts to come apart when you ask why someone would go to all that trouble. Maybe there's a movie in there somewhere.

OK, I am not familiar with British History. Why is this important? Why are Spitfires so rare? What is the story of the "buried Spitfires"?

Gilhelmi:
Why are Spitfires so rare?

As with most equipment, they where most likely scraped as rotor based aircraft where being phased out by jets. Thats the reason Americans scraped the "Flying Pancake". Those dummies.

Gilhelmi:
OK, I am not familiar with British History. Why is this important? Why are Spitfires so rare? What is the story of the "buried Spitfires"?

The Spitfires were the most famous British World War 2 fighter plane. They were the arguably the best plane in the RAF at the time and were credited with winning the Battle of Britian (although truthfully there were other planes that were used more extensively, but they definitely helped)

The Battle of Britain was a war between Britain and Germany for control of the airspace over the English Channel between Britain and France. Whoever controlled the air controlled the sea, and whoever controlled the sea could launch an invasion army at the other first. (Both Britain and Germany had plans to invade each other, it was only the contention of the English Channel that stopped them acting.) When the Allies won the Battle of Britain they won the Channel, and that led directly to D-Day.

The story of the Buried Spitfires was that the British army in Burma had a pile of Spitfires sent over to help the war effort, they arrived in several bits in shipping crates like Ikea furniture, but before the British troops could build and use them they had to retreat, so they buried the pristine condition Spitfire crates in an unmarked area of the jungle so the enemy wouldn't get them. That was the rumour anyway.

I was really hoping we'd get a huge stash of Spitfires, all the military magazines over here were following these guys progress for months, it's a real shame it didn't pan out.

Gilhelmi:
OK, I am not familiar with British History. Why is this important? Why are Spitfires so rare? What is the story of the "buried Spitfires"?

The Spitfire is as others have said one of the most iconic fighters made. Not only was it a beautiful aircraft, it was also as a short range fighter an amazing piece of kit. It wasn't without it's flaws, it lacked the range to make an effective escort fighter for strategic raids, and the carrier varient the seafire while not a bad aircraft wasnt even with it adaptations as sucessful as the heavier american aircraft (range was also something of an issue). In part it was such a beautiful aircraft as it was based in a large part of a racing single seat seaplane (odd that it made a poor carrier aircraft). It shares one of those slots in a nations history reserved for icons such as the Colt Peacemaker.

The Battle of Britain is the main reason for it's fame, but a controverial one as many are of the view that the Hurricane had greater impact. Certainly there were more Hurricanes deployed (though the reason was not a lack of Spitfires, the supply was suffient to keep many more in the air) but even in the Battle of Britain they were often deployed in subtly different ways where possible. Where both were avaliable the Spitfires would generally be tasked with tying up the escort fighters (as it was a superior dogfighter) while the Hurricane took on the bombers (this may well be among the reasons the hurricane was more widly used at the time). A combination of its looks and it's more glamerous role of taking on the enemy fighter made it the more popular aircraft amongst the public.

The Spitfire went on through many variations as a fighter aircraft (with the V and IX being the most common and sucessful), the Hurricane went onto more of a ground attack and nightfighter role.

The Spitfire had the Rolls-Royce Merlin engine (which sounds fantastic) which was also made on license in America for the P-51D, transforming the high altitude performance of the Mustang from its earlier varients, ironically making the Mustang into one of the Spitfires rivals for best Allied single engine fighters of the war.

On a side note on the engine, in some war movies shot post war the German aircraft were often Spanish civil war models, or otherwise salvaged and often had to be rengined with merlins and not always was it possible to dub the correct sounds over.

Hero in a half shell:

Gilhelmi:
OK, I am not familiar with British History. Why is this important? Why are Spitfires so rare? What is the story of the "buried Spitfires"?

The Spitfires were the most famous British World War 2 fighter plane. They were the arguably the best plane in the RAF at the time and were credited with winning the Battle of Britian (although truthfully there were other planes that were used more extensively, but they definitely helped)

The Battle of Britain was a war between Britain and Germany for control of the airspace over the English Channel between Britain and France. Whoever controlled the air controlled the sea, and whoever controlled the sea could launch an invasion army at the other first. (Both Britain and Germany had plans to invade each other, it was only the contention of the English Channel that stopped them acting.) When the Allies won the Battle of Britain they won the Channel, and that led directly to D-Day.

The story of the Buried Spitfires was that the British army in Burma had a pile of Spitfires sent over to help the war effort, they arrived in several bits in shipping crates like Ikea furniture, but before the British troops could build and use them they had to retreat, so they buried the pristine condition Spitfire crates in an unmarked area of the jungle so the enemy wouldn't get them. That was the rumour anyway.

I was really hoping we'd get a huge stash of Spitfires, all the military magazines over here were following these guys progress for months, it's a real shame it didn't pan out.

Nice, I should probably get my subscriptions back up for those magazines again. I knew of the Battle of Britain, mainly because a resident at a nursing home I use to work at, witnessed some of the Battle and even remembers the first blitz on London and listened to the famous "King's Speech".

She meet her husband, who was an American Soldier, before he when to Europe and married him after the war and moved to the area.

Oh, but to have found Pristine condition Spitfires would be any good historians dream.

 

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