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No Spitfires In Burma After All 102

Posted by Soulskill
from the we're-sorry-but-your-princess-is-in-another-castle dept.
FBeans writes "In a story at the end of last year, it was reported that up to 124 lost WWII Spitfires could be buried in Burma at various locations. A team sponsored by Wargaming.net and led by David Cundall, who says he witnessed one such burial of planes, have been investigating a site that was thought to have up to 36 planes buried in crates near the end of the war. However, based on the evidence they have obtained recently, it seems there are no Spitfires buried at this location, and no substantial evidence supporting any other location, possibly leading to the end of the hunt. Over 20,000 Spitfires were made between 1938 and 1948, at a cost of around £12,000 each. Cundall has spent 17 years of his life and around $200,000 hunting the Supermarine planes; presumably, the lack of evidence will not stop him from continuing to search."
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No Spitfires In Burma After All

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  • Plan B (Score:4, Funny)

    by swanzilla (1458281) on Friday January 18, 2013 @11:45AM (#42626301) Homepage
    Check Myanmar.
  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday January 18, 2013 @11:49AM (#42626351)

    All gone missing. There's something funny goin' on 'round here.

    • Did you check your pocket?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by cellocgw (617879)

        All gone missing. There's something funny goin' on 'round here.

        Did you check your pocket?

        Nope, nothing there but this funky gold ring. How about a riddle game?

        • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          All gone missing. There's something funny goin' on 'round here.

          Did you check your pocket?

          Nope, nothing there but this funky gold ring. How about a riddle game?

          Mod parent up, it's precious.

      • by JeanCroix (99825)
        Well, I don't have anything in there except - HEY waitaminute! Nice try, Gollum...
    • All gone missing. There's something funny goin' on 'round here.

      Next it'll be all the Dolphins [wikipedia.org], and it won't be so funny then.

      • by H0p313ss (811249)

        All gone missing. There's something funny goin' on 'round here.

        Next it'll be all the Dolphins [wikipedia.org], and it won't be so funny then.

        It's those fucking white mice again.

    • by ae1294 (1547521)

      People from the future are scraping the present.. Same thing that happens to socks and keys, just different groups of meth heaads using cheap one off time machines....

      Don't ask how I know this.. It will implode the universe...

    • I seem to remember reading that Atlantis was actually Sweden.
      So Atlantis never disappeared. It was simply _sweded_.

  • by coldsalmon (946941) on Friday January 18, 2013 @11:50AM (#42626363)

    Thanks to the excellent graphic at the end of the article, I now know that the Spitfire's "performance" was located under the fuselage, and its "aerodynamics" were located in the tail section. Thank you, BBC.

    • by synapse7 (1075571)
      May be poorly placed, but they are informative tooltips.
      • by jeremyp (130771)

        No, not really.

        For instance, under performance, the Spitfire mark 1 couldn't climb any faster or turn any faster than contemporary Hurricanes. It was much faster, but the tooltip doesn't mention speed.

        The elliptical wing does not reduce drag as stated in the tool tip. What reduces drag is the fact that it was very thin. The elliptical wing was a compromise to allow it to be very thin and still have room for the undercarriage, guns, ammunition and cooling equipment.

        The twisting of the wing (called washout

        • by jeremyp (130771)

          No, not really.

          For instance, under performance, the Spitfire mark 1 couldn't climb any faster or turn any faster than contemporary Hurricanes. It was much faster in a straight line, but the tooltip doesn't mention speed.

          The elliptical wing does not reduce drag as stated in the tool tip. What reduces drag is the fact that it was very thin. The elliptical wing was a compromise to allow it to be very thin and still have room for the undercarriage, guns, ammunition and cooling equipment.

          FTFM

    • by swm (171547) * <swmcd@world.std.com> on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:29PM (#42626693) Homepage

      I don't know about the aerodynamics, but the performance part is correct.
      That little scoop below the engine is the intake for air to cool the engine.
      The design of that scoop could affect overall performance by something like ~1%.
      Sounds small, but when everyone is using the same underlying technology,
      and encounters typically have binary outcomes (you die or he dies),
      1% can make the difference.

      • by slimdave (710334)

        The design of that scoop could affect overall performance by something like ~1%.

        They could squeeze another couple of percent out with a coffee can exhaust, easy.

    • by mk1004 (2488060)
      The model in the picture doesn't even have the classic Spitfire elliptical wing. It's one of the later models with clipped wingtips. Wikipedia has a better image: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supermarine_Spitfire [wikipedia.org]
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I now know that the Spitfire's "performance" was located under the fuselage, and its "aerodynamics" were located in the tail section.

      Which funnily enough is about right. The aircraft was a hack, a case of fix-what-we-have. The development history of the Spitfire is one of constant attempts to keep-up with the state-of-the-art as set by Germany and, to a lesser degree, the USA.

      Constantly out-performed, out-manoeuvred and over-rated; the only reason the RAF continued to fly Spitfires is that there weren't enough Lend-Lease aircraft from the USA to meet demand. P-51s and P-47s couldn't come quick enough for European theatre and the P-40

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think the main reason they flew Spitfires was that stuff like the P51 didn't actually exist until 4 years after the Spitfire first flew.

        For example, a major reason why they didn't use P-51s during the Battle of Britain was that they hadn't been invented yet

        • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @04:39PM (#42629473)

          Lets address some slanted facts such as WWII did not occur until USA's involvement at which point american made was the best and won everything.

            The spitfire was a fine aircraft, one of its flaws was infact its engine. German and US engine developments seemed to always be ahead of the english. German fuel injection for example mean an aircraft could roll or perform manourvers with out cutting out. One of the dreams of pilots was to put a 109 engine into a spitfire as you would have the agility and the power..(you couldn't of course, but that was the dream).

            By the time the US started really handing out P-51's they were screaming hotrods. Learning from all the lessons from Uk and german developments the last ones were well sorted aircraft. But this was at the end of the war.

          There are no doubt lots of aircraft hidden from WWII.. Countries stashed them, people bought them and stashed them. Amazing aircraft. If you ever get a chance to talk to a WWII fight pilot who flew them. Do it. I was lucky enough to have a Spirefire test pilot come my school and talk about them.. For a whole day. It had its shortcommings, but also had its advantages.

            Arguably its the prettiest aircraft of WWII

          • by harald (29216)

            You don't really know the history behind the P-51, do You? It first came out with a license-manufactured Allison british-designed engine. Only when the british Rolls-Royce Merlin was implanted into the P-51 it started to excel.

            It is true that a german aircraft could dive straight away, whereas the Merlin-engined had to do a half-roll first in order not to empty the carburettor of fuel.

            The great thing about the P-51 was it's critical wing profile, that caused much less drag. This allowed the aircraft to have

      • by 21mhz (443080) on Friday January 18, 2013 @02:43PM (#42628261) Journal

        Which funnily enough is about right. The aircraft was a hack, a case of fix-what-we-have. The development history of the Spitfire is one of constant attempts to keep-up with the state-of-the-art as set by Germany and, to a lesser degree, the USA.

        That's true of all designs that had been around when the war started. Messerschmitt Bf 109 was progressively souped up to the flaming hot rods that the G models were.

        Constantly out-performed, out-manoeuvred and over-rated; the only reason the RAF continued to fly Spitfires is that there weren't enough Lend-Lease aircraft from the USA to meet demand.

        Interestingly, the P-51 was designed to the British order, and first shipped to RAF. They found the early variants lacking, or at least not providing enough added value above Spitfires.

      • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Friday January 18, 2013 @03:05PM (#42628525)

        I now know that the Spitfire's "performance" was located under the fuselage, and its "aerodynamics" were located in the tail section.

        Which funnily enough is about right. The aircraft was a hack, a case of fix-what-we-have. The development history of the Spitfire is one of constant attempts to keep-up with the state-of-the-art as set by Germany and, to a lesser degree, the USA.

        Constantly out-performed, out-manoeuvred and over-rated; the only reason the RAF continued to fly Spitfires is that there weren't enough Lend-Lease aircraft from the USA to meet demand. P-51s and P-47s couldn't come quick enough for European theatre and the P-40s held the line in North Africa.

        There are plenty of airworthy Spitfires for anyone who feels dewy-eyed about them. What we really need to find is a cache of buried Beaufighters or Battles. Now THAT would really add to the historical record.

        You overstate your case. The Spitfire had a higher power to mass ratio than any of its competitors and had a much better rate of turn than, for instance, the P-51. It had many shortcomings and many advantages compared to P-51s and P47s. Overall the range and cruise speed certainly made a P-51 a more valuable aircraft for flying the kind of missions most common late in the war, but Spitfires were pretty well suited for the Blitz.

    • Thanks to the excellent graphic at the end of the article, I now know that the Spitfire's "performance" was located under the fuselage, and its "aerodynamics" were located in the tail section.

      Just like everybody else's. Of course, many an aviatrix [wallmay.net] also knew about the importance of "aerodynamics" located in the forward fuselage.

  • i heard there was a war there too at about the same time

    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:04PM (#42626479) Homepage Journal

      That was clearly a cover up for the secret alien invasion.

    • by perpenso (1613749)

      i heard there was a war there too at about the same time

      Spitfires were not shipped to Germany in creates and buried when the war ended rather than shipped back to the UK.

      • by perpenso (1613749)
        err ... crates.
      • by PPH (736903)

        Spitfires were never crated and shipped to Germany. Its too easy to fly them over. And fly them back, when they are finished with their mission. Burma was different. The logistics to return the crates to a port, locate an available ship, load them and haul them back wasn't worth the effort. So it was either abandon them (leaving them to fall into the hands of some unknown military) or disable them.

        I'm actually surprised that they would have buried them to keep them from falling into 'enemy' hands. Digging

        • by Shotgun (30919)

          Big holes were easy. They had bulldozers.

          The idea was that they were just going to be hidden for a while, until someone requisitioned the resources to get them back. But then the jet age began, and no one really cared about some buried remnants of last years war. They are only interesting now for the nostalgia factor.

          • by yurtinus (1590157)
            ...That and Spitfires are worth a lot of money these days (and they are screamin' fast at air races)
        • If you blew them up, you couldn't recover them if the fortunes of war allowed you to reclaim that territory. Weapons, ammo, and equipment are buried all the time.
    • by tokul (682258)
      You heard about the war, but you haven't heard about combat range of Spits.
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:06PM (#42626489) Homepage Journal

    "Mr Cundall insists that his eyewitness testimony is correct."
    well, there is your mistake.

    Eyewitness accounts, as it turns out, are very bad.

  • I don't know whether to lambast the guy for being so f***ing stupid, or feel sorry for him because he's mentally ill. I mean, let's think about this. Why, WHY, would they bury even a single plane, let alone 124 of them? It's just not rational.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      clearly you've never been in the military.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      It's a wonder the word irrational exists in the English language since no one ever does anything that's irrational.
    • by Nidi62 (1525137)

      Why, WHY, would they bury even a single plane, let alone 124 of them? It's just not rational.

      Saddam did during the most recent invasion of Iraq. He figured that it would protect them from bombing attacks, and he could just dig them up after the war ended.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Um, the UK built over 20,000 Spitfires. At the end of the war, it's easy to believe, you've got over a hundred of these things in shipping crates in Burma, where they would have been assembled and used if the war hadn't suddenly ended. Essentially all your air force pilots in Burma are going home in the next couple of weeks.
      So:
      -no enemy for them to fight
      -nobody around who's trained to fly them
      -would rather the Chinese/Russians/whoever don't get their hands on

      • by cdrudge (68377)

        What about blow them up or otherwise effectively destroy them? If you're going to bury them, you're obviously willing to take the risk that someone could digs them back up and salvage parts and/or technology from them if they were not in a weatherproof or otherwise sealed container. Blowing them up with charges in key locations destroys the plan, most of the technology, and they can still be buried if you really wanted.

    • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:28PM (#42626691)

      I don't know whether to lambast the guy for being so f***ing stupid, or feel sorry for him because he's mentally ill. I mean, let's think about this. Why, WHY, would they bury even a single plane, let alone 124 of them? It's just not rational.

      Spitfires were considered technologically obsolete at the time. The British had an operational jet fighter by the end of the war. The ships necessary to transport the crates back to the UK may have been unavailable, or had higher priority cargo, or it was not cost effect, ... The mechanics needed to assemble the aircraft may have been, or were about to be, shipped home and discharged from service. Similarly the pilots may have been shipped home, or perhaps they were never sent to where the crates were in the first place.

      While burial is plausible, it would also seem plausible to just store the crates and sell the aircraft off as surplus to developing nations.

      The Spitfire is an amazing aircraft. An important part of history. But at the end of the war they were not as rare and valuable as they are today, and sufficient quantities were available in the UK for historical preservation and museum needs. If the aircraft in question had been returned to the UK they probably would have been scrapped and the metal sent off to the recycler. It may seem strange to us today but that was the postwar fate of many warbirds. That is why they are so rare today.

    • There is some plausible reasons for burying the planes, but to think that eyewitness locals would not dig them up for scrap in the intervening years is stupid.
    • It happened a lot at the end of WWII. The island of Espiritu Santo in the South Pacific has a popular dive spot known as Million Dollar Point, where the US dumped hundreds of vehicles and crates of equipment into the ocean rather than ship it home. The story goes that Britain and France refused an offer to sell the materiel at 6 cents on the dollar because they thought the US would have no choice in the end.but to give it to them. That US general in charge ordered everything dumped in a fit of pique. Ah, co
    • I've got a friend that used to be in the Army.
      He buried a Jeep once. Ran perfectly. He even drove it into the hole.
      Of course, I suppose it was the other guy with the bulldozer that didn't know it was there that *technically* did the burying...
      My buddy was actually just trying to hide it as a practical joke.......

  • Why would burying them in the ground seem like a better option than recycling the metal and the engine and various engine parts? Quite a few fit into automobiles or a car could be designed that used the parts. How strong is the evidence that anyone anywhere ever actually put them in the ground?
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Well, they were obsolete when they arrived, and the world had just undergone a major conflict - the planes would have to be shipped back to the UK and stripped, which would have cost money. Why spend that money, when you can spend less to mine, refine and produce the metal locally using British labour, with money ending up in British pockets?

      You forget just how many WW2 aircraft were cut up, scrapped and simply buried because the cost of recycling them was too high at that time - there are over 150 Lancast

    • by Anonymous Coward

      a car could be designed that used the parts

      A car that fits the 2000 hp engine?

      I want one, please.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Geophysical methods would be far more appropriate and much cheaper. A magnetometer would locate the engines very quickly and ground penetrating radar and seismic would take care of the rest.

  • Who knows? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 18, 2013 @12:27PM (#42626683)

    The tropical terrain makes searches ever harder. I have a great uncle who was shot down (presumably) over New Guinea. Like many Australians, he and the navigator were simply declared MIA. The resources weren't available for a search at the time, obviously. My Grandpa (his brother) was stationed in New Guinea. Even in that period, he told me, the climate attacked everything man-made, from clothes, boots, and leather, to fuel dumps.

  • I'm wondering if they should perhaps be looking for a rather large tree with strange-shaped fruit.
  • Have they looked in the triangle?
  • by FBeans (2201802)
    In all seriousness, When I wrote this this morning, I didn't care, after reading the comments.... nothings changed. I guess we can put this one down to a slow news day! Still better than seeing 1000 news stories about how an inch of snow has yet again crippled Britain.
  • Something something
    Something something
    Something something
    Something Spitfire
    Burma Shave!
  • I don't get it? The article starts with "The archaeologists have concluded that evidence does not support the original claim..." Then a spokesman says " there are no Spitfires"
    The article then continues by giving evidence that the spitfires might exist; "Before the dig, scientists had discovered large concentrations of metal under the ground ... plus some crate was found (although the article doesn't say why this is, or is not evidence. And that is it. There is no more mention in the article why they beli
  • I seem to recall, when it first made the news, that they had used some sort of underground radar to confirm the aircraft's presence and could make out the outline of them all. Seems odd that it turns out they aren't there, unless I dream't that first bit? Conspiracy theory anyone?

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