Excavating World War II Planes From Burmese Mud
Jan 13, 2013
This is a story that belongs in a book or a movie. It’s been a nearly two-decade personal mission for David Cundall to find and recover possibly dozens of rare Spitfire airplanes.
The planes were shipped from England during World War II, with each piece waxed and wrapped in greased paper and then tarred to protect against the elements. Reportedly, the planes were buried In August 1945. At that time propeller planes were being phase out with jet-engine designs, and the British forces didn’t want the planes to come into possession by the enemy.
The project to locate and excavate the planes was reported back in April, and now they have confirmed finding a crate with Spitfire parts. However, it is submerged in murky, muddy water. The main focus of the team's efforts is a site close to the runway at Rangoon international airport in Burma.
The team is using a JCB 20-metric-ton JS200 tracked excavator, a 22-metric-ton JS220 tracked excavator and a 3CX Eco backhoe loader to complete the job. The machinery is being provided by the company and its dealer in the country.
The Spitfire Mark XIV planes are rare in that they used Rolls Royce Griffon engines rather than the Merlin engines used in earlier models. Production of Spitfires ended in 1947 with more than 20,000 made, but only 2,000 had Griffon engines. Griffon-powered planes could reach 440 mph with 2,050-horsepower engines.
Read more here and here.