The truth or fiction behind rumours of scores of buried WWII Spitfire fighter planes is soon to be revealed with the announcement that ownership issues have been solved and recovery funding sourced.
Fifteen years ago, English farmer and aircraft enthusiast, David Cundall, 62, heard of mint condition Spitfire aircraft being buried in Burma in the closing stages of WWII. He immediately set out to confirm or deny the stories he heard from veterans who had been involved in the disposal and has spent some 130,000 GBP of personal funds in pursuing the clues.
At the end of WWII, vast quantities of war surplus material were simply dumped, scrapped or destroyed. It would appear that someone had the foresight to bury these factory-fresh, unassembled aircraft in their wax paper and tar sealed crates rather than burn or dump them at sea like so many other aircraft.
During a recent visit to Burma, British Prime Minister, David Campbell, famously appealed to Burmese authorities to co-operate with Mr Cundall and assist in their recovery.
The first lot of 36 aircraft is set to be excavated in January 2013 after funding for the US$1 Million operation was secured from Victor Kislyi, a computer games entrepreneur, and his company, Wargaming.net.
In the final deal, Mr Cundall will receive 30 per cent of proceeds, a Burmese partner 20 per cent and the Burmese Government, the balance. If these late specification Mark XIV aircraft are in the expected condition, they could be flying again within three years and worth well in excess of $2 million each. Some sources suggest there could be more than 100 of these aircraft buried in several sites near former WWII British air bases.