This is such extraordinary news that one wonders if it can actually be true: the Telegraph reports that twenty Spitfire Mk XIV* that were discovered buried in Burma will be returned to the UK. David Cameron himself, having taken an interest in the case, has asked and obtained permission to recover the aircraft from the Burmese government.
The aircraft were buried at the end of World War II with some possibly being added a few months later, as they were no longer needed for operations. To avoid having them fall in the wrong hands, they were buried in their transport crates covered in waxed and greased paper, with all seals tarred. As a result, one can hope they are still in very good shape and could quickly be restored.
It is thanks to David Cunhall, a 62-year old British farmer, that the Spitfires were found. Having heard of their burial, he took 12 trips to Burma to locate them, spending over £130,000 in the process. He eventually found them in February. Having informed British authorities of his discovery, his story caught David Cameron’s attention, which explains the Prime Minister’s unexpected intervention.
The aircraft are to be dug out by a team which is already in place in Burma, and the salvage operations should begin very soon. The cost of the entire operation should near £500,000 but David Cunhall was reported as saying he hoped he could recover his money and dreams of seeing an entire squadron of flying Spitfires.
*Although we had initially indicated that the aircraft were Spitfire Mk II, the aircraft are Mk XIV with possibly some Mk VIII as well.