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Squadron of Lost WWII Spitfires To Be Exhumed In Burma

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the but-they're-out-of-date dept.

The Military 142

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt that sounds like a good Neal Stephenson plot point: "Like a treasure chest stuffed with priceless booty, as many as 20 World War II-era Spitfire planes are perfectly preserved, buried in crates beneath Burma — and after 67 years underground, they're set to be uncovered. The planes were shipped in standard fashion in 1945 from their manufacturer in England to the Far East country: waxed, wrapped in greased paper and tarred to protect against the elements. They were then buried in the crates they were shipped in, rather than let them fall into enemy hands, said David Cundall, an aviation enthusiast who has spent 15 years and about $200,000 in his efforts to reveal the lost planes."

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I heard the story (0, Redundant)

robbiedo (553308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830831)

She put a bullet Through his hat But he's had closer Shaves than that With Burma-Shave

Despite the Rarity, (5, Informative)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832373)

I think it a bit of pity that these are 1945 Spits, with Gryphon engines and the modified airframes.

If you care to see what these XIVs might look like, see this:
http://www.spitfireperformance.com/spit14v109.html [spitfireperformance.com]

The XIV marque - like other Gryphon Spits - had an elongated cowl, which interrupted the series of broad, elliptical shapes that made up a Spitfire, and gave it an extraordinary, sculptural quality.

Additionally, there was an enormous , five-bladed airscrew, behind a pointier spinner. The tiny cross section where the fuselage tapers toward the tali was "beefed up" and a much broader and taller tail/rudder structure again, change the elegant line of the aircraft. I suppose, as late as these models are, that Burma mk XIV's also have... Horror! The cut-down and bubble-top, instead of the more familiar hood and sloping airframe, behind the pilot.

Even in Merlin-engined Spitfires, you begin to see the transformation hinted with the Mk VIIIs that served in Australia and Asia, with clipped wingtips and pointed tops on their rudders. But these were gentler adaptations, and lent an interesting variant on the form of the aircraft that wasn't displeasing.

Altogether, so seriously altered, the Spitfire may well have been able to maintain itself against the equally radical adaptations made in BF109s and FW190s. However in doing so, the Spit looked more derived from Hawker's Tempest fighters, albeit with a nip at the chin, and less like the supple, equine aircraft that Reg Mitchell derived from Thompson Trophy racing winners of the 1930s.

Condition (4, Funny)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830853)

If they turn out to be in good enough condition to be made flyable I will squee, a lot.

Re:Condition (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831265)

While I'm always happy to see a bit of history recovered frankly the only way i would have "squeed' about it as you put it is if they would have been German or Japanese planes, why? because so many of their planes were completely wiped off the face of the earth. With a few exceptions nearly all of the Allied planes survive, with models in museums and even some of them still flying, but so many of the Axis planes are completely gone, not even a single example preserved. I mean sure we have a few Zeroes and BF109s but try to find a Do217 or a Kate and they are all gone.

So while I'm glad they have these to restore personally I wish we had at least one example of every major and minor plane from BOTH sides so that we could preserve that history of aviation.

Re:Condition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831475)

You obviously never heard about the Battle of Britain, which pretty much wiped out all UK planes. Fuck the Allies', this is history for the UK, not miserable farts like you.

Re:Condition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831641)

I'm pretty sure it was meant that examples of Allied planes survived where no such examples survived for Axis planes, not "Every individual plane manufactured by the Allies survived"

Re:Condition (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39832707)

You want a Do217? Man, I got one out in my hanger. I didn't know they were in such high demand. I was going to scrap it too to make room for the three B5Ns I'm getting in.

Re:Condition (5, Funny)

Guppy (12314) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831609)

No, we should leave them sealed. Every collector knows they're worth more in the original box. I mean, who wouldn't jump at an eBay listing like:
"Spitfire Vintage MINT NEW IN BOX - SUPER RARE!!! (Returns: Not Accepted)"

Preserved Junk? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39830869)

Not so sure about the perfectly preserved bit.

Not much anything mechanical does well with time. The ground has moisture which is the big enemy. I really doubt they had put them in a big plastic bag and vacuum sealed it. And even if they had, and nothing chewed into it, that still dries out anything made of rubber or leather.

They may just be preserved junk at this point - but it will certainly be interesting to see.

Re:Preserved Junk? (5, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830951)

They were covered in tar and grease and crated.

The region they were found in has mostly dry soil.

while I doubt all of them will fly I wouldn't be surprised if they can't get 6-12 of the 70 they found flying.

Re:Preserved Junk? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831031)

There is no reason why they can't fly Spitfire and Merline parts are still being made to support the existing flying spitfire.

Re:Preserved Junk? (2)

ChrisMaple (607946) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831319)

TFA says they're Griffon engines, not Merlin.

Re:Preserved Junk? (2)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831591)

Yes, the later Spitfires were powered by the Griffon (you could call it Merlin 2.0), and a number of those are flying today. Parts are available -- cheap no, available yes.

Re:Preserved Junk? (4, Informative)

speederaser (473477) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832333)

They were covered in tar and grease and crated.

The region they were found in has mostly dry soil.

while I doubt all of them will fly I wouldn't be surprised if they can't get 6-12 of the 70 they found flying.

In 1957 they put a brand new unprotected 1957 Plymouth Belvedere into an underground concrete time capsule and 50 years later in 2007 unearthed it:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19249855/ns/us_news-life/t/auto-time-capsule-unearthed-after-years/ [msn.com]

It was a horrid sight but I imagine a no-expenses-spared frame-up restoration could recover that car. If an unprotected car comes out good enough to be restored I imagine a protected aircraft might come out in better shape even though its been 65 years.

I can't wait to see them unearthed.

Re:Preserved Junk? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831051)

Every so often someone finds one of these WW2-era crates with all the described sealing being opened up - last I saw was of a few radio parts. What you see is equipment in exactly the new state it was shipped ~70 years ago. None of that rusting or staining you think of when you see old gear.

It is eerie.

Re:Preserved Junk? (1)

sir-gold (949031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832575)

some small mechanical parts are actually packed in machine oil and put in sealed cans (like a soup can), I have seen stuff like this at surplus stores

Re:Preserved Junk? (4, Insightful)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831161)

Even then, no matter. Planes have been pulled from swamps, bottoms of lakes, and worse and been restored to flying condition.

But this ROCKS! Anyone with even a little bit of interest in WWII aircraft knows this is a find of he century. The mechanical parts alone are worth millions.

Re:Preserved Junk? (5, Funny)

Noughmad (1044096) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831391)

Planes have been pulled from swamps, bottoms of lakes, and worse and been restored to flying condition.

Yes, but we don't have Yoda here, do we?

Re:Preserved Junk? (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831405)

+1 Funny

Re:Preserved Junk? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831241)

In about the middle of the 1990s at the rifle range where I was taught to shoot, we demolished our old storage shed to make room for a new clubhouse. The shed had always been the same to me; I'd played in it from the late '70s, and the old pre-WWII comms and target shooting gear fascinated me (and probably started my delight in history and retro gear).

There was a hell of a lot of stuff we found inside there that hadn't been touched in decades, including grease-packed radio equipment. It was packed and forgotten since the end of WWII, and was absolutely brand new. I expected the grease would have consumed plastic components by then (like it does now if you leave spare parts in the packing too long) but nothing from the time used those plastics. We sold almost all of it but kept a couple of (fully working) sets for display.

Underneath the shed were more parts in crates - I'd always thought the crates stored under there were just junk, because the outside wood was eaten away and the boxes themselves had sunk in a foot of relatively damp ground where a little water had run every wet season. They were never-opened storage crates though - half a dozen crates of willys vehicle parts. I witnessed the opening of a few of them and there was no noticeable decay. Everything looked like it'd been made yesterday, and this was gear from the 1930s. It wasn't just mostly in good condition mind, *everything* was like new. Water had obviously come in and left silt through the packaging, but the grease, wax and bitumen worked a treat to protect what mattered.

It wouldn't surprise me terribly if seventy out of seventy of those planes were able to fly with the use of very few modern spares.

Re:Preserved Junk? (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832603)

Keep looking, the Arc of the Covenant is bound to be in there somewhere....

Re:Preserved Junk? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39832257)

You obviously don't do much with Curio and Relic firearms. The Russians pull 100 year old weapons out of the ground constantly and they're in the same condition as when they went in once you get all the cosmoline washed off.

Re:Preserved Junk? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832671)

maybe you missed a whole one third of the article where they were waxed, wrapped in grease, paper and tar

Perfect timing (5, Funny)

Maquis196 (535256) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830875)

With recent austerity measures, the UK are looking at bringing these fighters back into service.

Thanks David!

Re:Perfect timing (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831169)

They'll probably sell it to us unsuspecting Canadians now that we have the F35 price quote blaming game in our parliament.
Good havens how well their 3 subs they sold us. I think we might get 2 of them finally seas worthy later this year.

Re:Perfect timing (2)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831359)

Good havens how well their 3 subs they sold us. I think we might get 2 of them finally seas worthy later this year.

I assume the subs refused to sink?

Re:Perfect timing (4, Funny)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831387)

Oh they'd sink just fine. It was the getting them to come back up part.

Fox news? Really? (-1, Troll)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830879)

Please circle one of the following:

* Fox news is a reliable source of information
* Sorry, I was doing meth in my cousins trailer when I linked
* I'm a moron
* I did it for the lulz

Re:Fox news? Really? (-1, Troll)

dredwerker (757816) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830887)

Please circle one of the following:

* Fox news is a reliable source of information
* Sorry, I was doing meth in my cousins trailer when I linked
* I'm a moron
* I did it for the lulz

I can't find the "circle stars" button.

Re:Fox news? Really? (2)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830933)

I can't find the "circle stars" button.

you'll need a web app like http://markup.io/ [markup.io] to be WebFour compliant.

Yes, really. (-1, Flamebait)

shiftless (410350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830915)

It's an article about a 70 year old fighter aircraft. What kind of bias do you expect, idiot?

Re: It's not Fox (5, Informative)

qubezz (520511) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830927)

It is sad when submitters don't check for the best sources.

Fox news copied their story from The Syndey Morning Herald [smh.com.au] , who copied the story from The Telegraph (UK) [telegraph.co.uk] (April 14). There is a follow up story [telegraph.co.uk] on the Telegraph site too; the buried spitfire story was revealed by a war vet, and they found them and made bore holes and looked inside the crates.

Re: It's not Fox (1)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832627)

It is sad when submitters don't check for the best sources.

And it's pathetic when someone bitches because a link is from Fox. Sheesh. Give it a rest.

Re: It's not Fox (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39833045)

You mis-spelled Faux.

Re:Fox news? Really? (4, Informative)

517714 (762276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830949)

If you RTFA you would have seen that the original source was the Sydney Morning Herald, to which Fox dutifully provided a link, and which provided additional information. Fox managed to report the news without contradicting the original source or adding its own speculation, something few American media (I hesitate to use 'news') sources seem to be capable of these days.

Re:Fox news? Really? (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831943)

If you RTFA you would have seen that the original source was the Sydney Morning Herald, to which Fox dutifully provided a link, and which provided additional information. Fox managed to report the news without contradicting the original source or adding its own speculation, something few American media (I hesitate to use 'news') sources seem to be capable of these days.

Yeah, but this is Slashdot.

Many if not most here act like they'd prefer getting their information from, and would put more stock in, the unhinged rantings of Baghdad Bob that were found scrawled on a wall inside some ghetto crackhouse, than they would hearing even the most well-done and bias-free story from Fox News. I'll even bet that most of these same people also think of themselves as being tolerant, except that they only tolerate hearing facts and opinions they agree with, and seek to shout-down, ridicule, and otherwise silence any opposing viewpoints or opinions.

That being said, being a WW2 aviation buff, I nearly squealed like a young girl myself when I read that upwards of *70*(!!!) WW2 Spitfires in crates were being unearthed.

Might it have been cooler if they found a cache of Horton Ho-229s or Focke-Wulf TA-183s?

Sure.

But this is *still* awesome, with a double-helping of awesome-sauce!

Strat

Leave them where they are (4, Funny)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830913)

These planes will be needed in the uprising against the psychlos.

erection (4, Insightful)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830919)

I have had the pleasure of seeing-hearing-feeling a Spitfire fly by at full speed at very low altitude. It's a sexual experience for anyone who appreciates aircraft.

Re:erection (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831013)

Of all the WW2 aircraft, the spitfire was the looker. It's a lovely locking aircraft - and with a well-deserved reputation for awesomeness too.

But seriously dude... erection. Get some help.

Re:erection (2)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831193)

Now, if it was an Hurricane or a Mosquito...

Re:erection (4, Interesting)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831379)

A lot of WW II (and other era) gear looks nice, but there is nothing quite like the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 hammering overhead. If it doesn't make your heart beat fast, you are dead. Even better than the Spitfire, the Lancaster had FOUR of these babies. I understand a flyover by a Lancaster gives your goose bumps goose bumps. I haven't had that privilege - yet - but I've stood directly underneath a B-17 followed by a B-24 at low altitude really booking in a shallow dive, and pretty near the last airworthy B-29 taking off and flying. I'm with penguin on this.

If you want to cry, consider that the RAF was buying Merlins for £2,000 apiece at the time. Those were times that life was colored a lot more vividly.

Yes, many Dresden residents agree (2)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833057)

the flyover of a lancaster really is remarkable, and leaves your bones shaking. its almost like your hair is tingling, as though it was on fire.

Re:erection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831469)

If I was in WWII they'd call me Spitfire
Cause you know that I can

Re:erection (3, Informative)

bamf (212) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831017)

Re:erection (1)

Penguinshit (591885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831059)

Very cool, thanks! To be very honest, I think the Hawker Hurricane sounded the best followed closely by the Spitfire and the Mustang well behind (although all used the Merlin).

Re:erection (4, Informative)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831579)

The Lancaster had FOUR Merlins!

From the ground [youtube.com]

From inside [youtube.com]

Re:erection (4, Funny)

Catmeat (20653) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831057)

I have had the pleasure of seeing-hearing-feeling a Spitfire fly by at full speed at very low altitude. It's a sexual experience for anyone who appreciates aircraft.

I'm not sure exactly what kind of experience this reporter [youtube.com] had with a low, fast Spitfire, but it doesn't seem to have been sexual, despite what he subsequently said.

Re:erection (3, Funny)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831177)

Oh, that was a sexual experience

Surprise Butt Sex kind.

Re:erection (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831109)

I've certainly experienced WWII aircraft flying over my head at close range, then crashing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oobkqiHavFc [youtube.com]

That video ain't from the shows I went to, but it's one of the best shots out there. It was much more impressive at River Plate stadium, bigger wall, and the plane going a larger distance.

Best. Show. Ever. Still getting goose bumps.

So did my father (5, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831195)

And a lot of his friends. Fortunately for him and the others involved in D-Day, they were German, and the crashing bit was courtesy of the AA guns of the Royal Navy.

He would tend to the view that, rather than it being a sexual experience, a Stuka attack was more of a shit-in-the-pants affair. Even a friend of his who was a Lancaster navigator never showed any inclination to go to air shows post war.

Yes, the past romanticises everything. The Spitfire was pretty, but the old engineers i worked with when I started would recollect its awful design flaws - like the fuel tank right in front of the pilot (the reason so many pilots were burned.) Like the battlecruisers at Jutland, the Spitfire was of the "the only way not to get killed is not to get hit" school of design. The British aircraft of WW2 that most of them regarded as the pinnacle of design was the first stealth bomber - the Mosquito. The ex-WC who tried to teach us metalwork said that he owed his survival to being picked to fly a Mosquito - your chance of surviving a mission was over 99% while in the metal bombers it was around 96%, bad odds in a long war. Unfortunately, as its radar near-invisibility was achieved by being made largely of plywood, there aren't many left.

Incidentally- Goering tribute (5, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831417)

"In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I'm going to buy a British radio set - then at least I'll own something that has always worked." (Hermann Goering, 1943)

Re:So did my father (2)

jbwolfe (241413) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831595)

Yes, the past romanticises everything. The Spitfire was pretty, but the old engineers i worked with when I started would recollect its awful design flaws

That pretty much sums up the British automobile industry as well- warm beer and all...

Re:erection (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831587)

>> It's a sexual experience for anyone who appreciates aircraft.

So your kink is plane sex?

Engine noise (2)

DaveAtFraud (460127) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831745)

I heard lots of Packard built Merlins at the 2007 Gathering of Mustangs and Legends at Rickenbacker AFB outside of Columbus Ohio. The overflight of a couple of dozen Mustangs in a "51" formation was particularly nice. More recently, I recorded the overflight [facebook.com] of 19 B-25s at the 70th reunion of the Doolitlle Tokyo Raiders at Wright-Patterson AFB. Turn up your speakers and enjoy the "noise." That many bombers in the air is just something you don't see or hear anymore.

Cheers,

Dave

It's all interesting (-1, Troll)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830925)

but actually useless.
Why unearthing all those planes?
To show? We already have plenty of original spitfires all over the world and a few also still working.
To sell? How would buy one?
To learn new things? Don't think so.

Re:It's all interesting (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39830945)

but actually useless.
Why unearthing all those planes?
To show? We already have plenty of original spitfires all over the world and a few also still working.
To sell? How would buy one?
To learn new things? Don't think so.

Because we fucking CAN.

Re:It's all interesting (5, Interesting)

ausrob (864993) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830955)

If they prove to be well preserved, they'll probably be amongst the best (working?) examples in the world. None of them saw active service - they came straight out of the factory, and assuming they can be put together.. why not?

Re:It's all interesting (2)

redfox2012 (1150371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830963)

All but the last one.

If they return in a semi-reasonable condition, I predict a frenzied bidding war when whoever ends up owning these auctions them off!

Re:It's all interesting (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39830969)

"We already have plenty of original spitfires all over the world and a few also still working."

Who the fuck is this 'we'?
I certainly don't have one in my hangar, and if these are sold with 0 miles flown, I'd buy one.

Re:It's all interesting (2)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831687)

if these are sold with 0 miles flown, I'd buy one.

Maybe if I was just going to sit it in a climate controlled room and let it appreciate. If I was going to fly in the thing I think I'd prefer if the original owner has rebuilt it and given it at least a test flight or two. But then again I've never been the type to get my hands greasy if I can avoid it. I love fast well built machines, but prefer to let someone else do the dirty work of assembling them.

  Of course I first have to win the lottery, throw money at lawyers to get my criminal record expunged, learn to fly, get licensed, buy an antique warplane, pay off the FAA, ATF, DHS, and any other three letter agencies that wouldn't like me flying around with live ammunition, blowing stuff up in the desert. :-D

Re:It's all interesting (4, Interesting)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830995)

There aren't many Spitfires still flying, and I am sure that there are many air museums and old plane enthusists that wouyld want one.
I am originally from New Zealand, andoften get asked "Do you have Hurricanes in New Zealand" and of course my answer is, No, but we still have a couple of Spitfires, a Corsair and a Mustang and a Sea Fury...
I don't know if Sir Tim Wallis is still alive, but the Warbirds in the South Island woulld jump at the chance of getting more Spit's
The Mustang may have been tyhe best fighter of WWII but the Spitfire looked more beautiful.

Anyway Adolf Galland once asked Goering for a Squadron of Spitfires during the Battle of Britain.

Re:It's all interesting (2, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831095)

The Mustang may have been tyhe best fighter of WWII

I think the answer will vary depending on who you ask.
The Zero and Yak-3 were arguably better dogfighter planes. Late war planes with more armament and raw power? The Typhoon and Ki-84 would be contenders.

I even have a Swedish friend who claims that the J22 was the best fighter plane, because not a single one was shot down. :-)

The late European theatre where the Mustang saw most of its kills was more like shooting lightly armed fish in a barrel, with Germany resorting to badly repaired planes with young inexperienced pilots, and the Americans never entering a fight on equal terms - superiority or abort. Finally, any American who shot at a plane that went down would often get a "kill" - in one account of a battle I read, Americans surprised four FW's, and shot them down. For a total of seven kills.
While the Mustang was a great plane with many great pilots, it still means that the number of kills is less impressive than the same number of kills by pilots from other countries.

If I had the chance to pick a WWII plane for myself, it would be the Spitfire or the Ohka.

Re:It's all interesting (2)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831249)

The Zero and Yak-3 were arguably better dogfighter planes.

While the Yak-3 may be arguable, it's hard to argue that the Zero was a better dogfighter, given that Hellcats shot down Zeroes in job lots without being shot down so much in return.

And mustn't forget corsairs shooting down zeroes in job lots....

Hell, once people figured out the Zero's gimmick, Wildcats (by no-one's definition a top of the line WW2 fighter) were shooting down zeroes at favourable ratios....

Re:It's all interesting (4, Insightful)

fnj (64210) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831665)

Dogfight is a very specialized term. It is NOT a synonym for "aerial combat".

No one, but no one, with any sense would argue that any of those US planes was a better dogfighter. Hellcats, Wildcats and Corsairs (and don't forget Lightnings and Mustangs) almost never shot down Zeros in dogfights. They used tactics to avoid trying to turn with Zeros, because they knew they would die trying that. Most of the victories came after Japan's experienced pilot cadre had their heart cut out. The US won because of vastly more industrial might, and far more depth in pilot training.

Re:It's all interesting (4, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831759)

No one, but no one, with any sense would argue that any of those US planes was a better dogfighter. Hellcats, Wildcats and Corsairs (and don't forget Lightnings and Mustangs) almost never shot down Zeros in dogfights. They used tactics to avoid trying to turn with Zeros, because they knew they would die trying that. Most of the victories came after Japan's experienced pilot cadre had their heart cut out.

So, you're defining "dogfight" as a two-dimensional duel between two vehicles moving in three dimensions?

As opposed to, say, four vehicles operating in pairs, moving in all three dimensions?

Zeroes started losing when the Thach Weave was developed (which essentially involved avoiding getting killed until your wingman could ruin the Zero pilot's whole day). They continued to lose for the rest of the war, since American pilots fought in pairs for the whole war.

Note that the reason the Zero turned so well is that it had no armor, no self-sealing tanks, none of those things that enhanced your ability to survive a fight if your opponent had a clue. And that it didn't actually take all that long to get a clue. When all is said and done, the Zero was a superb fighter for fighting one-on-onje with WW-one era paper bags, but not so useful against modern planes of the era.

Note, by the way, that saying that the USA only started winning after "Japan's experienced pilot cadre har their heart cut out" ignores the fact that the only way to "cut the heart out" of an "experienced pilot cadre" is to shoot them down in job lots. Which we were doing pretty much constantly after Midway.

Note that even as early as Guadalcanal, Wildcats (by no means a first-line fighter) were capable of engaging a larger number of zeroes and winning.

Re:It's all interesting (3, Informative)

Weatherlawyer (2596357) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833143)

Zeroes started losing when the Thach Weave was developed (which essentially involved avoiding getting killed until your wingman could ruin the Zero pilot's whole day). They continued to lose for the rest of the war, since American pilots fought in pairs for the whole war.

Thatch's Weave allowed the US pilots to survive.

The Zero had no armour, no self-sealing tanks, none of those things that enhanced your ability to survive a fight if your opponent had a clue.

Including despite orders to wear them, paracchutes.

They just weren't necessary.

the Zero was a superb fighter for fighting one-on-onje but not so useful against modern planes of the era.

Note, by the way, that saying that the USA only started winning after "Japan's experienced pilot cadre har their heart cut out" ignores the fact that the only way to "cut the heart out" of an "experienced pilot cadre" is to shoot them down in job lots. Which we were doing pretty much constantly after Midway.

The Zero remained superior to all marques until lack of development made it a loser. They put larger air cooled engines in but by then the British had shown the Yanks how to use the Corsair. Several other new models also made an appearance at that time.

I'd like to have seen what a zero would have performed like with a Merlin in it.

Note that even as early as Guadalcanal, Wildcats (by no means a first-line fighter) were capable of engaging a larger number of zeroes and winning.

The US pilots in China learned how to deal with the Japanese fighters before 1941:

"1. Don't get involved with them.

2. If you do get involved with them, don't get involved with them."

Re:It's all interesting (2)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831763)

it's hard to argue that the Zero was a better dogfighter, given that Hellcats shot down Zeroes in job lots without being shot down so much in return.

And mustn't forget corsairs shooting down zeroes in job lots....

IDTIMWYTIM.

Anyhow, the tactics for engaging Zeros was simple - don't get into a dogfight with one. Due to their shallow climbing angle, strafing them from above was a common tactic. As was engaging them two-on-one.

But in the early part of the war, when dogfighting still was common and the allies didn't enjoy superiority in numbers, the Zero had a 12:1 kill ratio against allied aircraft. And that's not the propaganda numbers either, but from counting actual losses after the war.
So I think we can safely say that it was a great dogfighter for its time. Not so great an all-round fighter plane, but that's a different matter.

Re:It's all interesting (1)

AJWM (19027) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832959)

I think that once in the fight, the Spitfire was better than the Mustang. The problem with the Spit was that it didn't have the range the Mustang did, hence it was more a defensive than offensive fighter. Perfect for the Battle of Britain, but less so for bomber escort.

arm chair air marshalls (0)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833069)

make me want to vomit

Re:It's all interesting (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831371)

The Mustang may have been tyhe best fighter of WWII but the Spitfire looked more beautiful.

My father served in Burma as an RAF pilot in 1944 and 1945. His squadron had converted from Spitfires to Mustangs earlier in the war. Near the end of the war, there was a strategy to change back to Spitfires - old ones, not up to the current spec - and send the Mustangs back to equip squadrons in Europe. The pilots were furious because the Spitfires had neither the range to be ideal ground-attack aircraft or the performance to fight Zeros. Luckily, Germany surrendered before this plan was completed.

I speculate that the crated Spitfires may be part of the planned downgrade.

Re:It's all interesting (3, Insightful)

quenda (644621) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832187)

"Do you have Hurricanes in New Zealand" and of course my answer is, No, but we still have a couple of Spitfires, a Corsair and a Mustang and a Sea Fury...

... which sadly represents more firepower than the current NZ airforce.

Re:It's all interesting (5, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830999)

but actually useless.
Why unearthing all those planes?
To show? We already have plenty of original spitfires all over the world and a few also still working.
To sell? How would buy one?
To learn new things? Don't think so.

The same could be said about many things, including quite a few people.

They are important both because they are a piece of history, but also because the Spitfire is one of the two most gorgeous planes ever made.

If you're a redneck unable to see the point of art for art's sake, consider this: People will pay good money to see these planes. If any of them are trainers, even more to get a ride in one. And there are plenty of people who would mortgage their home in order to buy one, or even a share in one. Spitfires have value because people think they have value. What you personally think is irrelevant - this is like finding crates of gold.

Re:It's all interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831399)

Why unearthing the planes

To make lots of money for Mr Cundall of course

Re:It's all interesting (4, Insightful)

boaworm (180781) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831009)

To sell? How would buy one?

Are you seriously asking if there is anyone on this planet who would want to buy a factory-new fully functional Spitfire?

If you put them out there i'd expect them to be gone quicker than quick.

Re:It's all interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831029)

but actually useless.
Why unearthing all those planes?
To show? We already have plenty of original spitfires all over the world and a few also still working.
To sell? How would buy one?

Try to buy one of those "plenty", see how much it costs. Plenty of pilots, collectors, and museums want to buy one, but they're pretty pricey. More on the market is a good thing. (And it's cheaper to dig one up than to build a replica, obviously.)

Re:It's all interesting (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832559)

There is something like 40 spitfires flying world wide.

We have the potential to double that number and supply spare parts for all of them.

Most WWII aircraft have been regulated to showroom only condition.

Reason for burial (4, Interesting)

ignavus (213578) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830959)

They were buried in August 1945 - so after the end of WW2. The Japanese - the most recent "enemy" - had surrendered, and were not in a position to get control of the aircraft or use them. The reason they were buried was because the aircraft were surplus and it would cost too much to return them to the UK.

So I am not sure who the "enemy" was that they were being hidden from. I suspect it was a case of burying military equipment after a war because it would be dangerous for anyone else (eg random civilians or possible insurgents, etc) to have access to it.

Re:Reason for burial (4, Interesting)

the_raptor (652941) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831037)

My favourite example of this kind of stuff is the reefs in the pacific made from dumped US and Japanese war surplus. Even though much of that equipment remained in US arsenals through the 1950's and was used by US allies well into the 70's it was cheapest to dump brand new tanks and use the space to ship soldiers home.

Re:Reason for burial (1)

prehistoricman5 (1539099) | more than 2 years ago | (#39832729)

According to my grandpa (who was part of the postwar "cleanup crew" in korea), they weren't even allowed to sell the stuff to the locals. It all had to be destroyed.

Re:Reason for burial (0)

SirFatty (1940968) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831091)

Yes, the "enemy". you fuckwit.

Good luck getting them out of the country (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39830967)

Good luck getting them out of Myanmar, it is still a military dictatorship and there are still sanctions in place against the place that prevent the transfer of military hardware. And I'm not sure whether a "visit by PM Cameron" where he discusses them for maybe 20 seconds is going to change much.

Re:Good luck getting them out of the country (2)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831099)

the planes still belong to the RAF. There's a small matter of pride here, the RAF are not going to just let them go. As for it being military hardware; OK technically you're right but what hope do you reckon those Spits'll have against even, oh, an F86 Sabre? Ignore the fact that the B52 has been flying for 60 years and ask yourself; could you consider a 70 year old airframe that is so hopelessly obsoleted by what we now consider to be training aircraft, as a viable piece of military hardware? Most of the rest of the world considers it at best a functioning work of art, at worst an historical curio.

If DC can actually engage his brain for a minute here, I think he could see to getting those aircraft and as a gesture of goodwill, simply give the Burmese some much needed medical and food supplies as a gesture of thanks for looking after these aircraft. It's what I'd do.

Re:Good luck getting them out of the country (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831347)

They have (depending on what variant these are) either .50 machine guns, 20mm cannon, or quite possibly both, and maybe some .303 machine guns on the side. In general, these would be considered quite viable pieces of military hardware, if adapted to a tripod or ground vehicle mount. I'm not familiar with the details of the sanctions GP mentions and whether they'd have an issue with this (AIUI, such sanctions are usually against transfering arms to such countries, not from them), but it's just silly to say anything with 8 Browning M2s (or whatever weapons package) in it is only "technically" military hardware -- it is military hardware in every meaningful sense of the words.

Re:Good luck getting them out of the country (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39833117)

The planes can fly without the guns. There are some cracking examples which are part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. All it needs is for someone to take a hacksaw to the guns and they're permanently disabled. From weapons of war to wing weights in ten minutes.

Better yet, borite plugs. Disabling automatic rifles for collectors since the year Tet.

Great idea for other old military hardware! (3, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39830971)

Burying military surplus is a great way to give future military historians and archeologists solid evidence to study in the future. It is inexpensive and should be done with other unneeded military hardware.

Like, landmines and nerve gas.

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (1, Informative)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831043)

Like, landmines and nerve gas.

Nerve gas has a very short shelf life. Explosives deteriorate as well, especially detonators. That's why some war is always needed to use them up before they expire. Fortunately, it has been found that modern conflict use ammo at ungodly levels so our shelves are always stocked with fresh, shiny bottles o'boom.

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831061)

Nerve gas has a very short shelf life. Explosives deteriorate as well, especially detonators. That's why some war is always needed to use them up before they expire. Fortunately, it has been found that modern conflict use ammo at ungodly levels so our shelves are always stocked with fresh, shiny bottles o'boom.

Unexploded ordenance is still found on the battlefield of Verdun. WW I era.
Not to speak of bombs dropped by Allied forces on Milan and other Italian cities during the WW 2. Every once in while we discover a new unexplosed bomb, the neighbourhood has to be evacuated and the ordenance made to explode.
Shells. bombs etc... last way way past their usefullness (if they ever had one).

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (1, Troll)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831173)

Part of the usefulness of a weapon is its ability to do its job on command, and not randomly. Ordnance from a century ago can still go BOOM, but it won't go BOOM when it's needed. Detonators in particular become highly unstable, and that's why a good lot of ordnance (landmines, shells) has removable detonators (other than changing the fuse setting). Seriously, how retarded are you? Did your parents have any offspring that survived?

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831907)

Part of the usefulness of a weapon is its ability to do its job on command, and not randomly. Ordnance from a century ago can still go BOOM, but it won't go BOOM when it's needed. Detonators in particular become highly unstable, and that's why a good lot of ordnance (landmines, shells) has removable detonators (other than changing the fuse setting). Seriously, how retarded are you? Did your parents have any offspring that survived?

Quick, get a grenade and hit it with a hammer - continue until something happens. I hope it doesn't kill you - just make you lame like your posts

hahahah - see what I did there I compared the lame crippled people from surplus ordinance to you post, lame - get it, just like you are lame and pathetically useless. Hey here's a thought, punch yourself in the face, keep repeating until you beat some sense into yourself.

hahahaha - see what I did there. I created a vision of you punching yourself in the face because your aggression is because you have anger management issues from being beaten up by your younger sisters when you were in your 30's, they are 12. It must of been of all the booze your mum drank when she was pregnant with you.

hahahaha - see what I did there I trolled you with your pathetic insecurities about how everyone on the internet knows you haven't seen your penis for years and you have to resorts to fellating your pet dog for sexual pleasure.

No, hang on lets take it down a here, just be serious for a minute. Look I know your being a troll but go to the kitchen draw and open it then put your hands in there and slam the draw closed heeps until your fingers are broken and you cunt use a keyboard again.

hahahahah - see what I did there.

Look I'll be watching you cause you ain't very good at being a troll, you are piss weak so I hope you answer this so I can fuck with your head but I don't think you will cause you realise you are out of your troll league.

For all you think you know about military affairs, you don't because you

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831181)

I've found old bullets on the WW1 battlefields of Northern France that were still viable. The local farmers regularly dig up shells and leave them at the sides of the fields for the military to pick up.

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (1)

Shinobi (19308) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831125)

The deterioration makes almost all munitions MORE dangerous, like for example going from stable and needing a detonator to go boom and instead going to one-false-look-and-it-goes-boom.

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (-1, Troll)

JockTroll (996521) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831185)

Which completely negates its military usefulness. Were you born a spazz or did you have to work hard at it?

Re:Great idea for other old military hardware! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831719)

Which completely negates its military usefulness. Were you born a spazz or did you have to work hard at it?

What a fucking try hard loser military wanna be. Go back to self masturbating over underwear catalogues because you haven't got enough testicles to buy a porno mag.

You they kind of guy that collects a bottle of his own semen to drink later. Your even pussy at being a troll.

Beneath Burma? (0, Offtopic)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831075)

Beneath Burma? Why not in Burma? Or did you mean Thailand?

Another strange Stephenson plot point (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831251)

(Mild spoiler here)

A couple years ago, long after I read The Baroque Cycle and its ending about strange alchemic gold coming from The Solomon islands, they discovered traces of what must be the wreck of La Perouse expedition [wikipedia.org] , 230 years after it disapeared. For mind blowing reference: the last words of Louis XVI as he walked up the steps to the scaffold were 'Is there any news of La Pérouse?'. It was begging for volume 4 to be written...

So that's what Churchhill did... (1)

sadler121 (735320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831445)

with the Spitfires from Demons Run...

Burma doesn't exist anymore. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831631)

How are they going to find planes in a place that hasn't existed in almost 25 years?

So who owns them now? (1)

jbwolfe (241413) | more than 2 years ago | (#39831649)

If indeed they turn out to be viable, they would be worth a fortune or maybe even priceless. If the Burmese and UK governments are involved, I would bet they won't end up owned by private parties- they'll likely fly less under those circumstances.

Very cool find. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39831751)

Old Spitfires fly all around
Up they come from under ground
New Old Stock is all the rave
Burma-Save

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