WORK is to begin on unearthing dozens of missing British Spitfires thought to have been buried in the Burmese jungle at the end of the Second World War.
A team of experts fly out to Burma tomorrow to search for unused unassembled aircraft which they believe were packed into crates and buried by the RAF in 1945.
Some 36 planes are thought to be lying undiscovered in Mingaladon – one of three potential sites in the country – with as many 124 Spitfires buried in total.
Farmer and aviation enthusiast David Cundall, from Lincolnshire, is spearheading the dig, having spent 17 years and thousands of pounds researching the project.
Speaking at Heathrow Airport’s Hilton Hotel, in London, he described plans to return the Spitfires to Britain for restoration to allow them to be flown again.
“I think this is on the same level as the Tutankhamun find in Egypt”, Mr Cundall said.
“If we’re successful, I’d like to repeat what archaeologist Howard Carter said then. Lord Carnarvon asked: ’Can you see anything?’, and he replied: ’Yes, wonderful things’.
“There’s lot of rumours about why they were buried but the common theory is that they were buried after the war - in August and December 1945 - because they were surplus to requirements. Somebody gave the order, let’s dig a hole and let’s bury them.
“They will be restored to flying condition and hopefully they’ll be flying in about three years time at air shows, and promoting British industry as well.”
The 21-strong excavation team will include British war veteran Stanley Coombe, from Eastbourne, who responded to Mr Cundall’s appeal for witnesses who saw the Mark XIV Spitfires being buried 68 years ago.