Just think...if you found one of these, you could... ...well - fly a short distance...May 1 2012 at 12:45 AM
|Loki Luv, MD° (no login)|
Lure of lost, buried Spitfires drive treasure hunters to Burma
This is a story of buried treasure, a map with X marking the spot and the race to recover untold riches.
The treasure in this case is of the winged variety, some 60 Spitfires, maybe more, quite possibly in pristine condition, never flown in anger, interred in Burma at the end of the Second World War. There are only three dozen Spits in flying condition around the world, commanding prices of £1.5 million or more. So this is big money. And as with all tales of treasure-seeking, there is mistrust, manoeuvring and bad blood.
The story begins in August 1945 as the irradiated ruins of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still smouldered. The war against the Japanese in Burma, always something of a strategic sideshow, was suddenly truncated, leaving the British with vast quantities of war material too expensive to ship home.
What to do, then, with some of the latest versions of the Spitfire, Griffon-engined Mark XIVs, recently delivered and still in their crates? Wary of leaving high-performance aircraft in a country with an uncertain future, Britain's South-East Asia command decided to bury them.
As many as 120 Spitfires, original cost about £12,000, may have been disposed of in this way.
There they have lain for 67 years, protected by tar seals and grease, steadily accumulating in value, just waiting for someone to find them and dig them up.