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British team arrives in Burma to unearth Spitfires

A British aviation enthusiast and his team arrived in Rangoon on Sunday to unearth a cache of as many as 36 Spitfire fighter planes which they believe were buried in Burma in the closing days of World War II.
A Supermarine Spitfire LF Mark VIII, of No. 155 Squadron RAF, about to take off from Tabingaung in Burma in January 1945. (PHOTO: London's Imperial War Museum)The 21-member team reportedly said they believe the Spitfires are buried in sealed crates up to 10 meters beneath Mingaladon Airport—the British air force’s former base located at the site of what is now Yangon International Airport—with more aircraft buried at two other sites in Burma.

"We are expecting them to be in first-class condition," team leader David Cundall is reported by The Associated Press to have said shortly after arriving.

According to the BBC, there are no more than 55 airworthy Spitfires left in the world out of a total of 20,000 which were originally built.

Cundall told AFP that getting a first glimpse of a Spitfire would be like the 1922 discovery of Egyptian Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb.

Cundall's share of any planes found will reportedly be 30%; his agents will have 20%, while the Burmese government will keep 50%.

The Spitfire is Britain’s most iconic combat aircraft, most celebrated during the Battle of Britain in 1940 when the fast-moving single-seater beat back wave upon wave of German bombers.

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Last Updated ( Monday, 07 January 2013 15:34 )  

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