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The Greatest Warbird Collection Never Found

Though no Supermarine Spitfires were uncovered near Mandalay International Airport, archaeologists remain hopeful

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Archaeologist Andy Brockman (right) at the dig site. (Photo: Gavin Longhurst and Wargaming)

Anyone with a passing interest in World War II aviation was disappointed to learn that a treasure trove of Supermarine Spitfires, thought to have been buried in their shipping crates at a Royal Air Force base in Burma (today known as Myanmar) was only a dream.

Certainly no one was more disappointed than David Cundall, a 62-year-old farmer from Lincolnshire, England, who had searched for the airplanes for 16 years and come to the conclusion that they could be found near Burma International Airport, which, during World War II, was the site of RAF Mingaladon. Cundall had heard from veterans of the U.S. Navy Seabees that the Spitfires had been buried, and he still believes they are in Myanmar somewhere. But after a careful excavation of the Mingaladon site—careful, among other reasons, because it was the site of combat during World War II and coming upon unexploded ordnance, whether through archaeology or just dumb luck, ends badly—a group of scientists funded by online game developer Wargaming announced last January: No Spitfires here.

Last month Wargaming’s director of special projects, Tracy Spaight, organized a presentation of the group’s findings at the Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon in North London. Here is a video brief of the evidence presented by the team of archaeologists and geophysicsts who traveled to Myanmar to search.

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