- Historic planes buried in Second World War are to be shipped back to Britain after their mystery locations were discovered
- War leaders did not want them to fall into foreign hands when they demobilised in 1945
- Hidden in crates at a depth of 4ft to 6ft the RAF then forgot where they were
(Mail Online) Twenty brand-new RAF Spitfires could soon reach for the sky following a deal reached with Burma yesterday.
Experts believe they have discovered the locations of around 20 of the Second World War fighters buried at airfields around the country.
David Cameron has secured an agreement that they will be returned to Britain
Historic: Spitfire pilots trudge through the mud at an advanced airbase in Burma after returning from sorties against the Japanese
Historians say the Spitfires were shipped out to Burma in the summer of 1945, two weeks before atomic bombs were dropped on Japan which brought the war to a sudden end.
The British campaign to push the Japanese out of Burma was the longest and bloodiest of the war, beginning after the Japanese invaded in late 1941.
Spitfires helped to support the Chindit special forces on the ground – and proved a huge boost to morale. They played a crucial role in defeating the enemy and covering the subsequent Allied advance through Burma, protecting the ground troops and providing vital supplies.
Historic moment: David Cameron meets with Burma's President Thein Sein after becoming the first British Prime Minister to visit Burma in 60 years, during which he secured the Spitfire deal
But the Mark II Spitfires in the secret haul never saw action. Earl Mountbatten issued an order for them to be hidden in 1945 to prevent foreign forces from getting their hands on them as the British army demobilised. The aircraft, straight from the production line, were buried in crates at a depth of 4ft to 6ft to preserve them.
Their whereabouts became lost after the RAF struck off their locations from their records.
But aviation enthusiasts, aided by experts from the University of Leeds and a Second World War veteran who witnessed their burial, believe they have now discovered their locations using ground penetrating radar technology.
Downing Street said the Government wants to unearth the aircraft and restore them to their former glory.
The condition of the cargo boxes and aircraft, whose wings and body are buried separately, is unknown. But experts are hopeful that they are well preserved.
A Downing Street source said that Mr Cameron had secured an agreement from the Burmese president to help Britain excavate the aircraft in a joint heritage project.
‘The Spitfire is arguably the most important plane in the history of aviation, playing a crucial role in the Second World War.
‘It is hoped this will be an opportunity to work with the reforming Burmese government to uncover, restore and display these fighter planes and get them gracing the skies of Britain once again,’ they said.