World of Tanks, World of Airplanes, and World of Warships creators Wargaming announced this morning that they are "fully underwriting" aircraft enthusiast David Cundall's efforts to recover British Spitfires reportedly buried in Burma at the end of World War II. The company's investment in Mr. Cundall's will allow him and the Burmese authorities to pursue the long-standing mystery of the Pacific theater.
David Cundall has been searching for and unearthing British aircraft since 1974; he tracked down and excavated several Spitfires, Hurricanes, and Lancaster Bomber – all of which crashed in the UK during WW2. In the late 1990s, he heard rumors of buried Spitfires in Burma and decided to pursue the story.
Since that time he has been tracking down surviving eyewitnesses, conducting geophysical surveys of the sites with help from the University of Leeds including Senior Lecturer in Geophysics Dr. Roger Clark and Research Associate Dr. Adam Booth (now at Imperial College London), and combing through archival records. He would ultimately make 16 trips to Burma (now Myanmar) in his search for the planes – and permission to excavate them. On October 16th, 2012, he signed a historic agreement with the Myanmar government in Naypyidaw, granting him permission to survey and excavate the planes.
Tracy Spaight, Director of Special Projects at Wargaming, has spent the past several months traveling with Cundall to Myanmar and the UK. Wargaming will soon launch a blog detailing Tracy and David’s various adventures. The blog promises to provide a first-hand account of living and working in Myanmar, archival research in the UK, a look inside "conflict archeology," the geophysics of surveying, and the actual excavation work in Myanmar, which is expected to begin later this fall or early next year. The blog will also shine a spotlight on the Burma Campaign, the so called "Forgotten War" of WW2.
"Wargaming is delighted to be working with David Cundall, the University of Leeds, and the extraordinary archaeology team we’ve assembled," Spaight said. "We are looking forward to the adventure ahead and to sharing our progress with the Wargaming community."
"The Wargaming team shares my passion and excitement for military history and historic preservation," added David Cundall. "Their commitment to these values and the generous funding they provided to underwrite the entire project have helped make this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity a reality. I am looking forward to returning to Mynamar with them and hope to bring these legendary Warbirds back to the UK."
"As with David’s other projects it was a fantastic opportunity to recover some heritage objects and I have been delighted to work with him on it," said Dr. Roger Clark, Senior Lecturer at the University of Leeds. "I am very much looking forward to taking part in the next stage in Burma."