Video Gaming Company Says No Spitfires in Burma

British aviation enthusiast David Cundall, right, addresses the media in Rangoon on Jan. 9, 2013. (Photo: JPaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — A global video gaming company that funded a high-profile hunt for dozens of World War II-era British fighters in Burma has some bad news for aviation enthusiasts: It says none of the legendary planes are buried in the Southeast Asian country.

Excavation teams carrying out surveys on the ground, however, said Saturday that they would not give up the search.

The hunt for the lost planes was launched amid hope that as many as 140 rare Spitfires were hidden in crates in pristine condition in three locations in Burma.

But the Belarusian video gaming company Wargaming.net, which had backed the venture, said in a statement late Friday that the planes were never even delivered to the country by Allied forces as the war drew to a close nearly 70 years ago.

“The Wargaming team now believes, based on clear documentary evidence, as well as the evidence from the fieldwork, that no Spitfires were delivered in crates and buried” in Burma between 1945 and 1946, the statement said.

Archival records indicated that the British unit handling shipments at the time received only 37 aircraft, but “none of the crates contained Spitfires and most appear to have been re-exported,” said the company, which is best known for its multiplayer titles including “World of Warplanes” and “World of Tanks.”

Moreover, “appalling weather” and shortages of heavy equipment and manpower would have made it “almost impossible” to bury the massive crates, the company said.

On Saturday, however, the search venture’s local partners said they would not give up and were still conducting surveys near the international airport in Rangoon as well as the Kachin State capital Mytikyina.

“I am very confident that the planes are buried in both places. Excavation is a time-consuming task, but I strongly believe that we will be able to extract the planes,” said Soe Thein, a retired Burmese geology professor who has assisted in the recovery operation.

Htoo Htoo Zaw, whose company is partnered with British aviation enthusiast David J. Cundall in the search, said representatives from Wargaming.net left before the survey was complete and could not say definitively whether there were planes or not.

The Spitfire remains Britain’s most famous combat aircraft. Its reputation was cemented during the Battle of Britain, when the fast-moving single-seater aircraft helped beat back waves of German bombers.

Britain built a total of about 20,000 Spitfires, although the dawn of the jet age at the end of World War II meant that the propeller-driven planes quickly became obsolete.


6 Responses to Video Gaming Company Says No Spitfires in Burma

  1. Trying to find the things which are not existing in reality seems trying to catch a dragon in the zoo. What a waste of time, energy and money!

  2. Your Spitfire is long gone with scrap metal a long time ago. The country as poor as Burma, for people to survive, they will do what they have to. Too little too late Brits, go home.

  3. Well, they should try looking further more to Chin State and India’s Churachandpur boundary area. When I was a kid I heard kind of a story that tells about the Vanleeng (plane) like a lots and lots of butterfly flying in the sky. That’s all i would say about it.

  4. British came back to Burma after Japanese lost war. If the Spitfire Planes were burried around the Burma and then British will be digging up and taken back to UK before they give Independent to Burma.

  5. They should try harder. If they really want it. I would recommend what Sakhong says on the above comments. Still there are some Tanks remaining we can see there in Chin State of Burma and in the Indian side of the Churachandpur area. But I’m not sure about the Spitfires. As Sakhong says there was a story telling about the planes through our forefather, which says it was like a butterfly flying in the sky, like in a season of paddy-field rice harvest season. At least they should try looking or locate that area. There’s no doubt looking for it.

  6. My father was capture in burma during ww2 , he was a radio navigator / gunner .
    he told me they burried some spitfires because somone had taken the guns of them to clean and they mistplaced or lost some of the components so they burried them so they would not fall into the japs hands …

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