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Leeds researchers help in Spitfires search

University of Leeds geophysicists will advise during the final stages of a search for buried Spitfires in Burma.

They will help carry out a ground investigation to establish whether any of the fighter aircraft exist, and if so, what condition they are in.

The expedition is the culmination of a 15-year investigation led by Lincolnshire farmer and aircraft enthusiast David Cundall, who has eyewitness reports that a number of the aircraft were buried in packing crates at a Burmese airbase at the end of World War Two.

Dr Roger Clark, a senior lecturer in the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds, and Dr Adam Booth (formerly University of Leeds, now Imperial College London, Department of Earth Science and Engineering) will carry out further geophysical surveys to confirm and update data recorded by the Leeds team in 2004.

On 16 October 2012, Mr Cundall signed a contract with the Burmese government giving him the rights to excavate the site and repatriate some of the aircraft, if they exist. It is hoped the ground investigation will start in November after the monsoon season ends.

University of Leeds student Lauren Braidwood, who has just completed an MSc in Exploration Geophysics, will help operate the geophysical equipment, which includes electromagnetic and magnetic systems. An archaeologist and film crew will also join the expedition.

Mr Cundall first sought technical advice from the University in the late 1990s. Surveys led by Drs Clark and Booth in 2004 show large electrical conductivity anomalies, consistent with the expected signature of buried aircraft, at a location that matches Mr Cundall’s eyewitness reports.

Dr Clark said: “We know there’s something unusually conductive down there – it’s not a natural formation. Excavations are required to discover exactly what these anomalies are, but the correlation between the historical and geophysical data is encouraging.”

Dr Booth said: “I’m really pleased to see this project finally reaching a conclusion. David has put years of effort into getting to the bottom of this unique story.”


For more information:

Please contact Esther Harward, University of Leeds press office, phone +44 113 343 4196 or email e.harward@leeds.ac.uk