JCB machines to help unearth buried wartime Spitfires


SAVANNAH, Ga. — Two excavators and a backhoe made by Staffordshire-based JCB are about to embark on a mission to help recover Spitfire warplanes believed to be buried in Burma.

The unassembled planes are thought to have been hidden in the ground by American engineers across three sites as World War II drew to a close.


Now a bid to excavate for crates thought to contain more than 30 of the Spitfires is about to get underway at Rangoon International Airport, and JCB is providing a 20-metric-ton JS200 tracked excavator, a 22-metric-ton JS220 tracked excavator and a 3CX Eco backhoe loader to complete the job.

The company is also dispatching the team leader of the world famous JCB Dancing Digger display team, JCB demonstrator Oliver Keates, 31, of Cheadle, Staffordshire, to operate the machines and offer expert advice on the digging operation.


JCB was founded by renowned engineer Joseph Cyril Bamford in a lock-up garage in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, in October 1945, and under the leadership of his son, Chairman Sir Anthony Bamford, it has grown into the world’s third largest manufacturer of construction equipment.

It is another great Staffordshire engineer, Reginald Mitchell, who is famous for designing the Spitfire. He was born in 1895 in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire and educated at Hanley High School, Stoke-on-Trent.

The dig is getting underway after a 17-year search for the Spitfires led by aviation enthusiast David Cundall. Award-winning online games developer Wargaming is funding the efforts to recover the buried Spitfires.

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