World War II figher plane found in desert
For 70 years a relic of World War II has sat in the Sahara Desert, untouched, unseen and unbeknownst to anyone.
That relic is being described as an almost perfectly preserved RAF Kittyhawk P-40 fighter plane, recently discovered where it came down in the Egyptian desert in June 1942.
It is thought the pilot, believed to have been Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping, 24, survived the crash and initially used his parachute for shelter before making a desperate and futile attempt to reach civilization by walking out of the desert, according to The Telegraph.
The location is more than 200 miles from the nearest town and Copping was never seen again.
The single-seater plane was discovered by chance earlier this year by a Polish oil company worker exploring a remote region of the Western Desert in Egypt.
While the aircraft did suffer some damage when it landed, the dry desert air has helped it retain much of its original color scheme.
In addition, most of its cockpit instruments are intact and it still had it guns and ammunition before they were seized by the Egyptian military for safety reasons, according to The Telegraph.
No human remains have been found but it is thought the pilot’s decomposed body may lie anywhere in a 20 mile radius of the plane.
There are signs of the makeshift camp the pilot made alongside the fuselage, according to the publication.
The RAF Museum at Hendon, in north London, has been made aware of the discovery and plans are under way to recover the aircraft and display it in the future.
A search will also be launched in the slim hope of finding the remains of the lost airman.
Andy Saunders, a military aviation historian, said the aviation historical world is hugely excited about the discovery.
“This plane has been lying in the same spot where it crashed 70 years ago,” he said. “It hasn’t been hidden or buried in the sand, it has just sat there.
“It is a quite incredible time capsule, the aviation equivalent of Tutankhamen’s Tomb. It is hundreds of miles from anywhere and there is no reason why anyone would go there.”
Copping was a member of the RAF’s 260 Squadron, a fighter unit based in Egypt during the North Africa campaign.
By June of that year the Allies were retreating from “Desert Fox” Erwin Rommel and his Afrika Korps.
On June 28 Copping and another airman were tasked with flying two damaged Kittyhawk P-40 planes from one British airbase in northern Egypt to another for repair, according to The Telegraph.
During the short flight Copping lost his bearings, went off course and was never seen again.
Copping’s name appears on the El Alamein war memorial. It is not thought that there are any immediate family members of his left in the United Kingdom.