Flt Sgt Copping's P-40 From The Egyptian Desert

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17 years 6 months

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Beaufighter

Really any plate with the ship number is enough to ID off. One of the issues with the U/C is if the plates sprang when the U/C hit the ground (which happens a fair bit if the impact is heavy enough to spring the bands). Other areas include a few places that are still accessible. By the look of things the Longeron is fast becoming a bad option due to the amount of sand now in the cockpit.

As to painted serials, IF this is ET574 then it was a fairly new aircraft - So unlikely to have been back to an MU for rebuild where this tended to occur. Aircraft had a tendency in the ME to be erected as a complete unit, so again the painting of serials is unlikely. Finally having talked to numerous desert ground crews aircraft were not often stripped in field to a point where painting serials would be a requirement.

If no plate is forthcoming, and the Longeron is just to difficult, we may get lucky with the actual aircraft in regard to the way Curtiss did Business, maybe the chalked numbers may have survived.

Buz

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The ground crew painted numbers on the guns and ammo boxes so that they stayed with a particular aircraft. This was done so that when the guns were removed to the armoury for servicing they could be returned to the actual position they were removed from and therefore gun harmonization would not have to be repeated. I have seen several examples of this.
Ammo boxes were often also marked so that a particular mix of ordnance would go on a particular aircraft and operation. ie HE, AP, tracer etc.

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17 years 6 months

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Beaufighter

Can I ask where you got this information from please??, I ask as this doesn't match what I have come to learn in my research on Desert Kittyhawk Units.

Can I also ask where your examples are from please......would love to update my desert Kittyhawk information, because again doesn't match my research. I will say I have come across this in Europe a lot and some RAAF units in the SWPA, but not desert Kitty Units. Also I assume by the armoury you mean the Cam net with the Ammo and table beneath it.

Buz

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re;

Is she actually RAFM property, or will she be transferred?

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Michammer, welcome to the forums.. Ownership is a sticky one.

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They have, but have been removed on here, sensible precaution to prevent the scavengers descending on the site.

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P-40 from Sahara

Is she actually RAFM property, or will she be transferred?

That is actually a very good point! Since, according to the earlier discussions on this thread, if the P-40 in question does turn out to be the one we think it is (ET574), then it was purchased from the manufacturer by H.M.G (His Majesty's Government).

So, strictly speaking, the P-40 remains the property of the British Government, who purchased it, and, by extension, the Royal Air Force, who operated it. (If it were lend-lease, then the US Government may have a claim to ownership, if bought with US Taxpayers dollars...)

The airframes in the RAF Museum at Hendon were - and in some cases still are - RAF Property. Some of them were given "M" (maintenance serials), making them, in theory at least "Struck off charge as Cat.5(G/I)" - grounded instructional or display airframe.

If you check the detailed histories of the aircraft at RAFM Hendon on the website, you will see this.

For example, Vulcan B.2 XL318:

"17 Dec 81 Declared non-effective aircraft as Cat.5 (display) and allocated 8733M.

4 Jan 82 Formally allocated to RAF Museum; preparation for dismantling and transport to Hendon begun by team from AS&T Flight, RAF Abingdon. Aircraft defuelled, drained and vented 4-6 Jan 82. Dismantling underway at Scampton by the end of Jan 82

11 Feb - Delivered in sections by road to Hendon and temporarily stored 9 Mar 82 in the Museum car park pending construction of the Bomber Command Hall"

In the case of the P-40 we are discussing, I would expect the same procedure: formally declared a non-effective airframe, given an "M" serial number, then transferred to RAF Museum ownership.

HOWEVER, as the P-40 in question was presumably Struck off Charge in July 1942 as "missing" then HMG and the RAF relinquished their claim of ownership almost 70 years ago. So it is a good question - who (if anyone) "owns" an abandoned aircraft?

It may be the case that this P-40 will have to be (temporarily) taken back on charge by the RAF again, so that it can be formally disposed of as "Cat.5(G/I) - transferred to RAF Museum Hendon" and given, for administrative purposes, an "M" serial number...

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If the A/C is in fact ET574 then it was A P40E-1 Lend lease Airframe
Direct purchase Kittyhawk I are identified by the AK*** AL*** serials
Lend Lease Airframes serials are in ET***, EV serial ranges

Terry

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By the way, as a p.s., this is highly relevant: http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/collections/aircraft/aircraft-history/1994-1347-A%20Curtiss%20Kittyhawk%20FX670.pdf

It is the background story to the P-40 that the RAF Museum currently have, painted up in the markings of a No 112 Squadron Kittyhawk, FX760/GA-? (as seen on News At Ten last night)

There are similarities and parallels to the P-40 under discussion here - although the RAFM's "current" P-40 came from the jungles of New Guinea instead the desert sands of Egypt.

If you read the text on the RAF Museum document, it goes into details as to how their "current" P-40 was identified (it's a complex composite of several airframes), quote:

"However, in 2002 contact was made with Australian P-40 researcher Buz Busby, who suggested where on the airframe to look for i.d details. Study of the airframe at Stafford found the number 1673 faintly stamped on the lower left longeron. This is the Customer Sequence number, indicating the aircraft fuselage is from a P-40N-15CU, USAAF serial 42-106101, Constructor’s number 29863, RAAF serial A29-556."

What has done, and is described above, should be re-done for the P-40 in Egpyt to give a definitive ID.

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The RAF are not going to take on charge a machine that was struck off years ago. It belongs to whoever owns the land I summise and I should imagine that is the Egyptian government.

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The ITN News report that was broadcast yesterday is now online at http://www.itv.com/news/2012-05-11/lost-and-forgotten-wwii-fighter-found-in-egyptian-desert/

Just to quote one line from the report

"The war moved on and he was forgotten as was the aircraft but it's not too late in a way to close that story off."

– AIR VICE MARSHALL PETER DYE, RAF MUSEUM

Terry J/David Burke:

Thanks for your quick answers! Let's hope that the recovery of this aircraft does not get mired in legal wrangling over the "rights of ownership" and who is the "rightful" owner. Since the discovery of this P-40 has "gone viral", this is now a pretty valuable piece of metal. Perhaps someone, somewhere, is expecting a considerable payment for its recovery and return. So the question of "rightful ownership" is now a vital and lucrative one.

To put it into context, the RAFM's "current" P-40 was apparently worth exchanging for two gate-guardian Spitfires: and you know how much a Spitfire (even a non-flyer) is worth...

Also, I hope that the RAF Museum already has funding in place for recovery of this aircraft, because it is not going to be quick, cheap, or easy!

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If the RAFM does successfully acquire it, it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

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P-40 from Sahara

If the RAFM does successfully acquire it, it will be interesting to see what they do with it.

I very much hope that they leave it is an "as found" condition.

There's an argument that this P-40 is in effect, a "war grave" and a memorial to the last pilot who flew it. To restore it to "factory fresh" condition would be, to me anyway, very much like the desecration of a war grave.

Also, since there is worldwide publicity of the discovery, most people going to the RAF Museum to view this P-40 would expect to see it "as it was on the TV"

My hope is that IF and/or when it is put on dsplay at the RAFM, it becomes for them what, say, the Elgin Marbles are to the British Museum. To be blunt, a "tourist attraction".

Some may not be comfortable with that thought, but anything that raises the profile of the RAFM, and gets it more visitors, surely has to be a good thing!

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Yes, I agree it should be left alone though perhaps replace the vandalised perspex panels. I sincerely hope they won't do what they are doing with the Hampden or what the IWM did with the 109 and do a 'half and half'. I hope they use the photos that are available and display it as it was genuinely found, and indeed left, by the poor pilot.

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Put it in a jig and rebuild it! Its as much a memorial in the air as it would be on the ground! The RAFM has enough aircraft that are 'unrestored' -its not in the condition that it was seventy years ago -its not a timecasule -we have no idea how many people have visited it over the years !

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Dave

Have to disagree with you:

1 - The RAF Museum already has a P-40 fully restored to "factory fresh" condition

2 - The RAF Museum may well have to "blow the budget" (presuming that they actually have one...) simply to get this P-40 safely home to the UK. It could be many years - if ever - before funds could be found to restore it to factory fresh condition, let alone airworthy.

3 - Airworthy aircraft can fly, and if they can fly, they can be destroyed in a crash. Surely it would be the cruellest irony for an aircraft to survive for 70 years, only to be destroyed in a crash on take off during its first post-restoration flight? (And that HAS happened to some aircraft...)

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Yes, the RAFM is already full of scrap but this P40 is worth preserving in 'as found' condition. People have this obsession with making things that flew 70 years fly again but that doesn't always work out and there are plenty of flying P40s out there already. If you made this P40 fly you would lose its story, and do great discredit to the pilot, whoever he turns out to be. I hope the most drastic thing they do is repaint it in its original markings.

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just listened on the news of one of the major news radios here, in Portugal.

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re;

Would a dismantled P40 fit in a Chinook?