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

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I have always considered the George Maude P-40 as the reference example for the type as it was straight from RCAF to George . Despite a wing swop it hasn't to be best of my knowledge ever been 'restored' or flown as a warbird.

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Mark -was the opportunity to acquire the two former RAAF P-40's not allowed to Australian collectors ? I recall the recoveries from PNG over the years have by far favoured Australian and American collectors -I do wonder if the numbers of P-40's flying in RAAF markings also reflects the owners whims but I guess that comes down to the age old arguement of who stumps up the cash !

Yes, I totally agree David, and I am not bemoaning the outcome for those two airframes but simply using those two as examples of how the wishes and memories of the pilots who flew them might not be considered in the outcomes they result in, as against the wishes of the owners.

Both were major restorations of war salvaged aircraft, they were not in anyway intact time capsules of their service when they were found.

Of course I am presenting my own opinion and view as to the appropriate outcome for this Sahara P40, and explaining and exampling the basis of those views, it doesnt make me right or wrong, or these issues black and white.

As for 'Or does accuracy and authenticity only exist in the eye of the beholder' - I believe you also have that dilemma with a former significant
research Lincoln -whether to restore back to what it is a post war civilian
test bed or to recreate it into something its not - a RAAF bomber. Of course in the case of the Lincoln I acknowledge its very much a former shadow of its former self -however are we restoring for those who remember them from living memory or trying to give an authentic and historically correct machine for future generations.

Yes again, here is an airframe with some significance and provenance of its own, that will cause that dilemma to be resolved at some stage.

Where an airframe is so important, so unique that its own identity should not be lost, its usually considered significant enough hopefully not to let it fall into such condition or leave the country of origin.

Of course like the two former RAAF P-40s are still able to be acknowledged for their individual histories as the basis of the Canadian and RAFM restorations, they cannot easily be interpreted and recognised as such by anyone viewing them, and the same thing would occur with Lincoln RF342 were it to be restored to represent a GAF Lincoln rather than a Napier test bed.

Had its own cockpit come with it, I certainly would have been arguing strongly for RF342 to be presented as itself, however that is now in the Westpac collection of Paul Allen presented in its earlier identity as a Lancaster cockpit.

Of course, if presented in a RAAF scheme to represent a GAF built example, its still RF342 under the paint and not lost to posterity or research, just hidden from plain view.

But equally, the reasons why museum's import or source such foreign aircraft is to fill a gap in their collection and present a locally important type, usually by displaying that aircraft in a more representative identity and paint scheme. ie the RAFM DAP mark VIII Beaufort becomes a Bristol mark II, the NMUSAF did the same with an ex RAAF Beaufighter and Spitfire mark V, or even the RAAFM's F4 Phantom.

We might well not have any influence in what happens to her anyway -what I do know is she is very much in danger and if it came to a case of her being recovered there are private individuals in the U.K and abroad who would conserve and restore her correctly rather than see the current shambolic situation continue.

Of course we are just having an philosophical online debate, that will have little or no impact on what actually happens, and it does need some immediate action and its not clear that is happening?, or quick enough?

But equally if someone with deep pockets really wanted it, wouldnt they already be trying to get it, and be negotiating to do so? - and of course I'm not sure who you do that with, and certainly I dont think its a simple case of just turning up and slipping it into a shipping container and expecting the locals to look the other way?

I have always considered the George Maude P-40 as the reference example for the type as it was straight from RCAF to George . Despite a wing swop it hasn't to be best of my knowledge ever been 'restored' or flown as a warbird.

I'm not suggesting the one in the desert is the reference example P-40 and needs to be conserved on that basis?, I'm suggesting its value is that its largely intact from it wartime forced landing with tragic results that occurred 70 years ago, and from that point of view is very significant and unique. (it its with Lady Be Good but clearly she is no longer in anyway representative of how she was when found - I consider this still is, even with the broken glass and gunsight and guns removed etc

I continue to think its of such uniqueness and significance that it is deserving of recovery into the RAFM or IWM and display "as found", and if not then into the Egyptian museum on the same basis.

regards

Mark Pilkington

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ANSWER TO TANGMERE1940:
after the discovery of 12 February, we advised raf museum Colling and Colonel of the British Embassy.
We put at their disposal our experience and logistics for future missions.
We informed them that we would be back on June 14th and we were asked to detail every discovery.
We warned that the mission was to seek evidence of the pilot.
So we did.
The remains we found were never attributed to Copping, we just said they found bones and coins.
We warned the Egyptians on the satellite phone "Good job we want to meet you in cairo When you come back!"
We said that we have observed, done the gps wp, and took lots of photographs and material available to them.
Since then absolute silence nobody asked for anything more.
The impression is that this story creates more annoyance that interest.
IF it were a relic belonged to the Americans probably p40 and to identify the bones were already in the U.S..
We are total indifference but we continue our work because everyone is a brother in the desert.
With regard to the piece of parachute tell you that if you ask that question means that you've never been to the desert!
The desert has preserved the piece of parachute and was wedged between the rocks near the few bones!
We have notified the grandson of Copping of our findings and we are awaiting response.
Again, history and events of interest to most of us in the forum that authorities and the wreck will continue to be cannibalized for 85 euros a day!
Thanks to all

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the evolution of this story I'm very sorry: the echo of the discovery is passing the indifference of those who should ensure the recovery.
We believe and we continue at our expense and with our effort and passion.
I believe that Sergeant Copping merits at least!
This work, we do it for everyone, every relics that we find in our missions in the desert of Alamein, every burial that we find, devote the same passion
every lost man in the desert war has an history like sgt Copping and we will continue to search him

Thank you qattara.

You say that you never attributed the remains to Copping; just that you found human bones, a piece of parachute and other artefacts. The suggestion and clear inference was that these must be the remains of Copping and it has certainly led many to suppose, not unreasonably on the 'evidence' offered, that the remains of poor Copping had been found.

It is certainly also news that Copping has a grandson.

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but why not take a petition , collecting signatures and sent to the government?
all are sleeping

I'd be surprised if "all are sleeping" qattara.

You above all should know the difficulties of dealing with the Egyptian authorities, particularly at this problematic and transitional period in that country.

I note that you have chosen not to respond to my comments at #1167.

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P40

Andy,

Seem to recall that RAFM were unaware of the existence of the P40 Kittyhawk until Bruce contacted them at the end of April when it was all being discussed on the site. Qattara indicating Ian Thirsk/RAFM were informed in Feb does int seem to stack up though will check with him and Paul Collins.

Qattara have yet to furnish photos of when they discovered her untouched on 12th Feb (before Jakub on 27th Feb). 70 years in the desert and two teams find her within two weeks of each other.

David, as for untouched, I still believe it was. I know it is a lot further from civilisation but North Africa had thousands of tons of war debris and all has been completely removed for scrap. Being a P40 has nothing to do with it - it is just scrap and therefore has some monetary value which would have meant it would have been partially or fully stripped by now if discovered before.

I tend to believe Copping is still out there and still to be found.

Copping does not have a grandson. I am assuming Qattra means he is trying to talk to the grand nephew who is called John.

RAFM/Defence Attache are doing there best but there is so much going on in Egypt at the moment it is not easy.

regards

Mark

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20 years 1 month

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Thats still a big assumption ! There is still WWII relics left in the desert and pictures of the derelict Dove out there shows that not everything gets stripped quickly if indeed at all.

Mark

I concur with what you say.

The date that qattara say they found the P40 pre-dates the apparent discovery by the Polish oil exploration team.

I find the 'discovery' of the parachute relic distinctly odd (and so far from the P40) along with supposed human remains. My information is that Capt Collins has stated in last few days that he does not believe the remains discovered by qattara to be related to Copping. This, after his site visit.

The copper tag from a 127lb container of copper ore, the shirt or fly button and the numbered key tag do not directly point to any connection with the pilot. In his recent post, qattara also talks about coins being found. Unless I missed something, that was news to me. What coins, and where?

The statement about contacting Copping's grandson is palpable nonsense. It would be interesting to know who he says he has talked to, and when.

Whilst qattara presents a wholly altruistic interest, certain things do not quite stack up and need some clarification by qattara.

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Assuming the Egyption authorities give the U.K. permission to remove this aircraft, considering all the damage caused by it crashing, would it be financialy viable to bring it back here, and also the money needed to restore it to even a static display?. There are a number of aircraft here already that cannot be restored due to the lack of finance.
I would have thought, and it's only my opinion, that finding the remains of the pilot would take priority over the restoration of the P40.
At least it would be a partial closure to this unfortunate situation.
Jim.
Lincoln .7

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That's just it Jim. I think everyone would agree with that. First one needs to find human remains, then they need to be identified as belonging to the unfortunate pilot. So far, our Italian friends seem to have found a few human bones, although I, for one, have not seen the evidence. Then we need to do certain tests (eg DNA examination) to link them to a given person. The second should not be too difficult: the problem is the finding of substantial remains.

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Seem to recall that RAFM were unaware of the existence of the P40 Kittyhawk until Bruce contacted them at the end of April

It was well in the public domain by then; I am sure they were well aware of it before I contacted them.

Bruce

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Thats still a big assumption ! There is still WWII relics left in the desert and pictures of the derelict Dove out there shows that not everything gets stripped quickly if indeed at all.

Apologies for thread drift !!! Any photos of the Dove available ??

Planemike

As Laurence says (#1174) the priority is the pilot. The P40 very secondary to that.

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Let's not forget the Italian team provided the concrete evidence of the aircraft's identity. Counts for something surely.
They are well respected, particularly in Italy, for their research in Nth Africa particularly when it comes to MIAs

Dave

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In post 1003 Dobbins linked to some video which was the first I had seen of the Curtiss plate with number 1035. I am not sure who took this video. Who actually identified that plate first?

I have said it before and will say it again, I congratulate Daniele and the others in the Italian team for what they did, and for their work in other aspects of war graves in North Africa, but we are not yet at the final conclusion about the lost pilot.