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

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So is there a Spitfire out there as well?, going by the banter between Mark 12 and pat1968.

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There was, but it has gone.

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There was, but it has gone.

What happened to it ,does anyone know?

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Elliott,

With respect, you have your sights on the wrong target. As we all know, Peter is very well connected in the vintage aircraft world, and as such gets to know a lot more than those of us on the fringe.

Carrying out a recovery exercise, at a distance, at a sensible commercial rate is always going to be an expensive proposition.

Bruce

I'm sorry Bruce - you are far too accepting what you are being told. I have carried out many aircraft recoveries over the years in the UK and abroad, many of these in remote and difficult areas. I cannot see how this would be equitable with a Spitfire exchange, even at the bargain basement price of £120,000, if that was the value.

£120,000 is a ridiculously high figure for a land based aircraft recovery.

Perhaps this figure was spent, but I would recommend they don't make a habit of it as they do not seem to have a very good business model.

Were the entire team (possibly 100 strong) flown out to the desert by Lear jet? Did daily breakfast in the desert consist of caviar and dom perignon followed by a relaxing foot massage? Who drove the recovery truck? Messrs Tom Hanks and Cruise perhaps on a handsome retainer?

I assure you these figures do not add up in a sensible way and I strongly object to Mark12's insistence on calling this an equitable trade, because it was not.

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From Pat1968; "I, like many others on this forum and more importantly Dennis Coppings family have been unable to get to the bottom of the actions of the RAFM and their agents in this matter as they have avoided accounting for those actions at every juncture using spurious excuses."

I try to keep out of these things but every once in a while there comes a time when I feel it necessary to "jump" in. I find it incredible that people with little of no knowledge of the actual undertakings can be so willing to voice opinions that are not facts.

To set the record straight; Paul Collins, Capt, RN, Defence Attache in Cairo at the time, and without whose help nothing would have ever happened to the Kittyhawk in any reasonable amount of time, if at all, and I met with the family at the Royal Geographic Society for over three hours. During that time we gave a full accounting of all of our actions, the mission, the ins, the outs, the politics, etc. Even the monies involved. We showed them all of 1,800 plus pictures. We assured them that this was not in any way a money making enterprise in any way on our part (I now can assume National Geographic is purely charitable).

We emphasised that our only desire was for the Kittyhawk to be returned to the RAFM and displayed as closely as possible to its situation as found. We emphasised that in our belief it would be a fitting memorial to those who gave their lives in the Desert Campaign, and the Sgt's role in that would be highlighted. Again, our desire and belief was and is that it would be worth the efforts of all involved.

A very detailed summary of the MoD's activities with regard to the Italians and the Egyptians was presented to them. That is not my pew in the church to talk accurately about other than to say they fully accepted the "realities" of the situation.

We entered the meeting as devils incarnate, probably due to the impressions and implications of others. We left as friends, with both the nephew and his wife thanking us for our time and efforts, not just in the desert, but in trying to keep Dennis's memory alive. They offered to help in any way they could. They offered to go to Egypt with us. We, as we have from the beginning, said that our goal was to get the Kittyhawk back to the UK and media attention, in our opinion was not helpful. They reiterated that they were available if we needed their help. We thanked them for this and promised to keep them in touch as progress was made, and to certainly be part of any repatriation.

We were in the desert for four days and three nights. The temperature was over 50 degrees C during the day. Sleeping in tents during the day was unbearable. We worked at night when the temperatures were in the balmy 30-35 degrees C. Every morning and evening, while there was still light, I personally walked around the Kittyhawk in all directions looking for any trace of anything, including the Sgt. I went as far as I could keeping the Kittyhawk in sight. My guess is that this was over a mile in some directions as the terrain was not level and the Kittyhawk could be seen from a good distance in some directions, not far in others. The terrain was difficult to say the least. I was not the only one of the team that did such. We are not all heartless ba*tards.

Comparing the Kittyhawk recovery to any other recovery may be like comparing apples to apples, or apples to crabapples, or apples to oranges. One will never know. My guess is that it is never apples to apples. No two projects are the same. What was a going on at the time in Egypt was unique (once in a hundred years? Thousand?)

Anyone who thinks this project could have been done for less than £120k knows nothing of the realities of the situation. National Geographic may have said they would fund it, but I doubt whether they saw the "quote". Maybe when they saw the "quote" they might have jumped on it. Maybe not. We will never know.

Now, against my better judgement, to put the cat among the pigeons, Kennet Aviation was not the first choice to recover the Kittyhawk. A/the "free" option was certainly number one on the table. Does anyone think the RAFM's executives are that stupid? Clearly some here do, which in my mind is unfair and unreal. The "reality" of it all was that I sat with the DG of the RAFM for over two weeks, while working on another project, waiting for something hard and unrefutable to come through from the free camp. Oh, by the way, there was more than one "free" option. It is amazing how people can be "out of town" so often.

The RAFM was under pressure from those on the ground in Egypt to make a move. The decision was to give the parties one more week to come through with the goods, which were not forthcoming on the Monday deadline. Therefore Kennet Aviation volunteered to and was asked to step in.

Regardless of who went into the desert in July of 2012, my guess is the outcome would be the same. The DA was busy with riots, etc, not Kittyhawks. No one would have made it there before that. My guess is that a professional media organisation would need far more time. Our team was light and nimble and not burdened by camera crews, production people, etc.

The political climate and personnel changed dramatically, between June and October, and all previously negotiated agreements fell off the table. Despite great efforts by many heavyweight people, we are where we are. If anyone thinks that anything that has been said on this Forum re the Kittyhawk has been helpful, I suggest he or she thinks again.

I hope that all this bickering might stop, and all this energy put into supporting the Museum and the family. No now has a monopoly on hindsight. And there seems to be too many personal axes to grind. I apologise if this is seen as an axe. I am sure there will be many arrows.

Thank you for listening.

Respectfully submitted,
Tim Manna
Kennet Aviation

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Desert Spitfire:-"What happened to it, does anyone know?"

I had had the report of this 'Spitfire' with map co-ordinates, going back 25 years or more. The source was a oil company geophysics operation and I suspect that the sighting possibly goes back to the 1960s or even the 1950's.

When investigating the El Alamein Spitfire in 2001 I took professional advice from the then British Defence Attaché. It was in a tricky military area. Mines were still a major political problem and it was a lot of ground to cover before a cheap and fixed flight back to LHR. I passed.

When the the P-40 surfaced well below the Qattara Depression my immediate thoughts were, single engine fighter in British markings...that'll be my 'Spitfire'. Then the co-ordinates were revealed and these two aircraft were many miles apart.

Well of course everybody is your friend when you have this sort of information. I was approached by a major international company, who had got my name from somewhere, to pass over the co-ordinates offering a very large reward, but I declined. Another offer was made whereby I would get a 'drink' out of it and the chance to participate in the recovery. This was much more to my liking and I passed over the information. It progressed to the point that it was confirmed, by some means, that it was a Mk V Spitfire...but progressed no further.

Satellite imagery and scope progressed and the P-40 could clearly be seen on a home computer but nothing could be seen of the Spitfire.

I was happy to pass on the co-ordinates, gratis, to a party that was in the general area and would check it out.

It transpired that there were crash remains at the co-ordinates, just steel detritus and thought to be of mid 1930's origin. Not 1 oz of aluminium. The significant residue was returned to the UK and surprise surprise all the part number on bits of armour plate and the like were Spitfire.

So what was a Spitfire doing so far South of the battle zone? Some fairly extensive research in the UK and the USA points me at a scenario that identifies the Spitfire and the pilot. I am 80% sure but that is not enough to be beyond reasonable doubt. If I am correct it will be another long lost pilot accounted for, as Copping.

Mark

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Many thanks to Tim for putting his side of the story.

Elliott, and again with the greatest of respect; this was done on a commercial basis. Things can be done much cheaper without having a timescale, and without having to have paid personnel to do it. I fully accept the costs of the work done, because I know that if I was to put together a team to so something similar, I would expect it to be at least that expensive.

The 'value' of the Spitfire is to some degree subjective, but it was agreed between the parties. IKennet Aviation performed to the letter of the contract drawn up between the two parties, and are not the bad guys here. I don't actually think there are any bad guys.

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...Crikey ! .. It must be hard work going through life stamping out spot fires regarding ones reputation....Stand tall Mark12

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I assure you these figures do not add up in a sensible way and I strongly object to Mark12's insistence on calling this an equitable trade, because it was not.

Elliott.

You stick with your assumptions, I'll stick with the facts...it was an equitable trade.

You may be interested to know that I am reliably informed that the Wargaming budget of approx $1.2m USD for the Burma expedition seriously over-ran. :)

Mark

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following the Whitley thread a Chinook or two has helped in past recoveries and in other instances on other stories I have read, sort of a brothers in arms type.

I find it hard to fathom how IWM were not able to work round this.

If Copping had been piloting a Spitfire there would have been a stampede to it

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Sorry, where does the IWM come into this, and where do commercially available Chinooks live in Egypt? Please tell me? Oh, and the operating costs per hour of a Chinook, while you are at it.

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I am sorry Whitley_Project, I don't know you or your history. You may be the expert in aircraft recovery. But are you comparing an apple you have been involved with, with this apple?

How you know, "these figures do not add up…" when you don't even know the figures is beyond me. And how, not even knowing the figures, you can give assurance.

Again, my beef with this thread and the Forum in general is the proliferation of unsubstantiated opinions, etc.

And, in all my dealings, Mark12 has been an honest agent and nothing but helpful, and never asked for compensation.

Tim Manna
Kennet Aviation

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Chinook was an merely an example illustration based on other past UK recoveries where the military have assisted that was all, no suggestion I can read in my post of the suggestion of using.a Chinook in this case.

ok Maybe should be RAFM my mistake mea culpa and all that

This thread is getting very predictable now.

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Thanks Mark 12 re the spitfire information and thanks also to SeaDog, it's good to hear the Kennet side of things. Much appreciated.

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Thanks Tim for some much needed background. Well done.

As Bruce has said - really no one should be blamed and all parties appear to have done the best they could in the circumstances, and particularly the local political climate.

Egypt is someone else's sovereign territory - anyone really think that the British military could have been permitted to execute this recovery on behalf of the RAFM? Given what had been going on in Libya next door, and British military involvement there? It's hardly a case of climbing the neighbour's wall and saying "hey mister, can we have our ball back?" It must have required some very careful and gentle negotiations at the time to get the job approved and done without upsetting the Egyptians. I'm actually quite surprised that they gave any permission for a historic artifact to leave the country.

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I highly doubt anyone would have considered sending UK personnel etc over there.

Which was I posed the question about the Egyptian military, maybe they were and refused, but it is done anyway

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The Egyptian military was there, before the recovery team could get to her. They did great damage. Shot at the armour plated windscreen. Punched holes in the wings. Ripped out the ammunition. Broke the perspex and some of the instrument glass, etc. And, somewhere along the line between the first photos and the recovery team's arrival, other things went missing, like the parachute remnants, etc.

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Thanks Tim for the proper and exhaustive explanation.
I really hope that in the future someone will continue the search for Copping!

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Desert Spitfire:-"What happened to it, does anyone know?"

I had had the report of this 'Spitfire' with map co-ordinates, going back 25 years or more. The source was a oil company geophysics operation and I suspect that the sighting possibly goes back to the 1960s or even the 1950's.

When investigating the El Alamein Spitfire in 2001 I took professional advice from the then British Defence Attaché. It was in a tricky military area. Mines were still a major political problem and it was a lot of ground to cover before a cheap and fixed flight back to LHR. I passed.

When the the P-40 surfaced well below the Qattara Depression my immediate thoughts were, single engine fighter in British markings...that'll be my 'Spitfire'. Then the co-ordinates were revealed and these two aircraft were many miles apart.

Well of course everybody is your friend when you have this sort of information. I was approached by a major international company, who had got my name from somewhere, to pass over the co-ordinates offering a very large reward, but I declined. Another offer was made whereby I would get a 'drink' out of it and the chance to participate in the recovery. This was much more to my liking and I passed over the information. It progressed to the point that it was confirmed, by some means, that it was a Mk V Spitfire...but progressed no further.

Satellite imagery and scope progressed and the P-40 could clearly be seen on a home computer but nothing could be seen of the Spitfire.

I was happy to pass on the co-ordinates, gratis, to a party that was in the general area and would check it out.

It transpired that there were crash remains at the co-ordinates, just steel detritus and thought to be of mid 1930's origin. Not 1 oz of aluminium. The significant residue was returned to the UK and surprise surprise all the part number on bits of armour plate and the like were Spitfire.

So what was a Spitfire doing so far South of the battle zone? Some fairly extensive research in the UK and the USA points me at a scenario that identifies the Spitfire and the pilot. I am 80% sure but that is not enough to be beyond reasonable doubt. If I am correct it will be another long lost pilot accounted for, as Copping.

Mark

The steel detritus of a once complete crashed Spitfire in the Western Desert.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%202/Desert%20Tyre%20tracks%20DSC_0974_zpsjctqed80.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%202/DSC_0892_zpsd3lry1b9.jpeg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%202/DSC_0888_zps7pgzwics.jpeg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v634/Mark12/Album%202/DSC_0896_zpszrl0mjrp.jpeg

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wow that's some cottage industry going on there... if we imported them we'd have no land fill sites...

regards,
jack...