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

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A good summary Peter.

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To help clear up one point...."last year" means 2017 (as in when the Egyptian Government informed the RAF Museum that they intended to keep
the aircraft) as the press office gave us the statement knowing the story was going to be published after New Year ie in 2018.

In terms of whose legal property it is...the RAF Museum said it was Egypt's as it crashed on Egyptian soil...I haven't checked that with an international law expert

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Mark 12 - Now that we are aware of your desert skills and things have got a bit calmer - Syrian F.22's ?

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In view of the thought expressed above that it might, in fact, be due for return to the US under Lend-Lease maybe someone should tweet Donald Trump and tell him the Egyptians have one of his aircraft?

Moggy

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Maybe you'll do that Moggy, and let us know the result...

Off track, but in response to Mark 12's remarks about the El Alamein Spitfire. Do you mean the one that is mainly a forward fuselage on a sort of hospital bed?

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/1951055

If so, I thought it was QJ-E (? serial) as illustrated here:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Crashed_Spitfire_92_Sqn_near_El_Alamein_1942.jpg

The bends in the prop look the same. Or am I wrong?

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If so, I thought it was QJ-E (? serial) as illustrated here:

Laurence,

No, it is BR491 QJ-Q. This was a a recovery from the sea by the Egyptian Navy.

The entry from the 'boo' following extensive study of the ORB's in the National Archive.

On arrival BR491 was prepared for service – possibly by No. 103 M.U. at Abu Sueir,
Egypt – issued to No. 92 Sqdn and coded ―QJ-Q. 92 Sqdn had left England for the Middle East
in February 1942, but lack of aircraft had delegated the Squadron to maintenance duties. Its first
Spitfires arrived in August 1942 and were used for fighter sweeps and bomber escort missions,
pushing Rommel back Westward towards Tunisia before transferring to Malta in June 1943.
By 5 August 1942 No. 92 Sqdn was established at L.G.173, a satellite of L.G.92, and
had joined No. 244 Wing under Wg Cdr Love as part of 211 Group, commanded by Gp Capt
Carter. A week later with twenty-two Spitfires, the majority of them Mk.Vc‘s, and nineteen pilots,
the Squadron was fully operational. On 19 August its pilots shot down four Me109F‘s confirmed,
probably destroying four and damaging four more, all in one patrol.

BR491 was probably one of the squadron‘s first new Spitfires but its operational career
was relatively short. It was being flown by W/O Lloyd George Edwards (RCAF) and returning
from a ground-attack mission when it was ditched in the sea off El Daba, some 145 km west of
Alexandria, on 10 October 1942 – just 13 days before the start of the battle of El Alamein – being
declared Cat. C3. W/O Edwards drowned and was buried in the Alexandria (Hedra) War
Memorial Cemetery.

Mark

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Thanks Mark. That's clear now! Back to the P-40.

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Mark 12 - Now that we are aware of your desert skills and things have got a bit calmer - Syrian F.22's ?

I am open minded. Look what was parked out in the desert in Iraq.

As with Burma I would not be surprised if something turns up.

Certainly nothing visible from the road when I was there. :)

Mark

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This forum would have a great capacity for good, if the users could only resist the urge to have a pop at each other and instead work together towards their common goals. I’m not seeking to score points by sniping at folk or point the finger at the bad guys. I do though, think there is something to be gained by joining the dots with the new information we have and looking at what and where things actually went wrong.

I think we would do well to stop pointing the blame at the coup in Egypt and using that as an excuse for everything. Read Robin’s post. There was never a deal with Egypt on the plane returning to the UK. The RAFM may have had an aspiration for it to come here, but nothing in that detailed post shows that there was ever any such deal. The coup did not therefore change the deal (although it doubtless would have affected later making a deal).

The negotiations for where the plane finally ended were slated to begin after the plane was recovered. Think on that for a moment. It was evidently easier to arrange release of a spitfire, engage a UK group to do the job, get them over and on the ground in the desert, disassemble and deliver the plane to “storage” than it was to negotiate where it was to finally rest. Indeed it may have been that a full agreement designed to give ownership of the plane to the RAFM (and not El Alamein) could have caused enough turmoil to stop the recovery in it’s tracks.

The question we should all be asking is “what happened to phase two?” The RAFM having already strongly indicated there would be difficult negotiations ahead must have had some kind of strategy, so what was that and what happened? All I picked up in Robin’s docs were an indication that having been safely stored, the P40 ought to be unpacked and rebuilt at/by RAFM. I hope there was a little more to it than that.

Was there any attempt to offer the Egyptians money for what they considered their P40 in their desert? What sum would be appropriate and would there be any appetite in the UK for more British pounds to be spent on what many here already considered to be an aircraft owned by Britain?

The coup happened, and then the P40 remained in Egypt for another year, then another, then another…………nobody really gave it much thought did they? Was there a public clamour in the press or anywhere else ( on here ?) to raise public money or secure lottery funds?

Was anyone actually watching the plane or alerting folk when the RAFM gave up? Did anyone really give a damn until some tourist photographed the rebuild and posted it online?
Bottom line, if you really care that much about how it looks now, then you probably missed your chance to do much about it. How about raising the funds to purchase the plane? I suggest the Sun newspaper may have a good chance at this.

Or we could all just bash the Egyptians who have done what they wanted with their museum’s own plane within their means in a very troubled country.

If anyone has any doubts about what probably would have happened to the P40, having willingly left it in the hands of the El Alamein Museum, please take note of this remark on a website review of the place (disclaimer – I’m not knocking the staff at that museum who have different priorities and funding to say, RAFM or IWM and work in an entirely different environment. This was one of many similar remarks found in a few seconds of searching. Conditions there can not have been a secret to anyone from Kennet or RAFM who went there).

“….. Outside there are lots of tanks, armoured cars & gun + what's left of a shot-down Spitfire - the problem is that somebody bought a job lot of khaki-coloured paint, and has spray-painted everything (badly) the same colour! Naff cafe. “

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Was there a public clamour in the press or anywhere else ( on here ?) to raise public money or secure lottery funds?

There was no clamour because we were told nothing (not that it would be expected) and mostly (well at least I did) thought the RAFM had it in hand as best as possible and would eventually negotiate its passage to the UK

No point in raising money now. That shambles might just as well stay where it is.

I wonder - Post Vulcan - what the public's view of fund raising / lottery funding for an aircraft might be?

A Flt Sgt Copping plaque next to the aircraft? I'd subscribe to that.

Moggy

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The RAFM definitely come out with egg on their face. The options were to leave it there, recover it to display in the UK, recover it and sell on the open market, or recover it and leave it to the Egyptians. The last option was arguably the worse? On the first option I have no idea how accessible it actually was and how long it would have remained in tact? Surely the RAFM would not have funded the Kennett expedition if these was no expectation of it being placed on display in the UK???? Of course they may have had a verbal agreement before the regime changed? What ever the outcome lets hope that the RAFM has learnt something by this episode?

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Recover and sell, and recover to the UK I doubt were ever a real possibility, as said before, Egypts restrictions on exporting items of historic value were always the problem, and still are and always will be tough

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. but the comparison between the P40 and the P38 wasn't one of condition, but one of safety, and at the moment the P38 is safest, as it is back under the sand.

Oh yeah, that is an option no one thought of obviously, shame on them. What the recovery team should have done, was dig a trench in the sand and bury the P-40, that would have ensured its safety.

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All,

Having done a few hundred hour of research on Copping's P40, only know do I feel like commenting.

It had to be recovered otherwise there would be nothing left.
A P40 swap with the RAFM example would have been the best option but who would have agreed to this on the Egyptian side _ I have no idea.
Whats been done is criminal. It is what it is.
That said, its even worse how it has been finished (I am not saying restored).
Hated fictitious sharks mouth schemes - even more so now.
It staying in Egypt is acceptable - if they had displayed her unrestored/protected.
Secondly, it would have been a 1% improvement if they had finished her as Copping's aircraft. It had been published. Profile artist Juanita Franzi completed one for my for my article after going through numerous photos. Therefore it was available.
Don't know what else to say. Totally dejected.
To me its the equivalent is adding a bit of paper mache and acrylic paint to a Pharaoh death mask.

Mark
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I don’t believe the Egyptian restrictions on exports of antiquities would impact on the P40 coming here. They cover antiquities from prehistoric times up until 100 years ago and they cover those things from Egyptian civilisations. Someone has explained on here before that second world war stuff is regarded by the locals as so much scrap metal?

In that light is surprising that Egypt would want to retain this plane at all. It’s an extra exhibit in their museum, but not really a crucial part of their own national history. In it’s present form it goes well alongside the badly painted tanks and guns in that museum. However, it’s monetary value was certainly higher in it’s crashed (time capsule) state that the new “stage-prop” look. They could have had it properly restored and gained value for resale in future decades or swapped it for something already more complete and famous (it seems that Spitfires are casually passed about like currency in the West?)

So why was it so hard to negotiate transfer of this plane to the UK? I would love to know the story there. Was their price too high, or were they keen to demonstrate some kind of point to us?

I understand Moggy’s belief that the plane was eventually coming our way, hence any lack of public campaign for it arrive here. However, that the plane was to come to the UK was only ever an “aspiration” of the RAFM. Nobody ever announced on this forum that the P40 was actually coming. Way back in 2012 Qattara posted prophetically that the plane would remain at El Alamein Museum and end up painted the same yellow as the other exhibits!. The forum was locked with regard to the P40 outcome for over a year, with the hint that discussions were ongoing and that folk here knew what was going on behind the scenes and careless talk could wreck that. As the months passed and the P40 did not arrive, more and more forum members asked about the plane and predicted things had gone wrong, but the forum demanded silence and posts on this matter were locked or deleted.

Evidently at some point the negotiations stalled or failed totally. At the time the forum was originally locked, some folk here hinted to have information that things were afoot behind the scenes and we should keep quiet. It is therefore quite a surprise that no one warned us that this final “shambles” happened until some tourist snapped the P40 in a totally rebuilt/ruined state.

Now that the negotiations have evidently totally failed, it would be nice to know what happened, would it not? Is anyone prepared to finally break a confidence over this matter?

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I find it hard to see why people on this forum should have considered it any form of done deal that the RAFM got this aircraft, or that it was still considered 'British owned'.

Think about it. Let's say an intact FW 190 is located tomorrow in one of Thames Water's reservoirs west of London by a couple of sports divers, and a German museum is keen to get it as it fills gaps in their collections - should it by right go to Germany? Is it still theirs? Do they even have a right to come to the UK and organise a recovery? I think I can say with complete certainty that Germany has no claim to it and everyone on this forum would expect it to stay in the UK and go to a UK museum and there would be an uproar if it didn't and it was handed over to Germany. Why is anything expected to be different in Egypt?

And if you think the situation is different because Britain was at war with Germany at the time, think up any other example of a foreign nation having lost something in Britain some time ago (consider the rights around shipwrecks for example). Do they still own it and have any right to it? I don't necessarily think so.

I repeat what I said before - good on the RAFM for taking a long shot on a possible acquisition and funding a recovery of the Kittyhawk to a safe location. I don't think that further explanations are required. And the world is going to see a late model spitfire restored, rather than it sitting on a shelf in a warehouse - a plus I would say.

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Oh yeah, that is an option no one thought of obviously, shame on them. What the recovery team should have done, was dig a trench in the sand and bury the P-40, that would have ensured its safety

You know I think you may be on to something there......... because, lets face it if they had have done that, it wouldn't have been completely butchered would it?

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Well you could have at least lent them your crystal ball prior to them leaving for the wreck site.

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Dave, soon after the announcement of the discovery of Copping's Kittyhawk further damage had been down to the aircraft. Its location was known and there was nothing to stop people from visiting it to claim their souvenir or take a few pot-shots at it.

Do you want to explain why you think the aircraft would have been left alone as a perfect time capsule against all the evidence to the contrary in the long grim history of plundering wrecks?

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Supermarine, read my posts, starting a few pages back - I agree with you totally, the RAFM did the right thing by recovering it ASAP. They had no idea how things would end up, hence the 'crystal ball' reference.