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RAF Kittyhawk P-40 uncovered in Egypt

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Very cool find to say the least - especially given it's asserted Canadian connection.

I suspect that the Egyptian authorities will relinquish it quickly and smoothly to the custody of the British.

Can anyone think of a reason as to why they wouldn't?

Original news article.

Discovery of buried warplane puts Canada's aviation buffs on Cloud 9.

A Second World War fighter plane, just discovered in the Egyptian desert 70 years after it was crash-landed there by its British pilot, is generating excitement among vintage aircraft experts in Canada who suspect the long-buried Kittyhawk P-40 — literally unearthed from the sands of time — was once flown by one of this country's great aces in the air battles of North Africa: Saskatchewan-born James "Stocky" Edwards, now 90 and living in Comox, B.C.

Edwards is, in fact, considered to be the "highest scoring" living fighter ace in Canada, credited with 19 "confirmed kills" and many additional damaged and destroyed enemy aircraft on the ground.

His wartime exploits while assigned to the Royal Air Force — like many other Canadian pilots — have been poignantly honoured by Vintage Wings of Canada, the Gatineau, Que.-based aviation heritage organization that restores antique aircraft and flies them at air shows around the country.

Among the group's treasures is its "Stocky Edwards Kittyhawk P-40," which was acquired from New Zealand but restored and painted to match the markings of Edwards' principal aircraft during the Desert War: a fighter plane identified as RAF 260 Squadron's HS-B.

Remarkably, the Second World War relic discovered in March by an oil worker travelling in a remote part of the Sahara Desert was marked with the same identifier: HS-B.

Vintage Wings spokesman Dave O'Malley told Postmedia News on Friday that the newly discovered aircraft is definitely not the same plane Edwards is best known for flying in Africa, because that P-40 was not lost during the war.

However, the group believes the newly discovered P-40 might be the plane Edwards was piloting before it vanished in June 1942 — while being flown by a British pilot to an Allied aircraft depot for landing gear repairs — and which subsequently was replaced by the successor "HS-B" that became closely associated with Edwards as his "personal" Kittyhawk fighter.

It's believed the British pilot who crash-landed the earlier HS-B — RAF Flight Sgt. Dennis Copping — was forced down in the desert after being hit by enemy fire.

Copping is believed to have survived the landing before dying in the desert. He was reported missing and presumed dead at the time; the plane he was ferrying for repairs was written off as lost.

O'Malley said news of the aircraft's discovery in western Egypt — which "went viral" in aviation history forums just before April 1 — initially was treated skeptically by Vintage Wings officials.

"There was a lot of discussion about whether this was just an April Fool's joke," said O'Malley, adding that fresh discoveries of well-preserved aircraft from the 1939-45 war are "extremely rare."

But when Polish oil company worker Jakub Perka, the man credited with the discovery, posted dozens of high-resolution pictures to a photo-sharing website, O'Malley and others began examining the aircraft and determined it was a genuine lost-and-found relic of the Desert War — with a tantalizing Canadian connection.

"It seems possible that Stocky Edwards did fly it," O'Malley has written at the group's website. "To say we at Vintage Wings are excited by this is an understatement."

In Britain, military heritage experts are equally excited but also concerned about the future of the P-40 "time capsule" because it appears to have suffered some vandalism damage even in the few weeks since it was found.

U.K. officials are also reported to be considering a search for Copping's remains.

British historian Andy Saunders said this week that "the aviation historical world is hugely excited about this discovery" but warned that the British defence ministry "needs to act and get the plane out of there as soon as possible rather than embarking upon a great deal of hand-wringing and meetings to discuss its future."

O'Malley said he applauds suggestions that the plane be transported to a British museum — unrestored, filled with sand — to give visitors a vivid sense of the perils of the North Africa Campaign waged by Allied forces.

O'Malley said a Google Earth view of the "chunk of desert" in which the plane was found makes clear how it could have remained undetected for 70 years.

The P-40 was probably covered in sand for much of that time, he said, only intermittently appearing at the surface of the shifting, windblown desert.

"This is an entire state, a government section of Egypt that's as big as Kansas," said O'Malley. "There's nothing — absolutely nothing — out there. There'd be no reason why anybody would be wandering about there."

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