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Sun, Jan 07, 2018

RAF Chapped Over P-40 Kittyhawk Restoration

Aircraft Was Found In The African Desert After 70 Years

The restoration of an RAF P-40 Kittyhawk that was found in the African desert is causing a great deal of consternation among aviation historians, but there is apparently nothing that can be done.

The U.K. news paper The Telegraph reports that the airplane was found in May, 2012 by Polish oil company worker Jakub Perka, who was on an expedition in Al Wadi al Jadidi, 200 miles from the nearest town. He came across the airplane which had been crash-landed some 70 years earlier. It was considered to be in "time capsule condition," according to the report.

Along with the airplane, a crude shelter made of the pilot's parachute was discovered at the site, suggesting that Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping had survived the accident but later died of exposure in the desert. His body was never found.

The airplane was restored and put on display at  El Alamein Military Museum, south-west of Alexandria, but the restoration is described as "truly awful and unsympathetic" to Sgt. Copping. It has been painted partially in yellow called "garish' and now sports shark's teeth on the engine cowling. While some P-40s were painted in such a way, this one was not.

Andy Saunders, editor of Britain at War Magazine, said that the airplane should have been left in the condition in which is as found. There is no mention of Dennis Copping on display with the airplane.

The museum said that the airplane was recovered to save it from looters. It is legally the property of Egypt, and the U.K. has no claim on the airplane.

To add insult to injury, the RAF Museum at Hendon, north London gave away a rare Spitfire from its collection trying to bring the Kittyhawk back to Britain. That effort was unsuccessful, and the whereabouts of the Spitfire are unknown.  

(Image from file)

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