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The Find of a Lifetime: WWII P-40 Found in Sahara Desert After 70 Years

Written by on Monday, June 4th, 2012

Just about everything on Earth has been found already. If you want to hear about a group of historians or archaeologists who stumble upon some ancient tomb or priceless artifact, then your best shot would be to go watch an Indiana Jones movie. Well, in a scene that looks like it’s right out of one of George Lucas’ famous films, a man unveiled a WWII Kittyhawk P-40 out in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

Jakub Perka, a Polish oil company worker, was trudging through the Sahara Desert 200 miles away from the nearest town when he made the discovery of a lifetime. There, resting almost completely undisturbed for nearly 70 nears, was an almost perfectly intact Kittyhawk P-40, a single-engine fighter that was used by the USAF and the British Royal Air Force during World War II.

The plane wasn’t just in good condition — it was in nearly perfect condition. With the exception of some peeled paint and the damage that the aircraft incurred from the crash, the aircraft has been untouched by the passage of time. Most of the cockpit instruments were still intact and the plane’s .50 caliber Browning machine guns, complete with a supply of ammo, were still in great shape.

WWII historians have been able to determine that this was the crash sight of Flight Sergeant Dennis Copping, an RAF airmen who went MIA in 1942. Copping was ordered to fly a damaged Kittyhawk P-40 to another location for repairs, but he deviated from his course and was never buy antibiotics singapore seen again. Evidence suggests that Copping survived the crash, as there were signs of a makeshift campsite, including a parachute spread across the wings to create shade from the harsh desert sun. It also appears as though he spent time trying to repair the radio, serving a reminder of how terrible it would be to get stuck in the middle of a desert without a phone. No signs of a body have been recovered, so many suspect that Copping tried his luck with the desert and looked for help.

The British government is preparing to recover the aircraft. They intend to display the P-40 in honor of Copping’s memory — wherever he is. In any event, they will need to recover the plane quickly, as Egyptian locals have already begun tearing the plane apart to recover potentially valuable scrap metal. The Egyptian government has also confiscated the plane’s ammunition.

Overall, it’s a bitter-sweet discovery. Many are calling it “the aviation equivalent of King Tutankhaumn’s Tomb,” but it also finally gives a sad answer to the mysterious fate of one lost WWII pilot. Historian Andy Saunders said, “If he died at the side of the plane his remains would have been found. Once he had crashed there, nobody was going to come and get him. It is more likely he tried to walk out of the desert but ended up walking to his death. It is too hideous to contemplate.”

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