Sunday, April 15, 2012

magic beans, Spitfires, etc

Look what he's up to now. It's amazing how common the "that hillside is full of warbirds/jeeps/whatever" story is, and how geographically widespread. I worked on a north-west Australian cattle station that included an abandoned WW2 airfield, and more than a couple of people had wasted time and money digging into bits of it looking for them.

Near my dad's home town in Hertfordshire, there was an old 8th Air Force base and relatives of mine knew about people who claimed there were whole P-38s, motorbikes, trucks, jeeps etc buried, although the status of the story was "you don't want to listen to old Stick, he'll believe anything". Oddly enough, if they waited long enough they were almost right, because the Americans continued to use part of the site, and allegedly some of it was used for something spooky during Iran-Contra. There are similar stories I'm aware of about a couple of places in Yorkshire.

I presume it goes back to genuine tales of how much surplus kit there was sloshing about, and how much of it was basically thrown away, and perhaps to a deeper awareness of the wastefulness of war. It's also very similar to the cargo cult - like the intersection of buried treasure and cargo cultism.


Anonymous said...

When the Dutch were faced with a very large pile of broken US airplanes in Papua in 1945, they tried a novel solution to the problem: comb relevant rechnicians from the interned collaborators, and give them a 2-year forced labour indenture to sort them out, and rehabilitate themselves.

Bonus irony: "Let's colonise Papua!" was one of the pet policies of the Dutch fascists prewar. Arf arf.

Outcome: a few hundred people sat in a jungle for a couple of years, tinkering.

Chris Williams

Dan said...

This is why Landrovers are made largely of aluminium; they were invented and built in numbers just after world war 2, when good steel was rare and expensive, but when scrap aluminium from surplus aircraft was cheap and plentiful. Landrovers were thus coach-built on a steel ladder frame with largely aluminium body panels.

This accounts for their astonishing longevity; aluminium doesn't rust. About 75% of all the Landrovers ever built are still usable.

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