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

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  • TonyL1962
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Mar 2014
    • 84

    I seem to recall a figure of 120 000 pounds being bandied about, either earlier in this thread or in one of the papers, as the value of the spitfire. I would expect that to be about right to organise the extraction of the aircraft at short notice in remote, difficult and hostile terrain in Africa.

    Thanks Mark12 for those interesting insights to the process that had been set up in 2012. I would say that no blame should be leveled at the RAF Museum - someone had to put something in process for someone to put up the money to get the plane out before it was stripped, and without cash themselves the RAF Museum (and other British participants, with Egyptian help) had the balls to get on and do just that. The end result (as Mark12 said) is that a Mk 22 spitfire will be rebuilt and put back into the air rather than sitting on a shelf in a store, and the jury is still out on the future of the P-40 - but it hasn't gone for scrap or souvenirs. Well done to all involved I would suggest, even if it never ends up in the UK!

    Comment

    • Moggy C
      Moderator
      • Jan 2000
      • 20534

      A simple contract condition that the Spitfire would be handed over once the P40 was in the UK would have been a commercially advisable.

      But this with the benefit of hindsight.

      Moggy
      "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

      Comment

      • TonyL1962
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Mar 2014
        • 84

        Not quite as simple as that - to get anyone (i.e. a contractor) to provide the vehicles, people, petrol and other stores at that point way out in the desert (not to mention the local bureaucratic approval to ensure your gear is not impounded or held up), would require a very hefty mobilisation fee. No contractor would move otherwise. So someone would have to actually provide cash up front - would Kennet aviation do this without the guarantee of the spitfire? I doubt it - I wouldn't! So the RAF Museum (or someone) had to take a gamble on it all panning out right - and in this instance they lost. No one would be complaining now if it had been Kennet aviation who had taken the risk and had lost money in the process. But as it is the RAF Museum who took the gamble and lost, they end up getting a public kicking.

        Comment

        • mmitch
          Member
          • Mar 2003
          • 1753

          Meanwhile Sgt. Coppins is still in the desert. Nobody looks for him....
          mmitch.

          Comment

          • Thunderbird167
            607 Squadron & NELSAM
            • Sep 2005
            • 1008

            Originally posted by mmitch View Post
            Meanwhile Sgt. Coppins is still in the desert. Nobody looks for him....
            mmitch.
            Searches have been carried out without success, but at the end of the day we have to be practical.

            Sadly there are many from our armed forces that will never be recovered for a variety of reasons and I think Sgt Copping may become one of those

            I personally have relatives that died in combat and have no known grave.

            I am grateful that their service is recorded on several memorials and do not expect the search to continue

            As I have said previously it is time to move on until there is more concrete news
            Dave Charles
            Historian 607 (County of Durham) Squadron
            Chair North East Land Sea Air Museums (NELSAM)

            Comment

            • mmitch
              Member
              • Mar 2003
              • 1753

              Several forumites tried via our MPs to get something done through the embassy out there 4 years ago.
              All we got were letters saying nothing was found although at the time the bones the Italians had found
              were still in the desert. Then the 'Arab spring' reached that area. Didn't stop the P40 recovery though....
              mmitch.

              Comment

              • snibble
                Rank 5 Registered User
                • Mar 2015
                • 122

                I thing Sgt Coppins is beyond caring.

                "Better by far
                For Johnny-the-bright-star,
                To keep your head,
                And see his children fed."

                Comment

                • John Green
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Mar 2011
                  • 6643

                  Originally posted by TonyL1962 View Post
                  Not quite as simple as that - to get anyone (i.e. a contractor) to provide the vehicles, people, petrol and other stores at that point way out in the desert (not to mention the local bureaucratic approval to ensure your gear is not impounded or held up), would require a very hefty mobilisation fee. No contractor would move otherwise. So someone would have to actually provide cash up front - would Kennet aviation do this without the guarantee of the spitfire? I doubt it - I wouldn't! So the RAF Museum (or someone) had to take a gamble on it all panning out right - and in this instance they lost. No one would be complaining now if it had been Kennet aviation who had taken the risk and had lost money in the process. But as it is the RAF Museum who took the gamble and lost, they end up getting a public kicking.
                  It is quite as simple as that ! What the parties needed was someone knowledgeable about trade contracts. No one needed cash. What was needed were simple bank guarantees. In other words performance bonds.

                  Comment

                  • TonyL1962
                    Rank 5 Registered User
                    • Mar 2014
                    • 84

                    Well, Mmitch, maybe things are stable enough now in that part of Egypt (and also the part of Libya immediately West) that it is worth getting onto MPs again and seeing if something further can be done now. The remains will presumably still be there - or if those are not his then it becomes safer to carry out a much wider search.

                    I suppose the question is who would be responsible for recovery of his remains, or for widening the search for them.

                    My guess is that at the time the plane was recovered it was a readily definable job, in terms of get in, get the plane, get out, including relatively simple bureaucracy - it needed to be done quickly, and also was within the remit of what the RAF museum should be doing (i.e. acquiring an aircraft). Body recovery does not fall within their remit, and could easily have cost another spitfire, if an extensive search was to be funded - but wasn't really their bill to pick up.

                    As I understand it from what has been said a limited further search was made, within time available on site. But a full search would require different personnel, different appropriate equipment for the terrain, and it's own budget/funding. Sorry if I sound very capitalist here, but sadly it is the way it works - and Britain does not have the same MIA set up as some other nations. But I think this has been said many times before in this thread....

                    Comment

                    • DaveF68
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Jun 2004
                      • 1791

                      Originally posted by TonyL1962 View Post
                      But as it is the RAF Museum who took the gamble and lost, they end up getting a public kicking.
                      They end up getting the kicking because their PR on this has been terrible - we had Kennet doing talks about the recovery and receiving the mk 22 without a word from the RAFM, the first official confirmation that they had anything to do with the P-40 was the planning application to convert the theatre. Then sometime later a little piece in the 13/14 Annual Report and then when the disposals committee minutes were put online last August

                      The information that Mark12 gives above has never been in the public domain until now as far as I'm aware. It does cast a new light on these aspects of the affair.
                      Last edited by DaveF68; 8th January 2016, 12:56.

                      Comment

                      • stuart gowans
                        Not a real Spitfire
                        • Dec 2005
                        • 2005

                        Whilst in theory the Spitfire may have been "public property" (in a sense) in reality nothing we do as individuals (or even small groups) would have any effect on the RAFM, and so in all probability it would remain in store never to be seen.

                        If the arrangement had been a financial one where the RAFM paid Kennet for the recovery, and then allowed them to purchase said Spitfire at market value, I suspect the value of the recovery would somehow equal the value of the Spitfire; so what difference would that make? we would have an element of transparency, perhaps we could have argued that the Spitfire was under valued, or else the cost of recovery was too steep, but nothing would change in real terms, and Kennet surely cannot be held responsible for the transit of the container, or indeed the turmoil that enveloped the country.

                        As to where the P40 is now, I'm not sure anyone on this forum knows, but if it is in the USA then better there than Egypt.
                        Why be your own worse critic, that's what the forum is for.

                        Comment

                        • DaveF68
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Jun 2004
                          • 1791

                          Originally posted by Thunderbird167 View Post

                          Not all deals go as planned, are we any nearer seeing the arrival of the Havoc which I believe was part of the previous Spitfire swap ?

                          If you go back to August, there was a minute of the Disposals committee which suggeste dthe Havoc swap did not go ahead. Note that RW393 is now at Hendon

                          http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/document..._Committee.pdf

                          These minutes don't appear to be linked on the RAFM website anymore
                          Last edited by DaveF68; 8th January 2016, 13:12.

                          Comment

                          • jack windsor
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Dec 2008
                            • 923

                            Originally posted by Thunderbird167 View Post
                            Searches have been carried out without success, but at the end of the day we have to be practical.

                            Sadly there are many from our armed forces that will never be recovered for a variety of reasons and I think Sgt Copping may become one of those

                            I personally have relatives that died in combat and have no known grave.

                            I am grateful that their service is recorded on several memorials and do not expect the search to continue

                            As I have said previously it is time to move on until there is more concrete news
                            Quite so, but I think the main difference in this case is that there was some evidence as to the location of some remains, we all know there's thousands missing on the western front but no one can say "here's the location", to any of them, although if you dig any where in the Somme area your bound to get remains as we've seen on tv programmes. In the desert its a different scenario. My wife lost a uncle at Arnhem but he was never found although his death site is known to the inch... my point is a greater effort should/could have been made at the discovery time, argue about the arab spring difficulties but the aircraft was recovered in the same difficulties...

                            regards,
                            jack...

                            Comment

                            • Bruce
                              Independent analyst
                              • Jan 2000
                              • 10226

                              I think we need to be a little sensitive here - regardless of their remit, the team that dismantled the aircraft - in a very remote location, with a 2 hr+ drive to and from the nearest village did look for the remains of the pilot. No remains were found in the immediate vicinity of the aircraft. How far does one have to go before it becomes untenable?

                              There seems to be an assumption that the remains should be obvious, or easily identifiable, when we have no idea what happened to the poor chap. There are many possible scenarios, and we have no idea where to start.
                              Last edited by Bruce; 8th January 2016, 13:19.

                              Comment

                              • Bruce
                                Independent analyst
                                • Jan 2000
                                • 10226

                                Originally posted by stuart gowans View Post
                                As to where the P40 is now, I'm not sure anyone on this forum knows, but if it is in the USA then better there than Egypt.
                                On the contrary - I am quite sure that there a number of people reading this that know exactly where it is, and that there are others trying to find out...

                                Comment

                                • jeepman
                                  infrequent poster now
                                  • Apr 2004
                                  • 1986

                                  Originally posted by DaveF68 View Post
                                  If you go back to August, there was a minute of the Disposals committee which suggeste dthe Havoc swap did not go ahead. Note that RW393 is now at Hendon

                                  http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/document..._Committee.pdf

                                  These minutes don't appear to be linked on the RAFM website anymore
                                  Those minutes (as well as those of the Senior Management Team) were only uploaded after I pointed out to the museum that although they were listed in the RAFM Freedom of Information Act Publication Scheme as being available on the RAFM website, this was not the case.

                                  Subsequently I was informed that as the Trustees were ultimately responsible for matters relating to the Museum, it would be their minutes that would instead be published in summary form rather than those of the two previously named committees. Summaries of the Trustee meetings are available here

                                  http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/about-us...summaries.aspx
                                  Last edited by jeepman; 8th January 2016, 13:49.
                                  JM

                                  Comment

                                  • David Burke
                                    Rank 5 Registered User
                                    • Jan 2000
                                    • 10031

                                    'I'm not sure anyone on this forum knows, but if it is in the USA then better there than Egypt.'

                                    Is this not the same as 'Johnny Foreigner' is massively corrupt and were not !

                                    The aircraft was quite happily minding his own business out in the desert. It was Polish workers who 'discovered' it and made it the internet sensation. I imagine if they hadn't been wandering round and found it -we would be none the wiser.

                                    By recovering it - generating massive amounts of publicity surely its only human nature that people with large cheque books would show more than a passing interest.
                                    That is a feature of anything found of value - personally I would have prefered it remain in Egypt and be put on display in a purpose built facility.

                                    Comment

                                    • Moggy C
                                      Moderator
                                      • Jan 2000
                                      • 20534

                                      Originally posted by TonyL1962 View Post
                                      So someone would have to actually provide cash up front - would Kennet aviation do this without the guarantee of the spitfire? I doubt it - I wouldn't! So the RAF Museum (or someone) had to take a gamble on it all panning out right
                                      The RAFM could of course have set up a deal with a company wanting to make a TV programme on the recovery. Not an unusual procedure for this sort of archaeology.

                                      Moggy
                                      "What you must remember" Flip said "is that nine-tenths of Cattermole's charm lies beneath the surface." Many agreed.

                                      Comment

                                      • pat1968
                                        Rank 5 Registered User
                                        • Apr 2004
                                        • 260

                                        I hesitate to wade into this yet again but for what its worth.

                                        Originally posted by Moggy C View Post
                                        The RAFM could of course have set up a deal with a company wanting to make a TV programme on the recovery. Not an unusual procedure for this sort of archaeology.

                                        Moggy
                                        That was a very real possibility that would have cost the RAFM nothing. It was being discussed and those discussions were at an advanced stage. The RAFM was certainly aware of this at every stage of those discussions because i spoke to the then Head of the RAFM about it personally on a number of occasions by phone. I also followed up via email, i specifically drew their attention to the risk of negative PR if it was handled badly. Personally whilst those discussions took place i do not believe that the RAFM ever had any real intention to explore this avenue. The only caveat was that the crash site would need to be forensically investigated and documented so that any evidence as to the whereabouts of Dennis Copping would be preserved. I was told that the RAFM were not interested in the Pilot and that this was an issue for the MOD. That was clarified with the statement that we are interested as he was in the RAF but that is not their area i.e. the recovery of fallen servicemen. As for the reasons for this you will have to ask others about that.

                                        Whilst i am on the subject. I have no issue per se with the deal that was struck with Kennet aviation from their perspective. If i had been offered that deal i would have taken it. As far as the RAFM is concerned I do not see how the recovery cost 120K. This was basically dismantling an aircraft (in remote and fairly hostile environment granted) loading of the aircraft into a container and transport to El Alamein. Having carried out a recovery in similar circumstances for a fraction of this cost I struggle to understand where that money was spent. If it was frankly it could have been done for less.
                                        Last edited by pat1968; 8th January 2016, 15:59.
                                        "Only the dead see the end of the war" Plato

                                        www.hawkerhind.com

                                        Comment

                                        • stuart gowans
                                          Not a real Spitfire
                                          • Dec 2005
                                          • 2005

                                          "Is this not the same as 'Johnny Foreigner' is massively corrupt and were not" !


                                          Well I don't see it that way; the term "johnny foreigner" could as easily apply to an American as an Egyptian, the Americans have had their civil war, and they quite like P40's, it wont be smashed up with axes and swords on a youtube video just for the hell of it.

                                          It may have been relatively safe in the desert, but that was then, this is now, and factions in that general area don't have a whole lot of love for us westerners or symbols of our " military/colonial past" obviously it would be better at the RAFM, but that isn't to say that it wont be wrestled from the grasp of it's current custodian some point in the future (if indeed it is actually stateside)

                                          Bruce, presumably your statement needs to be filed under the heading "I know more than I can tell" because I certainly don't know where it is!
                                          Last edited by stuart gowans; 8th January 2016, 16:53.
                                          Why be your own worse critic, that's what the forum is for.

                                          Comment

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