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

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  • SimonDav
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • May 2007
    • 152

    I think the fuselage was twisted slightly during landing, which probably caused the hatch to spring open, and because its out of true and at an angle you can't see the opening behind it.

    Comment

    • Mike J
      Senior Member
      • Jan 2000
      • 3241

      Originally posted by mackerel
      Well serial no ends in 8 !

      Steve
      And begins with R, perhaps?

      Comment

      • Mark_pilkington
        Rank 9999 Registered User
        • Jun 2004
        • 1791

        Originally posted by Ian Hunt
        If that's a lifted-up hatch in the position where the fuselage roundel (?) is, isn't it odd that there seems to be no opening visible behind it? And was there a hatch in the side of the P40 in the position where the roundel was usually painted? Above the wing trailing edge fairing?

        Originally posted by SimonDav
        I think the fuselage was twisted slightly during landing, which probably caused the hatch to spring open, and because its out of true and at an angle you can't see the opening behind it.
        I would agree with Simon - the hinge line at the top exposes a portion of the hatch opening underneath it at the RHS, surely a modeller creating a hoax wouldnt provide that level of detail there, and then intentionally leave out the opening lower down.

        I havent seen any comments here or on WIX from experienced P-40 restorers suggesting any "errors" in the visible structure etc, and I understand from comments in either this or the WIX thread that the design of the hatch latching complies with a known airframe mod?

        I consider you couldnt recreate that fuselage side detail without making a rather large mockup, not neccessarily full scale but a significant large scale, and there is first the issue of accurately re-creating the detailed structure of skin and rivet lines, and then creating the detailed weathering of the surfaces after that.

        And as most others state, the cockpit seems far to detailed to be anything but a real one.




        I agree with others that the open/close state of the canopy may have changed many times due to nomadic visitors to the wreck, even though it seems untouched by souvenir /scrap/village pilfering etc, that probably reflects its remoteness and difficulty of access.

        If real its been sitting where it is for the last 70 years, apparantly bellylanding into deeper sand than is currently present given the rocky ground, but over that time it could have been exposed to the elements or buried in sand for considerable periods of time.

        Assuming the canopy was closed and intact for any extended periods of burial, the lack of significant sand in the cockpit might be a result of the closed canopy?

        The cockpit photo doesnt prove the cockpit floor isnt knee deep in sand, and we dont know what underbelly damage exists aft of the wing to allow sand to easily enter and exit the cockpit as the fuselage is exposed or entombed?
        (The photo above suggests lower fuselage damage below the hatch and aft of the wing root fillet)

        However the preserved fuselage paint on one side might simply reflect the direction its facing providing protection from the prevailing wind direction of sand blasting or simply weathering of sun and rain, and the fuselage may never have been fully buried to risk the cockpit filling up in anycase.

        The first 3 photos are not brilliant photography but then these are apparantly taken by a geologist/surveyor etc who is not neccessarily interested in aviation, and who is probably not out with a high quality camera, as would be on a tourist trip or airshow flightline photo opportunity.

        And most likely he's not an aircraft enthusiast enthralled by the historic and significant wreck in front of him, if these same photos were of a crashed DC-3 in the Sahara would we expect him to be taking photos of the serial numbers and data plates?

        We are all assuming they are recent digital photos implying the ability to snap off a few hundred without concern, as against a roll film camera of 10 years ago where cost and interest in the topic dictates the exposures taken.

        But even if they are digital from an SLR versus a mobile phone, taking photos in the middle of the Sahara is taxing your battery and you may not wish to waste that on this one wreck? etc

        Finally as I understand it, the discoverer of the airframe is not the person posting the photos, so we dont yet know if these 5 are the only photos taken, or the "best" in terms of proving its real, rather than the "best" in terms of providing overall view of the wreck.

        We dont know how many other close up photos might exist and better evidence the technical authenticity of the wreck, but to the photographer or modelling friend be less impressive than the 5 posted so far.

        We have been offered the opportunity of further photos and I hope those will remove any remaining doubt, and hopefully the source of the photos can also give us more information on when/where/who/how/what-now

        I think the consistancy and detail of the landscape in all photos, together with the detail of the wreck and its detailed and identifiable debris is beyond mere modelling and photoshopping, it might be CGI but doesnt "have the look", and as a mockup would need to be of reasonably large scale ie the work of a major film studio.

        - hence I think its real.

        So that leaves the obvious questions of:
        - where & when where the photos taken
        - is it still there,
        - and is there any attempts to have it recovered and preserved.

        I think its been suggested by others above that this is likely to be an RAF squadron airframe rather than a RAAF squadron based on the remanent code, and personally would prefer to see it preserved "as-is" such a significant battle field relic is worthy of conservation rather than restoration.

        Hopefully if the RAFM was approached to identify it they might be pursuing its acquisition? as such a wreck has more historical relevence to their collection than the hybrid former RAAF P40 currently on display, alternatively it would be very appropriate for the IWM/Duxford to pursue and display "as is".

        I find it interesting to see such apparant discoveries still coming to light, hopefully the arab spring in North Africa will yield other rare and extinct types from the desert or remote crash sites.



        Regards

        Mark Pilkington
        "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

        Comment

        • Mark12
          MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
          • Jan 2000
          • 10863

          The canopy is all but shut in all the images. The assumption seems to have been made that the cockpit shot was taken by somebody sitting in the pilot's seat. I doubt that canopy would slide open after all that time and sand. The glazing behind the canopy is clearly broken in the side hatch shot so surely the photographer could have reached in there and popped a shot, as many of us have done. The lens must be fairly wide to have got the full width of the panel, and some, again suggesting the camera was well back in the cockpit.

          Mark
          "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

          Comment

          • brewerjerry
            Rank 5 Registered User
            • May 2004
            • 919

            Hi
            It was suggested that it might be a lease lend aircraft over on the hyperscale board.
            If so ownership might be US, so it might be worth not jumping to any conclusions on the RAFM as a destination yet.
            cheers
            Jerry

            Comment

            • Mark_pilkington
              Rank 9999 Registered User
              • Jun 2004
              • 1791

              Originally posted by brewerjerry
              Hi
              It was suggested that it might be a lease lend aircraft over on the hyperscale board.
              If so ownership might be US, so it might be worth not jumping to any conclusions on the RAFM as a destination yet.
              cheers
              Jerry
              I would have thought that if this airframe is lend lease, it would have been listed as MIA and therefore written off the debt by the US, but regardless of any notional or legal US or RAF ownership at the time, surely in international law it will now be the property of the relevent government of the country its sitting in?

              I cant see the US demanding it back, but I could see the UK asking for it back.

              regards

              Mark Pilkington
              "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

              Comment

              • Stuart H
                Big boys did it
                • Mar 2010
                • 215

                Vey nicely done. The difference in contrast between the subject and the background could have been better rendered though, especially in the long distance shots. 7 out of 10 for photography, 10 out of 10 for modelling skills.
                The reason there is so little crime in Germany is that it's against the law.

                Comment

                • danjama
                  Rank 5 Registered User
                  • Nov 2010
                  • 432

                  Just detaching myself from the technical points of discussion for a moment to say, I really and truly would have given my left (or right) testicle, gladly, to have been in the photographers position when he stumbled upon this find...

                  Lucky guy.
                  sigpic

                  Comment

                  • Mark_pilkington
                    Rank 9999 Registered User
                    • Jun 2004
                    • 1791

                    Originally posted by Mark12
                    The canopy is all but shut in all the images. The assumption seems to have been made that the cockpit shot was taken by somebody sitting in the pilot's seat. I doubt that canopy would slide open after all that time and sand. The glazing behind the canopy is clearly broken in the side hatch shot so surely the photographer could have reached in there and popped a shot, as many of us have done. The lens must be fairly wide to have got the full width of the panel, and some, again suggesting the camera was well back in the cockpit.

                    Mark
                    In this head on photo the starboard rear quarter window seems totally removed
                    so I assume the photo could easily be taken from that position,
                    but in any case the while the sliding canopy appears closed
                    doesnt it also appear to missing perspex in its front half sections/segments on the starboard side and top?

                    The enhanced version to the right of the original photo yields more detail.

                    The digital enhancing is the work of someone over on WIX, it certainly makes the photo more believable.

                    The larger and clearer enhancement also brings more attention to the debris around the wreck.

                    The cloth material in front of the leading edge is strange to have lasted all these years in external conditions?
                    perhaps it was removed from the cockpit more recently when the photos were taken? (remains of parachute pack?)



                    Of course we dont know how long the perspex remained intact, or what/who broke it?




                    I assume early P-40's had a fully segmented canopy, not a single clear panel with centre coverstrips?
                    ie that one half panel could be broken without affecting the other?




                    as compared to the later single piece full side panel of the P-40N series?



                    images from adf-serials.com.au


                    regards

                    Mark Pilkington
                    "Never has a Country so Big!, owed so Much!, to those who Flew!"

                    Comment

                    • DC Page
                      Rank 5 Registered User
                      • Oct 2008
                      • 318

                      Some pictures that may be of use.

                      1 - A P-40E Shot down at Darwin, crash landed, cowling still intact. (Note to the WWW - "intact" is indeed ONE word, not two!) I have dozens of examples of belly landed P-40s with cowls still in place.

                      2 - P-40E diagram of engine installation & locations. - So you can tell what youre looking at. (Play with the brightness, saturation, exposure, etc., of the existing pictures if you want to see more while we wait for more pics.)

                      3 - Low res screen cap of a P-40 walk around that shows the relative position of the hatch while the aircraft is sitting on the tarmac. Note that on the back side of the panel door is a box that would hold all the aircraft documents. I'll bet it's empty and I'll bet the RAF has the documents. (Though they've probably been lost in the system by now.)





                      Attached Files

                      Comment

                      • Dave Homewood
                        Rank 5 Registered User
                        • Mar 2004
                        • 5648

                        Originally posted by Mark12
                        The canopy is all but shut in all the images. The assumption seems to have been made that the cockpit shot was taken by somebody sitting in the pilot's seat. I doubt that canopy would slide open after all that time and sand. The glazing behind the canopy is clearly broken in the side hatch shot so surely the photographer could have reached in there and popped a shot, as many of us have done. The lens must be fairly wide to have got the full width of the panel, and some, again suggesting the camera was well back in the cockpit.

                        Mark
                        That is what I was trying to suggest in Post #179.

                        I have done the same thing myself with a P-40 and and a Spitfire fuselage at ground level, taken photos of the interior by putting my hand in with the camera. Simple. I have done it too with an Oxford.
                        Wings Over Cambridge - Cambridge's and New Zealand's Contribution to the Wartime Air Forces

                        Wings Over New Zealand Forum

                        Comment

                        • Wellington285
                          Rank 5 Registered User
                          • Apr 2008
                          • 421

                          I totally agree with Mark Pilkington's post, very well put.
                          In the cockpit photo is there the remains of a parachute pack frame on the right hand side or is it some dislodged hydraulic pipe work?
                          Ian

                          Comment

                          • Wellington285
                            Rank 5 Registered User
                            • Apr 2008
                            • 421

                            Enhanced front view photo and it shows the remains of the engine in situ.
                            Ian
                            Attached Files

                            Comment

                            • J Boyle
                              With malice towards none
                              • Oct 2004
                              • 9792

                              Wouldn't the perspex be opaque by now?

                              There is a reason they spray sealant on them at the Ameriican boneyard.
                              And Tucson is much milder than the Sahara.
                              There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

                              Comment

                              • DC Page
                                Rank 5 Registered User
                                • Oct 2008
                                • 318

                                Originally posted by Wellington285
                                Enhanced front view photo and it shows the remains of the engine in situ.
                                Ian
                                AMAZING what those modelers can do these days, isn't it?
                                :diablo:

                                Comment

                                • Versuch
                                  Rank 5 Registered User
                                  • Sep 2010
                                  • 533

                                  Amazing...as usual someone has bagged the damn clock!

                                  Comment

                                  • Bruce
                                    Independent analyst
                                    • Jan 2000
                                    • 10223

                                    There are a few red herrings here.

                                    Firstly, with respect to the door - look at what you can see, not what you can't. The angle at which the picture is taken is the reason you can't see the opening. If you were going to such lengths to fake it, you wouldn't get that wrong.

                                    I read somewhere that closing the canopy was standard practise when leaving an aircraft behind in the desert - it was commonplace for wrecks to be collected and repaired, so the canopy was shut to keep the sand out. Looks like it worked!

                                    I have yet to see any model that is as convincing as photo's 3 and 4. If I were a modeller with that level of skill, I would be showing it to the world, not preparing an elaborate hoax! All the model pictures shown so far whilst blisteringly good, still look like models.

                                    The enhanced picture above showing the engine is the clincher for me.


                                    Bruce

                                    Comment

                                    • ~Alan~
                                      Rank 5 Registered User
                                      • Mar 2010
                                      • 5018

                                      Originally posted by Bruce
                                      I read somewhere that closing the canopy was standard practise when leaving an aircraft behind in the desert - it was commonplace for wrecks to be collected and repaired, so the canopy was shut to keep the sand out. Looks like it worked!
                                      Bruce
                                      As long as the photographer closed it again afterwards ?
                                      Engine Failure:.... A condition which occurs when all fuel tanks mysteriously become filled with air.

                                      Comment

                                      • Mark12
                                        MEANS MOTIVE OPPORTUNITY
                                        • Jan 2000
                                        • 10863

                                        Originally posted by Mark12
                                        Libya or Egypt?

                                        I have a map reference from 20 or more years back in Egypt of a 'Spitfire' found by an Oil survey team. I had forgotten about that.

                                        They passed the details to the RAF Museum, who were not interested, who in turn passed them on to me.

                                        It is still extremely dangerous to swan around areas of Libya and Egypt because of the the uncharted minefields which they are still arguing who is going to pay for the removal.

                                        I bought this up when the Spitfire surfaced at the El Alamein museum but was advised to be very cautious. An 'adventure' outfit said it would take a three day round trip from Cairo to get me there and back with a minimum of two vehicles and I declined on the basis of cost and the probability of it being buried.

                                        I wonder if this could be the same aircraft.

                                        There was nothing visible on Google Earth.

                                        Mark
                                        I dug out the paperwork on the 'Spitfire' wreck. The sighting by the geophysical team goes back to the 1970's. To the uninitiated a P-40 looks very similar to a Spitfire, particularly when in RAF markings.

                                        From the calcs I did at the time, for fighters operating in this theatre, basically along the coast, this is about as far south as you might get if lost and out of fuel.

                                        The Qattarah depression was a tactical 'no go' dead area to both sides in WWII.

                                        If this P-40 is genuine this location could be a prime contender. If so the pilot would almost certainly not have been located and would not have survived for too many days.

                                        The ORB's for the Spitfire squadrons in theatre quickly revealed the serial of the Alamein Spitfire. A similar study of the P-40 squadrons would reveal losses, searches or FTRs etc and be my first port of call.

                                        Mark

                                        "...the story had been forensically examined and was deeply impressive. I knew that the whole story was a load of myth and baloney"

                                        Comment

                                        • David Burke
                                          Rank 5 Registered User
                                          • Jan 2000
                                          • 10027

                                          Concuring with Bruce -if you have the level of skill to produce that fuselage section and to replicate the effect of the aircraft having suffered a 'broken back' your not likely to waste your time on hoax's when you could earn good money fixing the real thing!

                                          On another note has anyone looked at the asi position etc to look at impact speeds which might give a good idea on the force to sheer prop and reduction gearbox ?

                                          Comment

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