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Hurry Up and Save This Newly Discovered P-40!

by John Reed on May 11, 2012

Happy Friday. To kick this weekend off early check out this video of a newly discovered RAF Curtis P-40 Warhawk that has sat undiscovered in near perfect condition in the Sahara Desert in Egypt since crash-landing there during World War II.

The American-made P-40 was being flown by its RAF pilot, a 24-year old Flight Sgt. Dennis Copping, to a British base in Northern Eygpt for repairs when it suffered engine trouble and Copping made a crash landing 200-miles from the nearest town. Poor Copping tried to repair the engine and shelter himself from the deadly sun with his parachute, but his efforts were to no avail and he died somewhere in the desert.

The plane, one of thousand of P-40s made for the U.S. and its allies, was discovered recently by a Polish oil company worker and it’s remarkably intact. The video below shows the cockpit and ammo looking almost new, certainly not 70 years old.

Now, the P-40 is supposedly going to be shipped to the RAF museum in the UK but museum officials had better act quickly since scavengers are already beginning to remove parts from the aircraft!

The P-40 was a late 1930s-vintage design and was becoming obsolete by the time Copping crashed this one in 1942 — the type would soon be replaced in U.S. service by the more capable and legendary P-38 Lightning,P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang. While P-40s are most famous for their American service it was with the British Commonwealth’s Desert Air Force in North Africa and the Middle East that the plane first saw combat.

Click through the jump for the video.

Via Gizmodo.

Click here to see more pics.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

DGR May 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

What a good looking bird!

Looks like the pilot made one hell of a good crash landing. Amazing how well preserved it is after all these years.

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TMB May 11, 2012 at 2:09 pm

The desert (especially the Sahara) seems to do that very well. WWII crashes in the Sahara pop up every now and then always in very good shape.

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Bill May 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm

It's all about moisture – its amazing how much water has an effect on material preservation. Desert bones are always a good find too, the water leaves quickly enough so the bone doesnt decompose thoroughly.

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Kool Guy May 12, 2012 at 8:28 am

Wait is this thing even real? since the plane crashed and was undiscovered, it means the pilot also got killed. If not meaning the pilot got rescued so the plane cant be undiscovered, so how come the report doesnt mention about a dead body or at least skeleton of the pilot still inside the plane? I think 1st thing they would say when discovered such a thing is the shock that they found someone's skeleton inside the plane, but all it talks about is how nice the plane was preserved. Kinda dont make sense, might be fake. If its landmine buried underneath the ground i would understand why its still there today, but cmon its a big plane sitting on top of a desert and it was undiscovered for about 70 years? Are we still in the ice age era or technology era with sattelite map that can track a country secret nuclear facility?

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TMB May 12, 2012 at 12:42 pm

If you bothered to read the article: "Poor Copping tried to repair the engine and shelter himself from the deadly sun with his parachute, but his efforts were to no avail and he died somewhere in the desert."

He survived the crash and probably walked off and died. Things in the Sahara get covered in sand all the time only to be uncovered years later. It's not a "big plane" and it crashed 200 miles from civilization. Why would satellites be looking for it?

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C. Norris May 13, 2012 at 8:22 am

Lol. Screw reading. The headline and first two sentences are enough, right?

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tiger May 13, 2012 at 2:06 pm

You may be Kool, but lack basic reading comprehension.

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Jim May 13, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Perhaps this plane has been covered by sand all these years, and a fortuitous wind blew the sand off of the plane. Happens all the time in the large deserts. Exposed, covered, exposed, covered and so forth. The article mentions the pilot not being found, so he could easily be near the plane, but still buried by the sand.

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Sgt_Buffy May 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

Don't bother reading the article at all. The pilot wandered off, and had no means of communicating that he had crashed. he was lost and alone and he died in the desert.

Also, dunes like those in the picture move, so it is possible that the plane was buried from about a week after it crashed until now. Even if that's not the case, it was 200 miles from the nearest village, and who knows how far from the nearest WWII enthusiast with a budget.

For what integrity this comment stream still has, please do some homework.

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Sgt_Buffy May 14, 2012 at 7:41 am

Let's make it a permanent memorial for all pilots lost in the line of duty on that front.TMB says what's on my mind, that WWII crashes in the Sahara pop up e'ry now and again. Let's make a memorial out of this one.

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Max May 11, 2012 at 12:45 pm

great find i always loved those old p-40s hopefully this bird makes it to the museum intact before the scavengers tear it up forever

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tiger May 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm

Neat find. Hard believe nobody found it till now. 200 miles from help in a desert? Crappy way to die.

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Pat May 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Finally something interesting and not about an F-35 or F-22

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BaBaBoooEeeeee May 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

"Poor Copping tried to repair the engine"???????? You have to be joking. Yes the aircraft looks like it is in excellent shape to be put into a museum but did he mean to fly it again? By the visible condition of the prop (0:18) and landing gear, there was no way that aircraft was taking off again from his repairs, especially from a sand "runway." He must have been pretty dehydrated.

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Batman May 13, 2012 at 8:27 am

http://webtrax.hu/myfacewhen/39 Thanks, Captain Obvious.

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John Davies March 13, 2014 at 1:30 pm

Should have read "Poor Copping tried to repair the radio" not the engine , that suffered massive damage.

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tiger May 11, 2012 at 1:10 pm

Reminds me of that movie "Flight of the Pheonix."

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Musson May 11, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Now William Shatner can go back and talk to the Ghost pilot of this missing plane that he accidentally led off its true course.

(Sole Survivor – 1970)

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Juramentado May 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Some reports indicate the pilot actually tried to yank the radio out of the plane and set it up with batteries. He might have also set up shade as a discarded silk chute canopy was found nearby. In any case, a lousy way to go. Given he was already lost, he could only rely on general direction in trying to find help.

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blight_ May 11, 2012 at 4:06 pm

It's definitely worse when you are Lost and then go down. 200 miles is tough in the desert, even if you knew where you're going. Not like you can ride Shai-Hulud with a stillsuit and a Fremkit.

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tiger May 11, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Perhaps one day we will find his remains. At least the family now knows what happened. Not just a letter saying MIA.

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blight_ May 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

It's ridiculously unlikely to actually find a body, though he should be well-preserved if found.

I found it weird that he attempted to close the cockpit before leaving. Though I suppose I'd rather die on land than be shot down and die at sea…

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tiger May 11, 2012 at 8:51 pm

He likely did not walk too far without water. He is likely in a 20 mile circle of that wreck.

Lance May 11, 2012 at 4:12 pm

Cool video. Hope they bring it back soon to England. I find it cool the dry conditions in North Africa preserve they remnants of WW2 in near mint condition where as in the Pacific the heat and moisture eats any relic away to nothing in all but a couple of years. With the sanctions lifted from Libya someone should get the B-24 bomber ''Lady Be Good'' and take the remains from Libya back to the USA. The bomber itself for nearly 20 years was one of WW2s biggest mysteries.

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DGR May 11, 2012 at 4:37 pm

That would be a very worthy cause! Id donate as much as I could to make it happen…… Such a shame to see these planes get broken up for scap……..

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tiger May 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Same reason we store old planes at the boneyard at Davis Monathan. Same conditions.

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Nicky May 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm

What's surprising is that that the P-40 was flown by a NCO Flight Sgt. Back then it was common for NCO Flight SGT's to be pilots. Now, for anyone to be a pilot, one has to be at a minimum a Warrant officer. It would be impossible today for a SGT to be a pilot. How times have changed. Maybe the USAF can revive warrant officer pilots or Flight SGT pilots.

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TMB May 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm

Britain's pilot officer corps was bled dry early in the war with the Battle of Britain. They always had manpower issues during the war so they used everybody they could get their hands on to fly.

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tiger May 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm

Thoughts are that they may go that way for drone pilots. Why do you need 4 years at the Academy to fly a drone? Just the personnel payroll costs make it a good idea.

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Nicky May 11, 2012 at 10:52 pm

I agree and I think the USAF should revive the Warrant officer program for technical fields such as UAV pilots, Helo pilots and technical fields

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Jim May 13, 2012 at 10:54 pm

My Dad started out as a Flying SSgt in the AAF. Army Staff Sgt Chevrons with the Wings and Propeller in the center of the Chevrons. He said high level officers, back then, were not happy that the Sgts were pilots, because the commander (Pilot) of the airplane is in charge while the plane is airborne, and they didn't like a Sgt being able to tell them what to do. He said the answer, at that time, was to create the Flight Officer Grade, which was similar to the Warrant Officer used by ground forces. The FO "bar" was oval in shape and was Blue-Gold-Blue. He was battlefield Commissioned to 2nd Lt. after landing in Normandy flying a British Horsa Glider. He was a dual rated pilot, Transports and Gliders. Personally, I believe this same type of thinking still goes on today, and that is why the AF has no Warrants, while all the other Branches do.

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mike May 11, 2012 at 6:28 pm

just to correct ya its a p40 kitty hawk folks as its the p40b and what an amazing find i couldnt beleive it when i read bout it i hope it makes it to my local air museum at RAF cosford

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stephen russell May 11, 2012 at 9:11 pm

They can reuse parts from archieve or produce from plans.
Doable.
UK must have WW2 archieves someplace for project, No great loss.
Now If they take the fueslage, then real problems.

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Robert Fritts May 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm

I worked in Tabuk, KSA on the Bradley program in 96-98. We would go fishing at the entrance to the Gulf of Aqaba. There was a PBY Catalina there. Bought after the war by a Aussie Doctor and converted into a flying recreational vehicle for his family. They tour the world in it(perfect aircraft for that). While transiting from Cyprus to Aden they were shot down by Saudis, arrested and put on trial for spying. After 3 months they were all(Mom,Pop&4 kids) beheaded. Was there 2 years ago, the Aircraft still sits on the coral reef and looks 90% intact.

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blight_ May 11, 2012 at 11:51 pm
tiger May 12, 2012 at 2:45 am

The Corvair was Motor trend car of the year?? White folk smoking Newports? A RCA "portable" tv the size of a milk crate? 1960 was a wierd time & place….. Looks like the family lived. Wacky story though.

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Rohan May 11, 2012 at 11:52 pm

Woooo…where is it!! Can we buy it for the museum ???

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Glen May 12, 2012 at 12:22 pm

The pilot of the plane is still alive.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/05/11/plane-of-

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TMB May 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm

That story reads more like Edwards owned the plane at one point, but Copping was flying it when it crashed.

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deusvolt May 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm

yeah, the pilot at time of crashing is still unaccounted for, presumed dead

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Noha307 May 12, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Screw Kony. P-40 2012!

Who's with me! Go camp out there and cordon off the aircraft until the museum folks arrive.

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William C. May 12, 2012 at 1:29 pm

Such incredible condition yet idiots are already jumping atop the thing and tearing it apart.

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Fahmy September 22, 2012 at 9:44 am

The guy -Copping- made a terrible mistake, he was flying exactly to the opposite direction and simply ran out of fuel. Same mistake of Lady be good navigator and at least another Egyptian pilot in the same period (civilian). The location of the crash is nearly at the South borders of Egypt near Sudan. I assume he should have been bound North, not South.

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Mike May 12, 2012 at 2:34 pm

My Gawd, a P-40E, aka Kittyhawk 1a!

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french guy May 12, 2012 at 4:53 pm

In memory of all heroes who disappeared without leaving trace….

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Sgt_Buffy May 14, 2012 at 11:45 am

*salutes

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D. Roy May 13, 2012 at 12:03 am

I'm sure everyone is knows the story of the Lady Be Good, the B-24 that sat alone and undisturbed for twenty years, then torn to shreds over the decades. This Kittyhawk is the next Lady Be Good, only it is possible now to prevent what happened to the Lady Be Good to happen to this Kittyhawk. If I had died for freedom and my wrecked plane was my only grave marker, I sure as hell would be pissed if passerbys ripped it apart for suvenirs. Act quickly.

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Mastro May 13, 2012 at 10:16 pm

If that plane was Lend Lease- I believe its US property.

Might have been Cash and Carry back when congress had no guts-

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Fahmy September 22, 2012 at 4:32 am
blair December 9, 2012 at 9:33 am

If they restore it. They should put it back in the spot were it crashed, because thats the pilots resting place, and thats his plane. Then they should have a building or place kinda like a museum or display set up and use the money they make for charity. That would be nice for the plane to once again help people in need.

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! February 7, 2013 at 8:48 pm
blair December 9, 2012 at 9:35 am
blight_ May 11, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Fair enough. I imagine everyone is fixated on the rarity and value of the aircraft, while forgetting there is a body out there waiting to come home. Hell, even dog tags, but those might be harder to find.

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deusvolt May 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm

Arabs? they are Eastern European / Russian. Why would you assume Arabs?!

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Thomas L. Nielsen May 14, 2012 at 8:22 am

According to the Danish press, the British and Egyptian governments are currently discussing an effort to search for the pilot.

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg (expat Dane)

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