This Spitfire Was Buried On A Beach For 40 Years And You Can Buy It

Published On 05/11/2015 Published On 05/11/2015
The Great Escape Spitfire

One of the most crucial fighter planes of WWII, the Spitfire is what legends are made of. The one you're looking at is about to hit the auction block at Christie's, where it's expected to fetch close to $4,000,000. It was shot down over France in 1940, left an indelible mark on The Great Escape, and spent the better part of 40 years buried under a sandy beach.

After a painstaking restoration, Christie's claims it's one of just two original Mk. I Spitfires in operational condition anywhere in the world. And it's backstory is just as incredible. 


This plane saw nearly 33 hours of combat duty and even destroyed a Nazi fighter, before a single bullet sealed its fate over Calais.


Flying Officer Peter Cazenove crash landed on the beach, where he promptly radioed base, both to say he's alright, and to request that someone "tell mother I'll be home for tea." After being photographed by German soldiers (shown), the Spitfire was gradually buried by the sea. 


Cazenove was captured, and sent to Stalag Luft III, where he participated in the Great Escape along with another pilot who had flown this same plane, and who was portrayed by Richard Attenborough in the classic Steve McQueen and James Garner film.

The plane was found decades later, and eventually wound up in the hands of a wealthy collector. He ensured its proper restoration, and is now selling it to benefit a Royal Air Force Charity.

For even more on the plane, Christie's made an outstanding interactive documentary.

Aaron Miller is the Rides editor for Supercompressor, and can be found on Twitter. He wonders how nervous the pilot was the first time he flew an old Spitfire that had spent so long under the sand.



Learn More