JCB is providing a 20-metric-ton JS200 tracked excavator, a 22-metric-ton JS220 tracked excavator and a 3CX Eco backhoe loader to assist in the excavation of disassembled Spitfire warplanes believed to have been buried in Burma by American engineers near the end of World War II.

Oliver Keates team leader of the JCB

The mission to excavate crates thought to contain more than 30 of the Spitfires is about to get underway at Rangoon International Airport in Burma. JCB is also dispatching the team leader of its Dancing Digger display team, demonstrator Oliver Keates, of Cheadle, Staffordshire, to operate the machines and offer expert advice on the digging operation.

JCB was founded by engineer Joseph Cyril Bamford in a lock-up garage in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire in October 1945. Reginald Mitchell, the engineer famous for designing the Spitfire, is also from Staffordshire. He was born in 1895 in Kidsgrove.

“Reginald Mitchell put Staffordshire on the map in the 1930s with the design of the Spitfire so it’s very fitting that JCB, a modern day innovator and engineering company based in the county, should be providing the excavators to dig up the planes,” said Sir Anthony Bamford, JCB chairman.

Keates, who has worked for JCB for 14 years, said, “I’m excited at the prospect of being involved in this project. It’s going to be thrilling to be at the controls of JCB machines attempting to unearth a Spitfire.”

The dig is getting underway after a 17-year search for the Spitfires led by aviation enthusiast David Cundall. Award-winning online games developer Wargaming is funding the efforts to recover the buried Spitfires.

JCB is supplying the machines through its dealer in Burma, RMA Services Co Ltd. Based in purpose-built facilities in Yangon, the company is also providing logistical and service support.

JCB, the world’s third-largest construction equipment brand, has 22 plants on four continents: 11 in the U.K., six in India and others in Brazil, the U.S., China, Germany and France. The company manufactures more than 300 different machines including backhoe loaders; Loadall telescopic handlers; tracked and wheeled excavators; wheeled loading shovels; articulated dump trucks; rough-terrain forklifts; mini excavators; robot skid-steer loaders and JCB Vibromax compaction equipment.

Wargaming is an online game developer and publisher and a leader in the free-to-play Massively Multiplayer Online market.