Space needed to fit wings to WWI warbird

Jack Godfrey has run out of space and is on the lookout for a new workshop to complete his replica fighter plane before his Armistice Day deadline.

Space is at a premium for the Hamilton retiree as his non-flying World War I-era Bristol Scout took shape and he looked to attach the wings.

Crammed into a five-metre wide communal workshop at Alandale Lifestyle Village, dubbed Jack's Shed by residents, sits a finely engineered home-built timber structure.

"The extra space is required so that we can do the rigging," he said.

"Each wing panel - the four panels - attach to the structure then the wire bracing has to be done. In order to do that we need to assemble the whole aeroplane, trestle the wings so we are able to cut and fit the cables to hold them together."

At nearly five metres long and requiring enough room for its seven metre wingspan, Godfrey hoped to find a new workshop nearby. "I really want it close to home so I don't have to spend half the day travelling to it."

A casual comment to friend and chairman of Armistice In Cambridge Paul Watkins put Godfrey on to the project which he slaved over for 12 months.

"He threw the gauntlet down and I picked it up and said, 'yes, we will build one'."

While not an exact replica - modern glues replace expensive wire and steel brackets - Godfrey said the finished product would give a sense of what one of the earliest WWI aircraft was like to fly.

The Bristol Scout was first built for civilian use in 1913, and at the onset of war, was commissioned as a scouting plane to fly over enemy lines.

Godfrey hoped it would be completed by November but would still put it on display and show building techniques and design principles used if time ran short.

"Looking at the numbers, the total material, method of construction and that's how the project sort of started," he said. "It was a casual throwaway line that turned into a pretty major exercise."

Watkins looked forward to the unveiling and said it was the only replica of its type in New Zealand and would be a nice addition to the replica WWI trench at Mighty River Domain at Lake Karapiro, also due to be finished by November.

"At the moment, when you look at what models of WWI aircraft are in New Zealand, many of them are from 1916 or 1917.

"There's none from 1914, so we chose the Bristol Scout because it was in fact flying at the outbreak of WWI."

Waikato Times