Fighting the war in a flimsy tube

16:00, Feb 13 2014
Jack Godfrey
CRACKING AWAY: Jack Godfrey with the World War I-era Bristol Scout he is reconstructing for the Armistice in Cambridge event later this year.

Just how flimsy and precarious World War I-era fighter planes were will be revealed when a replica goes on display in Cambridge later this year.

Hamilton retiree Jack Godfrey is reconstructing a Bristol Scout for the Armistice in Cambridge commemorations.

The 82-year-old - who has been building models since he was a boy - has been working on the non-flying model from old photos and drawings in a workshop at the back of Alandale Lifestyle Village.

The plane now stands as a wooden frame and aluminium shell but, once finished, it will be almost identical to what was used by the Royal Flying Corps at the outset of World War I.

Mr Godfrey said the plane would be painted the traditional colour of cream, numbered, and have three striped panels on the wing. It would measure 16 feet in length, with a 24-foot wing span.

The Bristol Scout was first built for civilian use in 1913, and on the outbreak of war the simple, single-seat plane went "scouting" behind enemy lines.


"They flew over and the pilot took notes of enemy trenches," Mr Godfrey said.

Armistice in Cambridge board chairman Paul Watkins said Mr Godfrey was asked to help build a Bristol Scout because the plane was flying at the outbreak of the war.

"This year is the centenary celebration and we wanted to do something substantial. It's quite hard to get up close to a World War I plane."

He said the Scout would provide an up-close understanding of what airmen were flying 100 years ago.

"People will realise that they were made of timber and full of wires, and appreciate exactly what it was like back then."

Waikato Times