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Plane enthusiasts refurbish WWI fighter aircraft for museum

The Sopwith Camel will go on display at Montrose's Air Station Heritage Centre.

Restoration: Sopwith Camel refurbished by plane enthusiasts.
Restoration: Sopwith Camel refurbished by plane enthusiasts.

Enthusiasts who refurbished a replica of a famous war time aircraft hope it will become a memorial to the brave men who flew it.

The Sopwith Camel was once a familiar sight and sound in the skies above Angus in 1918.

It was the most successful and famous of British fighter planes of WWI.

Now a team of volunteers have painstakingly restored a replica of a Sopwith Camel which they hope will be pride of place in Montrose once again.

The plane on display at Montrose's Air Station Heritage Centre had become "shabby" and a decision was taken to carry out a full restoration.

Very few genuine Sopwith Camels have survived .

"If you want a Sopwith Camel, the only thing you can do is make one which is what we did using original WWI factory drawings," explained museum curator Dr Dan Paton.

"The skills involved in doing that were quite considerable and many of those skills are being lost.

"Not many people know how to put on the canvas covering of an aeroplane anymore."

The plane was originally built in 1964 but the heritage centre realised it didn't represent an accurate reproduction so they decided a complete reconstruction was necessary to bring it up to museum standards .

It was stripped back to its frame and restoration work includes a new set of wings including a real rotary engine.

The plane will become a memorial to those who flew it including WWI flying ace Captain John Todd .

He was known as 'the Scottish Camel Ace ' and became a pilot instructor at the Montrose Air Station in 1918.

"A replica of the aircraft is a very appropriate exhibit for the heritage centre which is the only museum in Scotland where visitors can see what a WWI aircraft looked like," added Dr Paton.

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