Thornhill Swanson Reproduction

This aircraft is an authentic full-scale reproduction built by Gerry Thornhill and Carl Swanson, completed in June 1985. It was imported to New Zealand in 1997 by film maker Peter Jackson and features a number of original components, including a 160 hp Gnome rotary engine, wicker seat and instruments. The aircraft is painted as B3889 (coded B1) as used by Blenheim-born Capt Clive Collett of 70 Squadron RFC. This was the second of four Camels in which Collett was successful in combat and he achieved five of his twelve aerial victories flying it between August 13 and 25, 1918. The four were B3756, B3889, B6234, and B2341. (Omaka aerodrome is adjacent to Blenheim). Credited with being the first ace to achieve a victory while flying a Sopwith Camel, Collett went on to achieve a score of 12 downed enemy aircraft. Unfortunately, before the war's end, he was killed in a flying accident while testing a captured German aircraft (Albatros) in Scotland.

This Camel made its public debut at the Classic Fighters Air Show at Omaka during Easter 2001 where it spectacularly shed its cowling in mid-display. Masterful flying by American pilot Gene de Marco saw it successfully return to earth.

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