My Sopwith Snipe has been completed, signed-off by the authorities, and recently test-flown!
All this is courtesy of Peter Jackson’s great interest and efforts building up very authentic reproductions of famous WWI aircraft. As mentioned in a previous blog, I did a trade with Peter for the Snipe and Albatros and sent down several engines they overhauled for the projects.
Since this is the first Snipe built by Gene DeMarco and The Vintage Aviator Ltd. (TVAL), it took considerably longer than my Albatros, which already had a prototype flying. I blogged about my exploits in April flying the Albatros at the Omaka Airshow.
I chose to paint the Snipe in the colors of highly-decorated WWI Canadian Ace Billy Barker, who was the 12th highest scoring ace in WWI with 50 confirmed kills. It represents the airplane he flew his last combat in on October 27, 1918, in which he received the Victoria Cross for his valiant efforts against enemy aircraft.
One of the cooler aspects of the restoration was that Barker and his squadron mates used to put car ornaments of the time on their airplanes to “personalize” them. Gene and his restoration crew did some research and found the ornaments are still being made for period cars . . . by the SAME COMPANY that built them in WWI! How cool is that? They ordered me the one Barker used . . . a Red Devil!
The Snipe uses the largest Rotary engine ever built: a British Bentley BR-2 with 230 hp! I have seen videos of it running on a test stand and can’t wait to get it back to hear it in person. Better yet, fly behind it!
As I write this, both the Snipe and the Albatros are on a ship headed to Florida. We hope to have them assembled and flying at Fantasy of Flight and by the end of March in time for the 2012 Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In!