Thursday, July 12, 2007

Australian Boxkite replica for 2014 centenary

A small dedicated team in Australia have embarked on a project to build an airworthy Bristol Boxkite replica, in time for the centenary of the first military flight in Australia. On the morning of March 1st, 1914, Lieutenant Eric Harrison, an aviator instructor, took Bristol Military Biplane CFS-3 into the air at the newly acquired Army flying field at Point Cook, Victoria. This was the home of the Central Flying School (CFS). That historic flight is now recognised as the starting point of all military flying in Australia.

This Australian replica Boxkite will be built over a period of four to five years. This will ensure that the aeroplane is available in sufficient time to take part in celebrations that will occur in March 2014. With Project 2014 having started in 2006, ample time is available to allow for the resolution of unforeseen problems that may arise during the building of this machine, and the subsequent test flying.

The first wing ribs under constructionThe first wing ribs under construction. Courtesy of Project 2014

The Project Manager, Ron Gretton AM, was the driving force behind the RAAF Museum’s Supermarine Walrus (HD874) restoration. Assistant Project Manager Geoff Matthews joined Ron on the Walrus restoration, and they are both highly experienced ex-RAAF engineering officers with a wealth of the skills required in this project. They are already well into the organisational phase and have already started to cut wood and form shapes for the ribs, booms and undercarriage. Many of the metal fittings have been cut, welded and plated.

The engine will be an Australian seven cylinder 110hp (82kw) radial Rotec R2800, designed and manufactured by Rotec Engineering Pty Ltd at Moorabbin, Victoria. Rosebank Engineering has kindly supplied the engine and all the timber for the project. Mobile Network has supplied the wheels and structural metal, and Aerostructures, and Macdonald Technologies International have also provided significant support. The project is, of course, supported by both the RAAF Museum and the Air Force itself.