The aircraft flown by the Great War Flying Museum were constructed in such a way as to balance historical accuracy with ease of maintenance and airframe longevity. As far as possible, attention has been paid to historical detail, but in some instances necessity has dictated various changes.
Due to various long distance trips undertaken by the aircraft to participate in airshows and events, the engines are more modern than those in the original aircraft types. The original wooden tailskids have been replaced with tailwheels in order to operate from paved runways, and the main wheels have been equipped with modern disc brakes. In addition, modern radio equipment and flight instruments have been installed in each aircraft.
For most of its life this aircraft was painted to represent an all red triplane as flown by Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron, although it incorrectly bore the serial Fok. Dr I 103/17. In the winter of 2005, the aircraft was given all new fabric and repainted in more authentic colours to represent Fok. Dr I 477/17. Some controversy surrounds the question of particular serial numbers on the Baron's all red triplanes. That being said, the museum decided to attempt to replicate the aircraft shown in the famous photographs at Lechelle with the propeller wrapped in a tarpaulin.
Paint Scheme: Green and blue, Leutnant Paul Bäumer
Year Completed: 1996
First Flight: 14 July 1996
Plan set used: Redfern
Engine Type: Jacobs L4Mb
This aircraft represented a long time project for its builder, who died not long after its completion. It was purchased by the GWFM as a flying aircraft although it has required on-going work in order to bring it up to museum standards. It is painted in the colours of Vzfw Paul Baumer, Fok. Dr I 204.17 as worn with Jasta Boelcke. When acquired, this aircraft was painted light blue overall with the exception of its markings and looked rather strange. The application of the green streaking to the upper surfaces went a long way to making it look more correct, although the oversized nose is a clear sign of its large, non-standard engine.
Paint Scheme: Blue, red and white, Hauptmann Rudolf Berthold
Year Completed: 1977
First Flight: 5 November 1977
Plan set used: Rousseau Aviation
Engine Type: Fairchild Ranger 6-440-C5 (inverted)
Major rebuilds in: 2003, 1991
The Fokker DVII was the first aircraft built completely in-house at the Great War Flying Museum. It was constructed using the same plan set as the replicas built for the film The Blue Max, but powered by an inverted Ranger engine rather than the Gypsy Queen. It was originally painted in the all white colours of Fok. D.VII 5125/18 as flown by Oblt Hermann Göering while in Jagdgeschwader I. In 1991, the aircraft was repainted complete with lozenge pattern to represent Hptm Rudolf Berthold's aircraft from Jadgdeschwader II bearing his winged sword insignia. This was briefly over-painted in the fall of 2003 while on the set of the film The Aviator (2004) so as to represent an all red D.VII from the film Hell's Angels (1930). Once the temporary paint was removed, the aircraft was returned to its red and blue Berthold colours. Unfortunately, in the summer of 2007, the D.VII was involved in a serious accident. While the pilot was uninjured, the aircraft sustained serious structural damage. Reconstruction is now well under way, and it has been decided that a new paint scheme will adorn this aircraft.
Paint Scheme: American Air Service markings, Eddie Rickenbacker
Year Completed: 1995
First Flight: 14 September 1995
Plan set used: unknown
Engine Type: Continental R670
Major rebuilds in: 1996
This N28 replica is constructed of a welded steel fuselage with wood wings, and powered by a Continental R670 radial. Acquired as an unfinished project the museum completed the aircraft and painted it in the colours of the 94th Aero Squadron. These "Hat in the Ring" colours represent the serial 6139 as flown by Eddie Rickenbacker.
Paint Scheme: Royal Flying Corps markings, James McCudden
Year Completed: 1970
First Flight: 30 June 1970
Plan set used: Prototype Scale SE5a based on Currie-Watt homebuilt.
Engine Type: Continental C85-12
Engine replaced with: Lycoming O-235-C
Engine replaced in: July 1999
Major rebuilds in: 1987, 1998
This replica SE5a is of interest because it is one of two prototypes for this scale plan set. It is the 'sister' airplane of C-FQGL, which is still flying with the Canadian Museum of Flight in Langley, British Columbia. For much of its life with the GWFM, this aircraft wore the colourful (if short lived) paint scheme of A 8936 with No. 60 Sqn. RFC, wearing a blue nose and wheel covers. William Avery Bishop, VC, wore this scheme briefly before an official scheme was handed down for the SE5, forcing it to be painted in more conventional British colours. Following its more recent rebuild, QGM was repainted to represent B4863, as flown by James McCudden, VC, while serving with No. 56 Sqn. RFC.
Paint Scheme: Royal Flying Corps markings, Canadian Ace Billy Bishop
Year Completed: 1991
First Flight: 1 August 1991
Plan set used: Original RAF plans for wings and external dimensions of fuselage, adapted Starduster Too steel structure for fuselage.
Engine Type: Ford V6 with Blanton PSRU. Engine replaced with Ranger 6-440-C5
Engine replaced in: Winter 1996
Major rebuilds in: 1996, 2006
The full scale SE5 is the second aircraft built completely in house at the GWFM. Externally it was built to correspond to original Royal Aircraft Factory drawings, yet the fuselage is actually of welded steel construction. Originally powered by a Ford truck engine running a propeller speed reduction unit, this was abandoned in favour of a Ranger aircraft engine. Only one paint scheme has been worn on this aircraft, namely C1904 as flown by William Avery Bishop, VC. It wore these colours and can be distinguished clearly in The Aviator by the large 'Z' on the fuselage.
Paint Scheme: Royal Naval Air Service, Flight Sub-Lieutenant Redpath
Year Completed: 2004
First Flight: Spring 2005
Plan set used: Replicraft Plans - Modified Steel Fuselage
Engine Type: Continental W670 9A
This aircraft is somewhat of a rarity amongst World War I replicas in that it represents a two-seat fighter/observation aircraft. It is interesting that the main role of aircraft in the Great War was for observation, and yet the vast majority of replicas built today represent single seat fighters. The Strutter is constructed with a steel fuselage, but externally conforms to original dimensions. The standard position for the rear seat is facing rearward so as to allow the gunner to operate the Scarff ring mounted Lewis gun, but can also be turned around to allow for a more conventional forward-facing seating position. Already popular for film work due to its second seat this aircraft significantly increases the ability of the museum to replicate scenes from World War I. It is currently painted to represent the colours of Strutter 9739 as flown by Flight Sub-Lt. R.F. Redpath of the Royal Naval Air Service.