Shropshire Star

First World War plane gets remodeled in Shropshire

[gallery] It was used to fight on the Western Front and defend our country in the First World War - and families flocked from far and wide at the weekend to make their very own models of the Sopwith Pup, a British fighter aircraft.


Patience and concentration could be felt in the air at the RAF Cosford Museum as instructions were followed, fiddly parts fitted together and colours chosen.

Built by the Sopwith Aviation Company, the Sopwith Pup served on the Western Front until the end of 1917 before being used for home defence and training units.

It entered service with the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service and today one of them stands proudly in the museum's new First World War in the Air Exhibition.

It inspired staff to offer dozens of boys, girls and adults the chance to build their own replica hand-sized models.

With the help of members from the Shropshire Model Club, the Airfix Make and Take event was a "huge success", according to events manager Abi Betteridge.

Little Saleen Sogier, aged seven, spent hours making and painting his model aircraft.

He had travelled all the way from Chester with his grandad David Edwards, who said Saleen loved nothing more than to build his own models. Saleen said: "It's been so fun. I put all the parts together myself but I did have a bit of help from my grandad."

The Simmons family, including Harry, 10, and Grace, aged eight, from Walsall, also headed to Cosford for the day.

Harry said: "We came to the museum for my dad's birthday earlier this month and I saw the poster for the make and take day and I had to come back."

Their grandmother Margaret, 75, said: "It makes you realise how many conflicts there were in the First World War. RAF Cosford is a really interesting place."

Quin Edwards, 11, from Shrewsbury, wants to join the RAF cadets and said his interest in aircraft was sparked by his grandfather, who served as a radar engineer in the RAF.

His dad Colin, 51, said: "He built it by himself, I didn't help too much. It's a great way to learn about our history, do something practical and have fun."

The Pup was popular for its "pleasant flying characteristics" and "good manoeuvrability". It was eventually outclassed by newer German fighters. It was also ideal for use in aircraft carrier deck landing and take-off experiments.

Miss Betteridge, events manager, added: "We have a Sopwith Pup in our new First World War exhibition so there is nothing better than people coming to make a model of something they can see before them. It's a history lesson, a bit of fun and it puts everyone's concentration to the test."

The Shropshire Scale Modellers were also on hand and they said many youngsters had asked them for help with their creations.

The plane was also called the Sopwith Scout, with officialdom disliking the name Pup, thinking it undignified – although this did more than anything else to perpetuate the name Pup in history.

The Cosford exhibition was opened this month by representatives from RAF Museum Trustees, the Heritage Lottery Fund and BAE Systems, which has also supported the initiative, while the London exhibition was unveiled in December.

For more information contact RAF Cosford Museum on (01902) 376252.

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