Way back in June of last year (2013), I (Graham) spoke to David Hassard of the Kingston Aviation Centenary Project about attending a couple of their mini-exhibitions in the Kingston Borough's libraries, both as a volunteer to guide people through the materials, but also to bring along my collection of 1/48th scale Harriers. It was an opportunity for my own self-aggrandisement in displaying my model collection outside of the Harrier IPMS SIG. In the run up to the actual days, David asked me if I or anyone I knew could help with filling the gap in the project's current model exhibits of Sopwith aircraft. Having explained that 1/24th scale would not be possible due to the lack of kits, we agreed to go for 1/32nd rather than 1/48th, allowing us to choose 4 Wingnut Wings kits and 2 Academy kits. All we needed then was someone to build them. There was only 1 place to go - the West Middlesex Scale Model Club. After some discreet lobbying and sounding out, 5 good men and true were found, ready to take on the task: Brian Boot; Chris Shepherd (IPMS Farnborough); Dave Haskell; Dave Turner; and Tony Horton.
The Kingston Aviation Centenary Project was set up in 2012 to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the first aircraft built in Kingston upon Thames and the subsequent 100 years of aircraft designed and built there by Sopwith Aviation, H.G.Hawker Engineering, Hawker Aircraft, Hawker Siddeley and finally British Aerospace (1977-1992).Sponsored by the ex-employees' Hawker Association and supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the project volunteers had by mid 2013 met all their initial aims. They organised an Aviation Festival in Kingston Market Place, held a "Kingston Aircraft" art exhibition in Kingston Museum and have taken a travelling exhibition around the Borough. Links have also been established with local schools and some 80 illustrated talks have been given to clubs, societies and organisations of all kinds with over 2,000 people attending. A high-quality website, Kingstonaviation.org
, has been created and is growing in content day by day. Interviewers have been trained to record oral histories of experiences of working in Kingston’s aviation industry. These, together with "Hawker People" photo galleries, are progressively going up onto the website. There are “Documentary slideshows” of Kingston’s aviation story. With support from the Council, local businesses and over 100 volunteers, all this has been achieved within the grant and it was decide to spend the small remaining funds to focus on the Sopwith Aviation Co. and its part in the First World War. A detailed diary of the growth of the Company is being researched and communicated via historical newsletters (which can also be read on the website at "100 Years Ago"). The rest of the money is going into creating exhibition material initially for use in Kingston Museum’s "1914 Remembering Kingston at War" exhibition which runs from 16th May to 16th August, 2014. Some of this money was used to fund the kits and paints - all we had to do (easy to say when not building one) was to put them together. Aside from their display in the exhibition, they may yet go on the road and hopefully will have a permanent resting place when their touring days are over.
The six models can be seen packed and ready to go below, accompanied by the five happy smiling modellers who made them. See "The Final Models" gallery for details and photographs of the individual kits and "Work In Progress" for some photos of some of the models being constructed, just in case you have not had the opportunity to see Wingnut Wings kits in detail.
As the "facilitator" of the build within the club, can I just say a very big thank you to Brian, Chris S, Dave H, Dave T, and Tony for all their blood, sweat and tears in producing 6 competition standard models - super job - and we have a very happy customer.