Gloster Gamecock reproduction
The Gloster Gamecock first flew in 1925 and was the RAF's last wooden fighter, serving with several front-line squadrons. No complete Gamecock survives, but Jet Age Museum’s reproduction Gamecock I is nearing completion in our workshop at the Tithe Barn Centre in Brockworth, not far from the site of the former Gloster Aircraft Company’s factory-airfield.
Rear fuselage sections of two Finnish-built Gamecocks survive in museums in Finland, but apart from a handful of components that is all. The reproduction is a remarkable achievement because hardly any original Gamecock drawings have survived either. The few original drawings available were for the Finnish version, widely differing from the RAF version and with all captions in Finnish.
Our design team was led by the late Roff T Jones, a former Gloster senior designer and engineer who had joined the company in 1937. He brought together a team of veteran designers and draughtsmen. Working from the surviving Finnish drawings, known dimensions for the RAF Gamecock I, the chance discovery of an original spares manual and a limited range of other sources, Roff and his team produced a priceless set of many hundred construction drawings to the highest possible standard.
The drawings were passed to the late Barry Denton, who led the construction team. Volunteers got to work in workshops and sheds around the county and in August 1998 at Staverton a basic fuselage and tail unit, with engine, propeller and undercarriage, was dedicated by Ida Whitaker, daughter of Gloster company founder AW Martyn, on her 100th birthday.
The Gamecock then had to go into store when the Jet Age hangar at Staverton was redeveloped, but it was moved to the Tithe Barn Centre in 2007, when the workshop there became available, and work resumed.
A few compromises have been made - the rigging wires are circular rather than streamline section due to cost, and plywood is used instead of asbestos for the firewall - but otherwise it is pretty much spot on. The engine is on loan from the RAF Museum and was reconditioned by Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. The propeller is original, as are one interplane strut and two inter-aileron struts, one of them restored after it had been sharpened as a fence post.
The Gamecock reproduction is being finished as J7904 of 43 Squadron as flown by the squadron commander, complete with black and white chequers on the rear fuselage spine.
Many detailed photographs of the Jet Age Gamecock under construction are featured in “Gloster Grebe and Gamecock” by Tim Kershaw, published by MMP Books in April 2011 - see website page The Museum