Saturday, April 21, 2007


Old Indian royal plane gets British facelift
Friday, 20 April , 2007, 11:43

London: A vintage World War I British bomber plane, which was discovered by chance in a palace stable in the Indian state of Rajasthan, was unveiled in its fully restored glory in Britain.

The rare de Havilland DH9 fighter plane was unveiled at Duxford, Cambridgeshire on Thursday.

The two-seat biplane - the only one in Britain and one of only six in the world - was discovered by a British traveller, a keen aircraft enthusiast in 1995, from an elephant stable in Bikaner, Rajasthan.

On his return to Britain, he circulated a photograph of it. Guy Black, who runs Aero Vintage, a specialist restoration company in Sussex, visited the Indian palace three years later.

Inquiries led him to the palace's former elephant stables. There, among piles of elephant saddles, was the airframe of the DH9, engineless, its timbers partly eaten by termites and much of its fabric covering missing, the Daily Telegraph reported.

"I could not believe my eyes. The DH9 was the most manufactured bomber during the World War I — they made more than 2,000 of them — but they are as rare as hen's teeth now and there wasn't a single one in a collection in Britain," Black said.

Black also found the remains of three more DH9s that were given by the then British rulers to the maharajah of Bikaner in the early 1920s to help him establish an air force under a post-war imperial gift scheme.

Black bought two of the rotting hulks. He restored one of the planes, which was originally built in 1918 and was the first British bomber to house its bombs in its fuselage, and sold it to the Imperial War Museum in London for £1 million.


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