1910 Wallbro ‘All British’ (replica)

This exhibit

The Wallbro replica was built by Wing Commander Ken Wallis who doubled for James Bond in the flying sequences of the film ‘You Only Live Twice’.

Horace Wallis was the father of the famous Wing Commander Ken Wallis, autogyro builder extraordinaire, among many other things. In 1973 Ken and his cousin Geoffrey, Percival Wallis’s son, set out to record their fathers’ achievement in a tangible way by building a replica of the Wallbro. There were no drawings, only photographs, and Ken, using his considerable engineering skills with his father’s (who featured in the photos) height as a yardstick, scaled up the salient dimensions by extrapolating from the pictures. He thereby determined the dimensions of the steel tubing and obtained some new stock from the original suppliers. It was later very gratifying to come across a contemporary 1910 newspaper report that showed he was spot on!

As an original V4 JAP engine could not be found for the replica it was decided to use a modern flat four McCulloch two-stroke target drone engine which was just the right width to fit between the engine bearers – with a bit of nose weight added to balance the lack of the heavier 1910 power unit.

The replica was completed in August 1978 and first flown that month, by Ken, at RAF Swanton Morley, Norfolk, achieving a straight flight of about a mile at an altitude of between 20 and 30 feet at a speed of 30 mph. He later flew circuits and judged that the aeroplane had “much performance to spare”.

Since then the aircraft has spent many years grounded, first in the hangar at Shipdham Airfield in Norfolk, near Ken’s home, and then on display at the Norfolk & Suffolk Aviation Museum at Flixton until coming to Old Warden in March 2015.

It is privately owned.

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