His­toric Czech bi­plane un­veiled

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS -

The Letecké Muzeum (Avi­a­tion Mu­seum) of the Czech Repub­lic’s Mil­i­tary His­tory Institute at Kbely air­field on the out­skirts of Prague has un­veiled its lat­est re­con­struc­tion−a his­toric Bo­hemia B-5 bi­plane. Dat­ing from the ear­li­est days of the in­de­pen­dent Czechoslov­ak na­tion−which gained its sovereignt­y in late 1918−the two-seat B-5 first flew in April 1919 and is gen­er­ally re­garded as the new Cze­choslo­vakia’s first in­dige­nous air­craft to fly.

It is be­lieved that just one B-5 was com­pleted, pow­ered by a 40hp NAG (Wright) en­gine. It was in­volved in a fa­tal ac­ci­dent dur­ing May 1919 and, fol­low­ing a change of own­er­ship, was even­tu­ally re­built as a glider.

Stored for many years, very lit­tle of the orig­i­nal air­craft sur­vived. Part of the B-5’s fuse­lage struc­ture and other ran­dom com­po­nents were passed to the mu­seum dur­ing 1979. Start­ing in May 2004, staff at

Kbely be­gan the process to build what is es­sen­tially a full-size recre­ation, us­ing some orig­i­nal parts mainly as pat­terns, with the rest being con­tem­po­rary hand­made com­po­nents. The ‘new’ B-5 has now been placed on per­ma­nent in­door dis­play at

Kbely, with much of its air­frame left un­cov­ered to show the struc­ture. The sur­viv­ing fuse­lage frame­work from the orig­i­nal air­craft has been the sub­ject of con­ser­va­tion work and will be kept in its orig­i­nal con­di­tion. Re­port & photo: Malcolm V Lowe

ABOVE: Bo­hemia B-5 replica, rep­re­sent­ing the birth of Czechoslov­ak avi­a­tion at Kbely

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