First World War fighter planes to be displayed in city centre

Caption: An Eastchurch Kitten First World War bi-plane will feature in the exhibition on May 21.

For one day only, two First World War bi-planes will be showcased in the heart of Leeds city centre next week as part of a special exhibition.

In what promises to be a unique event, an RAF built example of a 1914 BE2c fighter and a recently restored replica 1917 PV8 Eastchurch Kitten from the Yorkshire Air Museum Collection at Elvington will be displayed on Victoria Gardens outside Leeds Art Gallery on Wednesday 21 May from 8.30am until 6pm. Included throughout the day, will be the opportunity for visitors to hear sounds not heard for almost 100 years, as a live engine run of the Eastchurch Kitten is set to take place on the hour.

Set to feature in the exhibition are live re-enactors representing men and women who fought through the war, and they will be on hand to talk to visitors, passers-by and school children throughout the event.

The 1914 BE2c fighters were part of the first three Royal Flying Corps Squadrons sent to France at the outbreak of the war. Many of the aircraft were built under licence by the Blackburn Aircraft Company in Leeds and the plane exhibited outside the art gallery will carry the famous 1914 Blackburn Logo. The 1917 PV78 Eastchurch Kitten was a very tiny aircraft, intended to be launched from ships in the English Channel to intercept Zeppelin airships making their way to British town and cities. Only one Eastchurch Kitten was ever built, and it was later withdrawn as its design was not considered suitable.

This display will form part of the city’s centenary commemoration of the First World War, which began in August 1914.

For more information on Leeds Museums and Galleries First World War Programme, please see: www.leeds.gov.uk/ww1heritage

Further details regarding the Yorkshire Air Museum can be found at: http://www.yorkshireairmuseum.org/

Councillor Graham Hyde, Leeds City Council's chair of the armed forces member champion group said:

"The First World War left an indelible mark on our city, region and country, and we feel both proud and privileged to host this exhibition, which forms part of the Yorkshire Air Museum’s commemoration of the First World War.

“Visitors will have the chance as part of the event to see outside Leeds Art Gallery two First World War fighter planes, and also on the hour listen to a live engine run of the Eastchurch Kitten which really does promise to be something not to be missed.

"With live re-enactors also representing men and women who experienced the First World War in different roles at the exhibition, this will provide an opportunity to find out more and be given an insight into their lives during the conflict."

Ian Reed, Director of Yorkshire Air Museum said:

"We are delighted to help begin these four years of commemoration with such a unique event, to remember so many people who gave so much for our country 100 years ago.

"In 1914 Britain went to war with 113 aeroplanes. By the end we had over 4000, but 9800 airmen had been killed. In April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force, the first air force in the world, which has served our country well for the last 96 years, and continues to do so."

Notes to editors:

For more information on the global commemoration of the First World War Centenary, please see the Imperial War Museums website at: http://www.1914.org/ or the University of Leeds: www.arts.leeds.ac.uk/legaciesofwar

For media enquiries, please contact;

Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578

Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk