Museum dedicated to German fighter

Focke-Wulf Museum founder Gilles Kupfer and his replica World War 2 fighter at Wanaka Airport. Photo by Mark Price.
Focke-Wulf Museum founder Gilles Kupfer and his replica World War 2 fighter at Wanaka Airport. Photo by Mark Price.

A museum in a hangar at Wanaka Airport devoted to one of the German Air Force's main fighter aircraft during World War 2 will open to the public for the first time at Easter's Warbirds Over Wanaka Airshow.

The hangar contains a four-fifths scale replica of a Focke-Wulf 190-D9, full-size versions of which fought Spitfires and Hurricanes of the Royal Air Force.

The Focke-Wulf Museum is the dream of Swiss-born Gilles Kupfer, who describes it as ''the project of my life''.

Mr Kupfer (43) sketched his first Focke-Wulf at the age of 16 and then, in 1999, began building his replica in a small space between two houses in his home town of Veytaux.

He started with ''zero money'' and spent 14,000 hours over five years crafting every piece of the aircraft himself, aside from the engine, which is Russian-made.

Capable of 500kmh, his replica flew for the first time in Switzerland in 2007.

Mr Kupfer moved himself and his replica to Wanaka after getting to know pilots who flew vintage aircraft in the warbirds airshow.

His hangar also contains the parts for his latest project, a full-size 190-D9, likely to take him another five years to complete.

Using a family inheritance, he bought his hangar but lives in a backpackers hostel in Wanaka. He says his dreams are about flying, rather than making millions of dollars.

Focke-Wulf fighters were flown by Luftwaffe ace Hans Dortenmann, credited with 38 victories from 150 combat missions.

mark.price@odt.co.nz

That Focke was no Friendship

Good Kraftwerk, but sons of Commonwealth airmen know all about Bandits at 2 O'Clock. Do not Dornier, young chap, and was Fokker the same manufacturer?