Campbell Cricket

Campbell Cricket G-AXRA

Registration: G-AXRA
Country of origin: UK
Built: Kit-build Membury Wilts, UK, 1970
Manufacturer: Campbell Aircraft
Constructor's Number: CA.321A
Engine: One 75hp Volkswagen 4 piston engine.

Type: Single seat light autogyro

Note: 33 Crickets were produced by Campbell Aircraft Ltd. between 1969 and 1971.

Details: The Campbell Cricket gyrocopter was developed in the mid 1960s from the original Bensen B-8M single-seat autogyro by enthusiasts Peter Lovegrove and Don Campbell, who had acquired the right to licence-build the US design in the UK.

The Cricket enjoyed a number of improvements, notably the enclosed glassfibre cockpit and the replacement of the original two-stroke powerplant by a modified and more reliable 75hp air-cooled Volkswagen engine. The new variant had a gross weight of 295kg and could cruise at 100kph (62mph) over a distance of up to 290km (180miles) on ordinary 4 star petrol with a consumption of less that 14 litres (3 gall) per hour. Other modifications adopted included stronger engine mounts and metal rotor blades to make the best use of the extra power, a larger fin and rudder to improve control in the air, and direct nose wheel steering to improve control on the ground.

The Campbell Aircraft Company, which began life in a shed in Hungerford, Berkshire assembling 16 B-8Ms for customers, switched to Cricket production in 1969. From the outset most of the components were manufactured by subcontractors, including engines which were built up and modified by Royal Berks Motors in Reading with new twin carburettors and specialised tuning. The rotor blades were manufactured by Permali in Gloucester and the glassfibre nacelles and fuel tanks came from Brealey-Smith in Nottingham. Final assembly was carried out at Membury airfield, Wiltshire.

33 Crickets were produced by Campbell Aircraft Ltd. between 1969 and 1971, with single examples exported to France, Denmark, Norway and Malaysia while six went to Kuwait for shrimp spotting. Selling price in 1970 was around £1645.00 ex-factory. Production ended in 1971 although some kit-builds were produced, subsequently, by Cricket Gyroplanes Ltd. Layzell Gyroplanes Ltd. have also offered self-build replica kits as the 'AV-18', with a Volkswagen or Rotax engine and horizontal stabiliser.

This gyrocopter G-AXRA, completed in November 1969, was the third Cricket to be built. It was first registered to an American academic living in Harlow, Essex, who retained ownership until 1976. G-AXRA was damaged early on in its career and subsequently stored until acquired by The Helicopter Museum from a donor in Cardiff on 4th October 2013.