Peter Jackson Loves More Than Just Hobbits, Has World's Biggest WW1 Plane Collection

Peter Jackson is one of the most famous directors out there, and he brought us two beloved trilogies, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and also much more. But now he turns to his love for the past, and displays world's biggest WW1 plane collection.
Peter Jackson has impressive WWI plane collection 16 photos
Photo: Forces News
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Peter Jackson’s love for both War World One and movies stems from since he was just a young boy. Aged 10, the director made his first film using his parents’ cine camera, and shows a toy plane burst into flames. Then, he and a few friends dressed up as WWI soldiers, and hid in a trench they dug in the garden.

In a new documentary on Forces News called Peter Jackson’s Military Treasures, the critically acclaimed director is showing his magnificent WWI memorabilia. His childhood fascination with the past turned into an obsession that he put a lot of money into.

His secret passion is hiding at a factory, located in the suburbs of New Zealand’s capital of Wellington. There, he also has a warehouse that includes all his precious artifacts.

Jackson comments that his passion for war artifacts is something that he can do to “get my head out of the film stuff.” He further explains that “once you’re in a movie, you’re in it 100%, and it can consume you.” For him, it’s a “good escape” to look at these artifacts, or to read something.

WWI engines
Photo: Forces News
With a net worth of over $500 million, the director has an unrivalled collection which includes aircraft, uniforms, weapons and more from WWI. And, if he doesn’t own something, he’s putting his resources to use, recreating everything from scratch, using 100-year-old engineering techniques and the original blueprints.

Currently, he owns around 70 planes that were used by British Army and the Germans, which are now part of the world's largest collection of WWI planes in existence. But he’s not just using them as pieces in a museum, because his passion goes further than that. People take many of his fighters up in the skies to recreate dogfights like the ones between the British and German forces, flying them at an airfield close to Wellington. He admits: “You strap yourself into one of these planes and take off and, at that point, nothing else in the world matters.”

Jackson’s passion for WWI started with his own father, William, who served in World War Two. However, he didn’t tell him his personal stories about what went on during those times, but told him about his grandfather, also named William, serving in The Great War. He continued: “[In] our bookshelf at home, which didn’t have a huge number of books, but you know, there was a number of First World War books there that dad had bought.” Growing up with people serving in the two wars, he was often surrounded by conversations about them.

The director reveals his first in-flesh experience with WWI planes was when he was 12, and his parents took him to the UK to meet several relatives. So, they visited the Royal Air Force Museum, and he admits he was “pretty obsessed by that stage.”

Peter Jackson's WWI Planes
Photo: Forces News
Mainly focused on the Great War, the collection includes some pieces from War War Two, and some earlier artifacts from the 19th century. It even includes a silk handkerchief that belonged to German fighter pilot ace Manfred von Richthofen, aka The Red Baron.

So, how does the acclaimed director get all the pieces? He shared that he doesn’t “hunt things down all the time,” but he would follow certain auctions that raise his interest.

Some of the planes in his collection don’t exist anywhere else, and he’s been hiring people to build them based on the original blueprints. But he’s “never, ever, ever” used the modern means to improve the designs, he’s keeping it all as it was. “These planes were tested, they were put to extreme flight tests, they were put through combat, and they came out okay. So, there’s no reason to actually improve them.”

His starting point for restoring the planes is the engine, and he explains that “there’s no point building a plane if you haven’t got an engine for it.” So he looks first for the engine, be it in the collection, or search if it can be obtained, or “figure it out from there.”

Peter Jackson's Factory
Photo: Forces NewsForces News
He owns parts of engines like Rolls-Royce Eagle, Hispano-Suiza, and Laron - he even has an original, unused Laron engine, in his original box.

The collection also includes a Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.2B aircraft, which was designed with its engine and propeller at the back, giving the pilot a view of the front so he can shoot better. However, the experimental plane proved to be too slow, and changed its purpose into a bomber at nighttime.

Peter Jackson proves everyone that one can follow childhood passions, if only they have pockets just as big as he does. And one might end up doing something good, saving history for the future generations with one of the biggest WWI collections.

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About the author: Monica Coman
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Imagine a Wenn diagram for cars and celebrities. At the intersection you'll find Monica, putting her passion for these fields and English-Spanish double major to work. She's been doing for the past seven years, most recently at autoevolution.
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