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Sopwith F.1 Camel

The Aircraft On Display

The Museum's Camel is a 3/4-scale replica of the famous Great War (World War I) British fighter made, like the Demoiselle and the Bristol Tourer, by Frank Matthews of Maddington, WA. However, its engine is one of those used for the Camel, being a Le Rhone 9J donated by Sir Norman Brearley. Comments at MyAviation.net indicate that the propellor is also original, made for fitting to a 130hp Clerget engine on a Sopwith Camel.

Type / History

Type Single-seat fighter
Manufacturer original: Sopwith Aircraft Company
replica: Frank Matthews, Maddington, WA
Designer T.O.M. Sopwith, Fred Sigrist and Harry Hawker
Introduced July 1917
Retired 1918
Primary users RAF, RAN
Number built 5,490
Variants 2F.1, Naval version


Along with the S.E.5, the Camel was the Royal Flying Corps' main fighter aircraft in the latter years of the Great War (World War I). While it was not a fast or powerful aircraft, its compact form and the turning effect gained from its rotary engine made it highly manoeuvrable, ensuring that a competent pilot could easily evade and turn behind an attacking aircraft. On the other hand, these characteristics made it tricky for beginners to handle, and the accident rate for inexperienced pilots was high.

The Camel also was the first British fighter to be armed with twin Vickers machine guns. The fairing on the fuselage in which they were mounted had the appearance of a hump, giving the aircraft its common name.

As evidence of its success, the Camel also appeared in night fighter form, and a modified version was also used by the Royal Navy.

General Characteristics

General characteristics

Length: 18 ft 9 in (5.71 m)
Height: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Wingspan 28 ft 0 in (8.53 m)
Powerplant: 130 HP Clerget rotary, less commonly 150 HP B.R.1,
110 HP Le Rhone or 100 HP Gnome Monosoupape
Weight: empty 929 lb (421 kg), loaded 1,453 lb (659 kg)

 

Performance

Maximum speed: 115 mph
Range: 2 hour endurance
Service ceiling: 19,000 ft (5,800 m)
Rate of climb: 6 minutes to 6,500 ft (1,980 m)

 

Armament

Guns: 2 Vickers machine guns