Sopwith F.1 Camel / 2F.1 Camel / T.F.1
Designed in 1916 it carried two synchronised forward-firing Vickers machine guns as main armament. It was the raised fuselage over the gun breeches that gave rise to the nickname 'Camel'.
A single bay biplane, the two spar wooden wings are fabric covered. The wooden fuselage has metal covering forward of the bottom wings, plywood covering to just aft of the cockpit and fabric covering on the rear fuselage. Ailerons are on all four wings.
On naval Camel 2F.1’s the rear fuselage was detachable to save stowage space.
The first prototype flew in December 1916 and two main versions were produced by a variety of contractors, the F1 and the 2F1 shipboard variant, both powered by no fewer than six different rotary engines at various stages.
Its handling characteristics were a gift to the skilful pilot but could kill the slow or unwary. This made the Camel ideal for daylight combat but versatile enough to allow it to be used as a night fighter and ground attack aircraft. The shipboard 2F1 Camel also saw some success operating against German airships and seaplanes over the North Sea.
The Camel entered service in July 1917 with 4 Squadron RNAS and soon after with 70 Squadron RFC. Their first Camel victory was scored by New Zealander Clive Collett on July 27 1917.
Camels remained in first-line use until the Armistice. The Camel saw extensive service in home defence, over the Western front, in the UK on training and test work until 1923 and in other countries up until 1928. As well as the RFC and RNAS (later RAF) the aircraft was also operated during WWI by French and US squadrons.
The Camel is remembered as the most successful British single-seat fighter of World War I and is credited with 1,294 'kills'. Total Camel production was 5,490, serving also with Belgian and AEF squadrons and with other air forces. It was a Camel that shot down the German ace Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen (the 'Red Baron') at the hands of Captain Roy Brown of No.209 Squadron, RAF, over Sailly-le-Sec on 21 April 1918..
Camels were built in two main versions, the F.1 for the RFC and the 2F.1 for the RNAS with detachable rear fuselage, to save stowage space on board ship, a one foot shorter span and armament of one Vickers and one Lewis gun. Engines fitted as an alternative to the 130 hp Clerget included the 110 hp Clerget, 110 hp Le Rhone and 150 hp B.R.l. The armament was also varied sometimes. Home Defence Camels had two Lewis guns mounted on the wing centre-section. The T.F.1 trench-strafer had two Lewis guns firing through the floor of the cockpit. Four 25-1b. bombs could be carried. Experimental versions were used for everything from dive bombing to training, as two-seaters, and for experiments in using airships as flying aircraft-carriers. One Camel was built with tapered wings.
75% Scale Replica:
Lowther, John Sopwith Camel
100% Scale Replica:
Redfern Sopwith Camel
Engine: 130 hp / 96kW, Clerget 9B rotary
Span: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Length: 18 ft 9 in (5.7 m)
Height: 8 ft 6 in (2.6 m)
Wing area: 231 sq ft (21.5 sq m)
Empty weight: 929 lb (421 kg)
Max take-off weight: 1453 lb (659 kg)
Fuel capacity: 37 Imp.Gal
Range w/max.fuel: 350 km / 217 miles
Max. Speed: 117 mph (188 km/h) at 6000 ft
Ceiling: 19,000 ft (5790 m)
Climb Rate: 10 minutes to reach 10,000 ft (3048 m)
Endurance: 2 hr 30 min
Guns: Two .303 inch Vickers machine guns
Bombs: Four 20-lb Cooper bombs
Engine: 150 hp Bentley B.R.1
Length 18.75 ft (5.7m)
Wingspan 28 ft (8.53m)
Weight empty 929 lb (422 kg)
Max wt: 672kg (1,482 lb)
Armament: Two fixed machine-guns, firing forward 4 x 25 lb. (11 kg.) bombs
Max speed: 115 m.p.h. (185 kph)
Ceiling: 19,000 ft. (5,800 m.) fully loaded
Range: 480km (300 sm)
Height 8 ft 6 in
Wing area 231 sq. ft
Endurance 2.5 hrs