The Sopwith Camel's design intention was to replace the Sopwith 'Pup' Scout, with the prototype being flown on the 22nd of December 1916 by Harry Hawker.
The prototype was powered by a Clerget 9Z engine producing 110 hp and was known as the 'Big Pup' in its early development.
The fuselage was manufactured from a square section structure covered in doped fabric, the engine had an Aluminum cowling, plywood covered panelling around the cockpit and fabric covered wings and tail.
Twin synchronised 0.303" Vickers machine guns were fitted in front of the cockpit which fired through the propeller.
A metal fairing was fitted over the breeches of the machines guns which produced a 'hump' which led to the aircraft being called the Camel.
The Sopwith Camel gained a reputation as being difficult to fly which was due to the placement of the engine, guns and fuel tank resulting in 90% of the weight being within the front seven feet of the aircraft.
The difficult handling characteristics were also extenuated by the strong gyroscopic effect of the rotary engine making it particularly difficult for students to fly.
The Clerget 9Z engine was very sensitive to fuel mixture with incorrect control often leading the engine to choke and cut out with many crashes occuring during take off.
The Camel was tail heavy so the pilot had to apply constant forward pressure to the stick to maintain level flight at low altitude. The aircraft could be set-up to fly level at higher altitude so the pilot could fly 'hands off', however, should the Camel stall it would immediately go into a spin.
|Specifications (F-1): -|
|Length:||18ft 9in (5.71m)|
|Wingspan:||26ft 11in (8.53m)|
|Height:||8ft 6in (2.59m)|
|Empty Weight:||930lb (420kg)|
|Max. Weight:||1,455lb (660kg)|
|Engine:||Clerget 9B engine producing 130 hp.|
|Max. Speed:||115mph (185km/h)|
|Range:||300 miles (485km)|
|Machine Guns:||2 x 0.303" Vickers|
Sopwith Camel F-1
A single seat fighter armed with twin synchronised 0.303" Vickers machine guns which was the main production version.
Sopwith Camel 2F-1
A modified version as a shipboard fighter with a slightly reduced wingspan. It was fitted with a Bentley BR1 engine and one Vickers gun replaced by an overwing Lewis gun.
Sopwith Camel 'Comic' Night Fighter
Pilot seat moved to rear. The twin Vickers guns were replaced with two Lewis guns firing forward over the top wing on Foster mountings. Served with Home Defence Squadrons against German air raids. The "Comic" nickname was unofficial, and was shared with the night fighter version of the Sopwith 1½ Strutter.
Sopwith Camel F-1/1
A version with tapered wings.
Sopwith Camel TF-1
An experimental aircraft with downward angled machine guns for straffing ground targets. Armour plating was fitted to protect the pilot and vital parts of the aircraft.
Reference to Wikipedia.
'F6034' Sopwith F-1 Camel which is displayed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden is currently constructing a 1918 Sopwith Camel Replica which is being built at Northern Aeroplane Workshops.