RAF S.E.5.                   Sopwith Triplane


Heavily influenced by the Sopwith Sparrow, the Sopwith Scout, nicknamed 'Pup' was designed by Herbert Smith of the Sopwith Aviation Company in 1916.

The 'Pup' was designed as a single bay single seat fighter of wooden construction covered in doped fabric. The wings were staggered equal span with ailerons to control lateral movement rather than the earlier wing warping technique.

The prototype and initial production models were powered by a Le Rhone 9 rotary engine producing 80 hp, fixed main undercarriage on V-struts and armed with a 0.303" Vickers machine gun synchronised to shoot through the propeller.

During February 1916 the prototype was completed and sent to Upavon for trials in late March. The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) ordered two more prototypes and subsequently placed a production order with deliveries arriving in August 1916 reaching No.8 Squadron RNAS in October 1916.

The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) also ordered the Sopwith Pup and started to receive them December 1916 at No.54 Squadron. Altogether, 1,770 aircraft were built between Sopwith, Standard Motor Company, Whitehead Aircraft and William Beardmore & Co.

The Sopwith 'Pup' was superior over the german aircraft of the day due to its lightweight construction, relative larger wing area, ailerons on both wings resulting in a good rate of climb, excellent agility and maneuverability.

However, by Spring 1917 the 'Pup' had become outclassed by the latest German fighters. The 'Pups' of the RNAS were replaced first by the Sopwith Triplane and then the Sopwith Camel but the RFC squadrons had to make do, suffering increasing casulaties, until December 1917.

In the summer of 1917, two new squadrons of Sopwith 'Pups' were formed for Home Defence, No.112 Squadron in July and No.61 Squadron in August. The later Home Defence 'Pups' were powered by the Gnome Monosoupage engine producing 100 hp providing an improved rate of climb.

On August 2nd of August 1917, a Sopwith 'Pup', piloted by Squadron Commander Edwin Dunning, was the first aircraft to land on a moving ship, HMS Furious. Tragically, Dunning was killed when the 'Pup' fell over the side of the ship at the third landing attempt.

The Sopwith 'Pup' was used as a ship-based aircraft on three carriers, HMS Campania, Furious and Manxman. They were also used on some cruisers and battleships being launched from platforms which were attached to gun turrets.

The 'Pup' was also used extensively as a trainer, with students often graduating to the 'Pup' after basic training in the Avro 504k, and also used for Combat Training.

Specifications: -
Wing Type:Bi-plane
Length:19ft 3.75in (5.89m)
Wingspan:26ft 6in (8.08m)
Height:9ft 5in (2.87m)
Empty Weight:787lb (357kg)
Max. Weight:1,225lb (556kg)
Engine: Le Rhone 9C engine producing 80 hp.
Max. Speed:111mph (179km/h)
Range:186 miles (300km)
Armament: -
Machine Guns:1 x 0.303" Vickers (sync.)
Variants: -

Sopwith 'Pup' Scout
Single seater fighter scout Bi-plane.

Sopwith Admiralty Type 9901
The original Admiralty designation Sopwith 'Pup'.

Sopwith Dove
Two seater civilian version of the Bi-plane.

Alcock Scout
An aircraft which was built from the remains of a crashed 'Pup'.
RAF S.E.5.                   Sopwith Triplane
Sopwith Pup
©Nigel Key Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2007)

'G-EBKY', serial number N9917, was acquired by Richard Shuttleworth in 1936 for future restoration to become part of the Shuttleworth Collection.

The Sopwith Pup was rebuilt to a standard specification single seat fighter Bi-plane powered by a Le Rhone 9 rotary engine and armed with a 0.303" Vickers machine gun.

The Sopwith Pup is part of the Shuttleworth Collection, based at Old Warden, where it can be seen today.

Photographs © Nigel Key, Click thumbnail to enlarge.
Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2010) Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2010) Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2010)
Old Warden 2010
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Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2008) Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2008) Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2008)
Old Warden 2009
Old Warden 2009
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Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2007) Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2007) Sopwith Pup (Old Warden 2007)
Old Warden 2007
Old Warden 2007
Old Warden 2007

Related Links: -
Avro 504 -
Sopwith Triplane -
Shuttleworth Page -
Shuttleworth Gallery Page -
Official Shuttleworth Website -
2011 Airshow Calendar -
Military Airshows in the UK -
Shuttleworth Collection