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Was the Sopwith Snipe an Improvement Over the Sopwith Camel?

By cam in Technology
Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 09:30:21 AM EST
Tags: Focus On... (all tags)
Focus On...

An issue in World War I aviation history which gets revisited occasionally is the question of the Sopwith Snipe as successor to the Sopwith Camel. In particular one prominent World War I Aviation historian has put forward that the Sopwith Snipe was not up to 1918 or 1919 standards for performance and would have resulted in the Sopwith Snipe Squadrons failing operationally through 1919. The alternative viewpoint is that the Sopwith Snipe allowed the allied squadrons to meet the German fighters and in particular the Fokker DVII scout[1] on equal terms at heights where the Sopwith Camel was outclassed.

The Sopwith Camel

The Sopwith Camel was a dogfighter in the same manner that the modern General Dynamics F16 Fighting Falcon is. The Sopwith Camel was inherently unstable with the weight of the engine, the pilot, the twin machine guns and the fuel in a small area around the center of gravity. To add to this the rotary engine's torque meant that the aircraft turned rapidly to the right. The P-factor of the big, slow rotating propeller caused the nose of the Camel in right turns to dip and in left hand turns raise the nose. The Sopwith Camel like most Sopwith designs was also blessed with an undersized rudder which gave little lateral authority to the pilot. In the hands of a skilled pilot, this instability of the Sopwith Camel meant it was a highly maneuverable aircraft only rivaled by the famed "Red Barons" aircraft, the Fokker Dr.I Triplane[2].

The Sopwith Camel "Cadet Killer"

The legend of the Sopwith Camel is that it killed as many trainees as it did score victories over opposition aircraft. Arthur Cobby was one trainee pilot that achieved ace status, he recorded his first flight of the Sopwith Camel in his memoirs;

"... and after several flights in a [Sopwith] Pup, I was sent off in the rather frightening Camel. The machine had a bad name as so many fellows, even experienced pilots managed to get piled up in them. And you could not be trained by anyone else in their tricks, only by word of mouth on the ground as they were single seaters. ..... So I duly went off in one, and the experience was strange. It climbed unusually fast without my help. Not only that but I seemed to be going straight ahead and the ground passed by slightly sideways, until some time later the aerodrome appeared in front of me again, so I glided in and landed. Longton told me I just went slowly round in a large circle in a flat turn, and he also corrected the foot pressure fault that caused it."

Many modern historians believe the main cause of accidents was the tail heavy nature of the Sopwith Camel which they were rigged in. As the Camel left the ground it required a fuel mixture adjustment, many inexperienced pilots would look down to adjust mixture and the tail heavy nature of the Sopwith Camel would cause it to climb to a stall. The aircraft would then spin into the ground, possibly killing its pilot. Many of the photos of crashes which seemed to be a favorite subject for servicemen with cameras show the wings twisted around the fuselage which suggests a spin over a crash.

In the Hands of an Ace

Once a pilot had mastered the flight characteristics of the Camel, the quirks were put to good use in combat. Aces disproportionately contribute to the Sopwith Camel's victory totals. One area the Camel lacked was in speed, the Australian ace Edgar McCloughry wrote of the Camel's lack of speed,

"I at once turned but they did not wait, one of the horrible characteristics of a camel being, as I will describe later, that it is unable to catch any other machine with the exception of the Fokker Triplane on the level."


"One word on the 'Camel': There is not one pilot in the squadron who would not argue to the end for a Camel. Although slow, she could get around anything, also one could not run away from anything, which rather aimed for success."

Which is a polite way of saying it was unable to outrun anything and a Sopwith Camel pilot if cornered or trapped would have to fight his way out of the situation or engagement. Arthur Cobby another Australian ace also commented on the inability of the Sopwith Camel to catch and engage enemy aircraft;

"In this manner we accounted for a few of the enemy, but they could dive faster than our Camels. Unless we got close to them early in their dive, they would just keep on diving and so get away. ... If we were only able to encourage the enemy to get in a dogfight, things were easy, as a Camel could out maneuver anything."

It should be noted that different allied air forces received Sopwith Camels with different engines. The Royal Naval Air Service received Camels with 150 hp Bentleys, while the Royal Flying Corps, Australian Flying Corps and United States Air Services received 130-140 Hp Clergets of different strokes. The RNAS definitely got the best engines and the highest performing Sopwith Camels of the air services which used it operationally.

The SE5a and Spad XIII Energy Fighters

The allied contemporaries to the Sopwith Camel in scout and fighter design where the British SE5a and the French Spad XIII. The SE5a rivaled the Camel in the number of British squadrons which used the aircraft operationally, further the SE5a was used by the Australian Flying Corps and the United States Air Service as well as the British Flying Services. The main fighter of the L'Aeronautique Militaire[3] and the United States Air Service was the Spad XIII. Both the SE5a and Spad XIII were developments of 1916 designs like the Camel was. However the SE5a and Spad both used the Hispano-Suiza engine which was a water cooled V8.

The Hispano Suiza was a powerful water cooled engine of Spanish design which in 1916 was producing 200 hp in comparison to the Mercedes 160 hp. Even in 1918, the high compression BMW engines which were prized by the Luftstrietkrafte[4] were 185 hp. This gave the allied energy fighters a huge advantage. The experienced SE5a and Spad pilots told new pilots not to dogfight with Fokker Triplanes, instead the pilot would get height on the Triplane and then dive through it firing and then climb above for another run. This is also commonly known as energy fighting or boom and zoom tactics.

The Sopwith Camel, like its predecessors from the Sopwith factories, used a rotary engine. The rotary engine was an extremely lightweight solution as it was air cooled. The downside, which became a benefit in the Sopwith Camel, was the rotary engine rotated with all cylinders spinning at the same rpm as the propeller adding the handling of the engines rotational torque to the aircraft's stability. The other component of a rotary engine was that it was a complete loss system with the oil being mixed with the petrol as part of the combustion process. In World War I the best lubricant was Castor Oil in rotary engines. A common myth is that the pilots all got the runs from consuming the castor oil. This doesn't seem to be the case from historical records or modern empirical observations.

After the shock of Bloody April in 1917[5] when the German Albatros Scout wreaked havoc on the British Front, the British re-organized themselves into Wing formations and equipped their squadrons with aircraft such as the SE5a and Camel. The French were less effected by Bloody April as their aircraft weren't as obsolete as the BE and FE aircraft the British were flying in large numbers. Plus throughout the war the French aviation forces enjoyed large numerical advantage due to the sheer size and the innovation of the French aviation industries. The United States Air Service organized themselves in the French manner, having superiority of numbers locally but the USAS did not adopt the highly aggressive British doctrine of engaging the Luftstrietkrafte deep in German airspace. The Luftstrietkrafte organizing into Jadgdeschwaders[6] to obtain local air superiority required the British to re-organize their local forces into Wings to maintain numerical superiority along with the British offensive doctrine.

The Sopwith Snipe Specification

It was in this environment the British Air Board wrote the specification for the Type 1.a in 1917 for what would become the Sopwith Snipe. The type 1.a specification required that the aircraft would be capable of 135 mph at 15,000 ft and a climb rate of not greater than 10 minutes between 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet. The specification was obviously for a scout aircraft to replace the Sopwith Camel and RAF SE5a.

In 1916 Sopwith had achieved a quantum jump between generations of fighters in the Sopwith Pup to the Sopwith Camel. It is possible they assumed that their next generation of rotary fighter would have the same jump in performance, subsequently they designed a rotary engined fighter with the 230 hp Bentley that was typical to Sopwith designs in having little rudder authority and being tail heavy. The problem was that the Sopwith Snipe wasn't the same level of increase in performance as the Camel over the Pup. Fortunately its main competitor which was to replace the SE5a, the Martinsyde Buzzard, a 400 hp energy fighter was facing similar engine development difficulties. It originally was assumed that the Sopwith Snipe would be powered by the 320 hp ABC Dragonfly radial but the Dragonfly was a failure as an engine and was not put into production.

The Sopwith Snipe went through numerous revisions before being put into production for operational deliveries. Its rudder surface area was increased as were the tailplanes, and the ailerons were balanced to give greater roll control. However as the Camel was having difficulty with the new Fokker DVII scouts the Sopwith Snipe was rushed into production and the initial operational squadrons received the Snipes with undersized rudders and unbalanced ailerons.

The Sopwith Camel Outclassed by the Fokker DVII

The Sopwith Camel in 1918 was outclassed once it met the Fokker DVII at height. The Fokker DVII was a remarkable aviation design for its time incorporating the thick airfoil design which gave the Fokker DVII stable stall capabilities[7] and allowed average pilots to fly closer to the edge of the flying envelope. In comparison the Camel, SE5a and Spad had very thin airfoils in an attempt to maximize speed. The Spad in particular was known for dropping out of the sky once it lost airspeed, in the words of the American Ace Ray Brooks, "It flew like a brick". This was due to the Spad's thin airfoil's low tolerance for lack of airflow across it. The Sopwith Camel with it's concentrated weight and torque heavy rotary engine was more likely to stall and spin when it exceeded it's flight envelope, whereas the Spad fell out of the air. Spads, unlike most other aircraft of the time had to be landed under power due to its high stall speed.

The Fokker DVII's thick airfoil was one of the great engineering advances in aviation in World War I and gave the DVII an advantage at height despite its underpowered 160 hp BMW and Mercedes engines. Later in the Fokker DVII's operational life it received high compression 185 horsepower engines[8] which gave it an even greater advantage at heights greater than 12,000 feet. At this height the SE5as and Spads were the only aircraft capable of competing with the Fokker DVII on an equal level. The Sopwith Camel was outclassed by the DVII, Arthur Cobby related the problems faced;

"We had not come into contact with it [Fokker DVII] to any extent as most of our patrol work was being done at lower altitude, but our fellow Australians in No.2 [No.2 Sqn Australian Flying Corps] were continually meeting them. Their SE5a's could get to greater heights than our Camels, which were at their best up to about 12,000 ft. We could get much higher of course, but the performance fell off rapidly above this level, and against the new Fokker, would put up an indifferent show. Later on we did meet them up higher and managed by sheer hard flying to hold our own, but unless one was an exceptional good pilot the odds were definitely not good."

Arthur Cobby was a member of 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps which was one of three squadrons to be re-equipped with the Sopwith Snipe before the armistice. The other two squadrons were 43 squadron Royal Air Force and 208 Squadron Royal Air Force.[9] No. 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps was re-equipped with the Sopwith Snipe on the 4th of October 1918, giving just over one month of operations with Sopwith Snipe before the armistice. The squadron is also the best to determine the effectiveness of the Sopwith Camel in comparison to the Sopwith Snipe as they produced several leading Camel and Snipe aces and through 1918 and where the highest averaging Sopwith Camel squadron on the Northern Front in terms of victories per month.

The Snipe Replaces the Camel at 4 Squadron AFC

The Sopwith Snipe was met in No.4 Squadron with approval, through many of the pilots were sad to give up the quirks of the Sopwith Camel which had made them such devastating dogfighters. The pilots were aware of the benefits of the Sopwith Snipe over the Camel. The C Flight commander John "Jack" Wright wrote;

"Here, 4th Sqd. exchanged its Camels for Sopwith 'Snipes', then the last word on the British side in Scout and Fighter design. It was really a larger edition of the 'Camel', but without the 'hump' which gave the Camel its name. Powered with 200 hp Bentley Rotary engines ( which developed 260 hp at 1400 revs ) they had a ceiling of 19000 feet and a top speed of about 127 mph, flying level with a war load. This gave them a slight advantage in speed over the Fokker, but we still could not get as high as the Fokkers. They were of slightly more robust construction than the Camel, but were a little less maneuverable. However. their rate of climb was better than the Camel, a ceiling of 15000 feet could be reached in 30 minutes, a Camel took upwards of 45 minutes."

Notice Wright's statement in claiming the Snipe was unable to get to the same height as the Fokker DVII's. This is a result of the DVII's thick airfoil and inline engine design giving it greater high altitude performance. The rotary engines had great difficulty as height increased because of the density of oxygen reducing with altitude. An oxygen starved rotary was an inefficient engine. Wright however mentioned the quantitative improvements the Snipe gave over the Camel particularly in respect to climb. The ability to get to height quickly before crossing the front lines meant greater time could be spent in an offensive patrol in German airspace.

The addition of the Sopwith Snipes to 80 Wing RAF[10] which 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps was a part of, entailed 80 Wing changing it's wing sweep formations. Previously the Wing had placed either the SE5a aircraft of No.2 Sqn AFC or No.92 Sqn RAF in the highest position of the sweep with the Sopwith Camels of No.4 Sqn AFC and No.43 Sqn RAF in the lowest positions. With the Sopwith Snipe 4 Sqn AFC became the highest component of the sweep formation being utilized in a role the Sopwith Camel was unable to fulfill.

Factory Performance Figures vs Field Observation

One of the common derogatory comments against the Sopwith Snipe is that it was offered 1917 performance in late 1918. This is true when compared to allied fighters, the SE5a and Spad were capable of 140 mph in 1916 while the Snipe was only good for 120-130 mph in late 1918. In 1919 the Martinsyde Buzzard with it's 400 hp engine would have been even faster, most likely topping 150 mph. However the Sopwith Snipe was not designed to be an energy fighter, it was a dogfighter, plus the German aircraft it was facing were slower than the Sopwith Snipe. Due to German industry lacking resources from the Royal Navy's blockade, no German aircraft would have improved in their speed capability significantly in 1919.

The Fokker DVII the powerful BMW 185 hp engine was capable of 122 mph, the Fokker DVIII monoplane was capable of 115 mph at sea level which would suggest a performance of under 100 mph at height. The DVIII's performance was in many respects no better than the Sopwith Camel or Fokker Triplane. The Albatros DV and Pfalz DXII were both only capable of 110 to 120 mph. The Sopwith Snipe in comparison had a published performance figure of 120 mph at 10,000 feet which places the speed performance of the Sopwith Snipe in a similar area to the Snipe's German opponents. It is obvious though from these figures the speed advantage the SE5a, Spad and the Italian Ansaldo Ballila[11] pilots enjoyed over their opposition.

It is worth reviewing the Sopwith Camel's published speed results. The trials for the Sopwith Camel was done with an 150 hp Bentley of which only the Royal Naval Air Service squadrons were equipped. The RAF, AFC and USAS squadrons equipped with the Sopwith Camel had 130 or 140 hp Clergets. The Bentley trials gave the Camel a top speed of 114 mph at 15,000 feet while the Snipe at the same height had a speed of 113 mph. However this statistic is meaningless as the Sopwith Camel was obsolete in comparison to the Fokker DVII above 12,000 feet. As Cobby wrote the performance of the Sopwith Camel deteriorated rapidly from that height on. George Jones another Australian wrote in a post-war staff college report;

"The Squadron[4 Sqn AFC] was equipped, in the first instance, with Clerget Camels and it continued to use this type until eight weeks before the Armistice, when it was re-equipped with Sopwith Snipe. It was, I believe, the second Squadron to receive them, and is therefore one of the few Squadrons which enjoyed their superiority over the Fokker D7."

This leaves little doubt that the pilots in the squadron believed from their experiences that the Sopwith Snipe was superior to the Fokker whereas pilots in the same squadron considered the Sopwith Camel obsolete in a dogfight with a Fokker above 12,000 feet.

After the war 4 Sqn AFC served in Cologne as part of the occupational forces which were testing German technologies against their own. John Wright relates one conversation he had with a German pilot at Bickendorff;

"While at Bickendorff in Cologne where 14 other British Squadrons were stationed as part of the Occupational Forces, the pilots were testing their equipment against captured German equipment, Wright wrote; "One German pilot, swaggering with three decorations which had been awarded him for his skill in shooting down a number of British machines, on viewing for the first time this aerial exhibition of British machines at Bickendorff, asked open-mouthed the name of the type of 'plane with which 4 Sqn was equipped. When informed they were Sopwith Snipes, he remarked with heart felt emphasis; 'I thank God I did not meet any of them before the Armistice.'"

The State of Testing and Quality Control

The testing figures for all the World War I aircraft can be doubted as to their accuracy, they were at best an honest attempt to obtain quantitative data from an industry that, while high tech for its era, was still a craftsman's industry that produced one off products. Quality Control was by visual inspection with jigs and templates which, while rigorous, still allowed lemons out of the factories and gave high variance to the machines which reached operations. As an example one squadron received an aircraft whose wings flexed. Naturally none of the pilots liked flying it. They stripped the aircraft down to discover that the aircraft's wing timbers were oil soaked. The squadron struck the aircraft off strength.

As the machines were simple construction of timber, wire and dope painted linen, it allowed for pilots to hot rod their aircraft as well. One naval pilot borrowed the aircraft of Robert Little and was shocked to see his landing speed to be 10 mph higher than normal, it turned out Little had lowered his seat to lower the center of gravity so that he could go into a dive faster. An aircraft that is 1000 lb, moving a 200 lb pilots location in the aircraft can change its flight characteristics significantly.

Of all the World War I qualitative tests it is my opinion that the speed figures for both the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane are the most at odds with observations and writings of both pilots from World War I and modern replica pilots. The Sopwith Camel in particular was known for it's lack of speed. Comparing the Sopwith Snipe and Sopwith Camel purely on the basis of climb and speed data from the period paints an incomplete picture as the test data is in contradiction to the observations of the pilots who flew those aircraft in World War I.

There is one area of performance figure where the Sopwith Snipe did show its 1919 performance and that is in the area of Weight to Power ratio's. This is a figure which shows an aircraft's ability to accelerate which can be especially useful at the end of an energy draining maneuver as acceleration is what gets the aircraft it's speed back. The Sopwith Snipe had a weight to power ratio of 8.98 from 2020 lbs over 230 hp. In other words every horsepower was pulling 8.98 pounds of weight through the air. The Sopwith Camel had ratio of 10.77 for the 140 hp Clerget. Some other comparisons, the Spad had a ratio of 9.44, the SE5a had a ratio of 9.7, the Bristol Fighter a ratio of 10.18, the Fokker DVII a ratio of 10.48 and the Albatros D.Va a ratio of 11.47.

November 4th 1918. 4 Squadron AFC meets Jasta Boelcke

Where the Sopwith Camel was failing the allied forces was in combat with Fokker DVII aircraft at height. The Sopwith Snipe did solve this issue for the allied squadrons who were equipped with the Snipe. The Australian squadron in the final weeks of World War I claimed twenty-one aircraft Destroyed, one Balloon Destroyed and fifteen Out of Control. Of these thirty-seven victories, thirty-five of them were against Fokker DVII's. This suggests that from operational claims, the squadron enjoyed a superiority over the Fokker DVII. During that period of claims the squadron lost three pilots killed and three pilots as Prisoners Of War. Of those six losses, five of them occurred on one day.

November 4th was a very black day for 4 Squadron as they lost five pilots from their mess room in two offensive operations. Most references place the losses from the Australian squadron in two combats with the elite German fighter squadron, Jasta Boelcke who was active opposite the Australians. However of the six losses only three can be ascribed to Jasta Boelcke. Of the morning combats the losses of Lt Goodson and Lt Rhodes as POWs are both given to the German ace Karl Bolle, however both Australian pilots in the repatriation papers[12] said they were shot down by German anti-aircraft fire. Goodson's in particular makes for remarkable reading;

"I was one of a patrol of four machines that left the aerodrome at Ennetieres at 9 am on the 4th of November 1918, led by 2/Lieut Cato, to do a line patrol. Whilst patrolling the line we were being shelled by anti-aircraft guns from the German artillery. When at 13,000 feet I was hit in my lateral controls and bottom of control lever. The machine immediately went into a left hand spin from which it did not recover. When at about 3,000 feet, I received two more direct hits under the right wing. I spun into the canal between two bridges in the centre of Tournai. One wing of the machine was carried away by the bridge and the machine became a total wreck on striking the water. I was pulled out of the canal by some German soldiers. I was wounded slightly by a piece of shell in the head and badly shaken by the fall of the machine. "

Rhodes statement included;

"Whilst on patrol, East of Tournai, under orders of the Squadron Commander, strong enemy resistance, and heavy anti-aircraft gunfire was experienced. The engine of my machine was damaged, and became unworkable, whereupon I was attacked by a Fokker biplane and brought down in the vicinity of the town of Tournai. "

This was most likely the Fokker DVII of Karl Bolle ensuring that Rhodes would be unable to return to his aerodrome. The afternoon battles offer good comparison as at the time 4 Sqn AFC was the leading squadron on the front in the British and Dominion forces and Jasta Boelcke was the leading German Jasta of the period. An 11.40 am flight of eleven Sopwith Snipe aircraft while escorting bombers backed to allied lines noticed they were being tailed by fifteen Fokker DVII aircraft. The Australian aircraft were led by Roy King a 26 victory ace, and the German aircraft by Karl Bolle a 36 victory ace.

Once the bombers were safely across the lines the Sopwith Snipes climbed to meet the Fokkers. In the dogfight three Australian pilots were killed. These weren't young inexperienced pilot's either, Baker had 12 victories, Palliser 8 victories and Sims 4 victories. Baker was a flight commander as well. Of these three losses the Bolle claimed two and the another Jasta Boelcke ace, Ernst Bormann claimed one which was his sixteenth victory. The Australians claimed three victories, two destroyed in flames and one out of control. The two destroyed claims came from the Australian aces Roy King and George Jones.

There is no correlation in German losses for the day however this is not unusual as the Luftstrietkrafte only recorded a loss if the pilot was wounded, killed or taken prisoner. A destroyed aircraft with a pilot that survived the crash would not be recorded even if the aircraft was written off. As 80% of the fighting took place over German territory gaining confirmation of a claim for Squadrons operating on the British Front was often impossible. Victories were awarded to pilots and observers if they were witnessed by another aircraft in the air or a ground observer witnessed the combat and outcome.

About the only conclusion from November 4th battles that can be made is 4 Squadron AFC had no peers on their front other than Jasta Boelcke. At that period of time Jasta Boelcke was the elite scout squadron in the German forces. There is also no doubting from 4 Squadrons operational record that in the last five weeks of the war they enjoyed superiority over the Fokker DVII in a manner that the Sopwith Camel was unable to give them.


The Sopwith Snipe allowed the Allied squadrons in late 1918 to face the Fokker DVII on equal terms above 12,000 feet where the Sopwith Camel was unable to match the DVII. The Sopwith Snipe was also devoid of the flying twitches and idiosyncrasies of the Sopwith Camel. The Sopwith Snipe was a much easier aircraft to fly. The Sopwith Snipe did not have the same problem in training squadrons as the Camel did nor did it have the same reputation as a cadet killer as the Camel.

The decision to put the Sopwith Snipe into production despite its troubled development cycle also speaks to the British Air Ministries distrust of energy fighters. The Sopwith Snipe became the main fighter for the RAF after the war with the cancelling of the Martinsyde Buzzard which was to be the next generation of energy fighter for the RAF. The Sopwith Snipe represented the final evolution of the lightweight rotary engined fighter and in essence was the last of its kind as World War I aviation technology.

[1] The term scout and fighter can be used interchangeably in reference to World War I aircraft.

[2] The Fokker Dr.I Triplane was well known for the aircraft pointing it's nose wherever it wanted. The three wings had no dihedral to give the aircraft lateral stability.

[3] The L'Aeronatuique Militaire is the French Army Aviation forces.

[4] The Luftstrietkrafte was the Germany Army Aviation forces from October 1916 onwards. Previous to October 1916 the German aviation forces were known as the Fliegertruppe or flying troops.

[5] Bloody April was the month in which the aviation forces on the British front took horrendous losses. This was mainly due to the arrival of the Albatros DIII at the front and its matching with Manfred von Richthofen, better known as "The Red Baron" or "le Petit Rouge". Richthofen turned the ineffective Jasta 11 into a feared fighting force. Previous to Richthofens arrival Jasta 11 had not scored one "anschluss" or shoot down. In April 1917 the Jasta 11 shot down 96 aircraft predominantly preying on the obsolete BE and FE aircraft. This is a remarkable number of claims for any squadron of any aviation force in World War I.

[6] Jagdgeschwader was a German air wing consisting of four Jasta scout squadrons. The JG's were formed with the specific task of securing air superiority in critically important combat sectors. German Jasta's typically consisted of twelve aircraft of mixed type with the aces getting the best equipment. The Australian, British, French and United States Squadrons or Aero's were all equipped with the same type. A British squadron typically consisted of eighteen aircraft though in some cases such as with one Australian squadron the complement of aircraft was as high as twenty-four.

[7] The Fokker DVII is often described as being able to stand on its tail without stalling. This is due to the DVII's think airfoil design being able to maintain airflow across it without seperation. There is a Fokker DVII still flying at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York State which performs stunts including this style of manoeuvre.

[8] Despite German engineering brilliance the engines produced by the aviation industry were unable to achieve the same horsepower levels as the British, French and Italian industries because of the Royal Naval blockade of important petroleum products such as high octane fuels and specialized lubricants. In 1918 the aviation industry had been given importance for raw materials over all but the submarine industries.

[9] The Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service amalgamated into the Royal Air Force in 1918 to consolidate administration and command. One other reason was so that the RFC and RNAS weren't competing for the same aircraft in procurement.

[10] 80 Wing RAF consisted of the scout squadrons 92 Sqn RAF with SE5as, 2 Sqn AFC with SE5as, 4 Sqn AFC with Sopwith Snipes, 43 Sqn RAF with Sopwith Camels and 54 Sqn with Sopwith Camels. The Wing also consisted of 88 Sqn RAF equipped with Bristol Fighters for observation duties and 103 Sqn RAF with DH9 aircraft for bombing duties.

[11] The Italian army aviation force, the Aviazone del Regio Escerito flew against the Austro-Hungarian forces, the Kaiserliche und Konigliche Luftfahrtruppen over the Alps. The KUK forces flew Austrian variants of the Albatros and the Italian pilots which flew Spads and Ansaldos enjoyed a speed advantage over the Austro-Hungarians.

[12] Australian Imperial Force members who had been taken POW were required to fill out a repatriation statement which described the events leading to their capture and their experiences while in captivity.


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Was the Snipe an Improvement Over the Camel?
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Was the Sopwith Snipe an Improvement Over the Sopwith Camel? | 63 comments (47 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
Energy fighters vs. dog fighters (4.37 / 8) (#13)
by Caton on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:04:53 AM EST

Very interesting article, and its conclusion extends far beyond WWI.

The dislike of the British for energy fighters went on and on. The two fighter planes of the Battle of England, the Spitfire and the Hurricane, are both dog fighters. The first energy fighter deployed in the RAF, the Typhoon, was a failure as a fighter (but very successful in a ground-attack role). The first successful energy fighter of the RAF was the Tempest.

In a way, the dislike for energy fighters is still there. Compare the Harrier, Jaguar, Tornado and F3 with their US, Russian or French equivalents...

On the other side of the pond, the US Air Force always believed in long-range energy fighters. From the Warhawk of the Flying Tigers and the Wildcat on Big E, to the Mustang and the Corsair, all successful US fighters were energy fighters.

I bet your "prominent World War I Aviation historian" is American.

As long as there's hope...
Italian Industry and Bristol M1C (5.00 / 3) (#15)
by cam on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 08:06:22 AM EST

The dislike of the British for energy fighters went on and on.

The Italians were producing 700 hp engines by the end of World War I yet in WWII they initially used as their main fighter the Fiat CR42 which was a biplane dogfighter. There was obviously official dislike of energy fighters as Italian industry was producing the technology to keep ahead in the power stakes as early as 1918.

The Bristol M1C was a 140 monoplane fighter in 1916 which would have helped thwart some of the block obsolescence the RFC was facing on the western front from Richthofens circus. The M1C was met with Air Board distrust and relegated in small numbers to the Palestinian and Mesopotamian theatres.

I bet your "prominent World War I Aviation historian" is American.

Yes you are correct.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Energy fighters (none / 0) (#60)
by Gndlf on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 07:15:59 AM EST

The first successful energy fighter of the RAF was the Tempest.

Some people might argue and say that the Mosquito deserves that title, even if it was designed as a long-range Recon/Bomber aircraft and only later equipped with guns and used as fighter-bomber. It was, after all, able to outrun all the german fighters when it was introduced.

[ Parent ]

Perhaps I've been playing games too long.... (4.00 / 3) (#14)
by a life in hell on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 07:42:37 AM EST

Am I the only one who read the title, and thought sopwith snipe was a sequel to the old CGA sopwith camel game, and clicked excitedly for a discussion of it? ^_^

Nope (n/t) (none / 0) (#25)
by Eater on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 03:51:17 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Almost... (none / 0) (#26)
by Pac on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 05:12:45 PM EST

The first time I read the title, still in the queue, a thought crossed my mind: "This Counter-Strike thing is getting more complicated each day - now people are writing essays discussing pros and cons of sniper modes".

Evolution doesn't take prisoners

[ Parent ]
Almost... (none / 0) (#38)
by lean on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 06:40:30 AM EST

I quickly scanned the headline and got it to: "Snipe Soviet Government"
'I think you caught me in a contradiction there.'
[ Parent ]
Re: Perhaps I've been playing games too long.... (none / 0) (#57)
by Gndlf on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 06:13:02 AM EST

Well, I got this urge to go in the attic and dust off the Amiga and my copy of Wings...

[ Parent ]
Nope (none / 0) (#61)
by hans on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 06:27:35 PM EST

I didn't remember it until I had started reading the article.  The one I played was on DOS, not Amiga.  I wonder if this is it.

[ Parent ]
fp? (3.75 / 4) (#20)
by phuzz on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 10:07:07 AM EST

How did this get to the front page?  The author obviously spent far more than the standard 10mins on this article ;)

A great, well reserched, informative article that deals with something which is out of the experiance of the average K5'er.  More please.

(PS, just out of interest, how long did it take you to write?)

How long (5.00 / 1) (#28)
by cam on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 05:34:17 PM EST

(PS, just out of interest, how long did it take you to write?)

Three long writing sessions. I wrote half then wrote the rest about a week later. The third long session was cleaning up grammer. I revisited the article several times as well to read through it and make sure it made sense. Since this is a topic which appears occasionly on WWI aviation forums I had the quotes and figures at hand.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Now tell us about the forth session (none / 0) (#56)
by BlowCat on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 11:13:47 PM EST

The third long session was cleaning up grammer.
I'm sure there was the fourth long session to clean up the syntax, it's remarkably flawless as other posters have noticed.

[ Parent ]
Who was the inspiration for Snoopy the Flying Ace? (4.00 / 1) (#21)
by Netsnipe on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 11:44:32 AM EST

As far as I know, Charles Schultz only served in the Second World War while the Sopwith Camel was a British plane. Schultz and the whole Peanuts gang were American. So does anyone know who Schultz based Snoopy's Flying Ace persona on?

Ah the fond memories growing up reading Peanuts...

Andrew 'Netsnipe' Lau
Debian GNU/Linux Maintainer & Computer Science, UNSW

Roy Brown or Charles Le Boutillier (none / 0) (#63)
by cam on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 07:38:11 PM EST

So does anyone know who Schultz based Snoopy's Flying Ace persona on?

The Canadian Sopwith Camel pilot, Roy Brown was accredited by the RAF with shooting down the "Red Baron". There is debate over who shot Richthofen down with Australian ground gunners also claiming the Red Baron. Modern research would indicate it was a ground bullet which killed Richtofen.

Two of the main players in the controversy from the RAF/RNAS side was the Canadian Roy Brown and the New Jersian Charles Le Boutillier. Le Boutillier joined the RAF through Canada. Many American pilots joined the British, French and Australian forces as they believed their country was wrong not to declare war on Germany.

Le Boutillier was a skywriter after the war and a stunt pilot in Hollywood films. His flying appears in "Hells Angels" which is now a classic.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

its not the machine, its the man--chuck yeager (4.00 / 1) (#22)
by turmeric on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 12:23:30 PM EST

good point (none / 0) (#24)
by tebrow on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 03:31:28 PM EST

I wonder why he decided not to break the sound barrier in his old P-51. I guess McDonnel Douglas needed the press.

[ Parent ]
he shot down a few me262s in one (none / 0) (#29)
by turmeric on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 06:14:24 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Yeager on the ME262 (none / 0) (#39)
by unstable on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 08:38:34 AM EST

The first time I ever saw a jet, I shot it down.

-- General Chuck Yeager,
USAF, describing his first confrontation with a Me262.

from http://www.skygod.com/quotes/

great colection of quotes from all sorts of aviation.

check out the ORD ATC quotes (o'hare air trafic control)

Reverend Unstable
all praise the almighty Bob
and be filled with slack

[ Parent ]

grisly (none / 0) (#40)
by turmeric on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:09:46 AM EST

but the thing is. even the ultimate techno wizard, the master of it all, chuck yeager, says that focusing on the machine is not as important as the people driving it.

[ Parent ]
You could. (5.00 / 1) (#30)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 08:06:48 PM EST

Just not in level flight.

Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.

[ Parent ]

Yep (5.00 / 1) (#32)
by strlen on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 10:40:03 PM EST

P-51s would achieve sonic booms in a dive, albeit not cases of structual damage, a problem with which the Germans dealt in the me-256: by using swept wings.

The p-51 was actually faster, than the first American jet-fighters, too.

[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
[ Parent ]

What about the Dolphin? (4.66 / 6) (#23)
by ghjm on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 03:00:57 PM EST

How can you write this entire article without ever mentioning the Sopwith Dolphin? It was faster, climbed better, turned better, and carried more guns than the Snipe, and IIRC it made it to the front lines first. The Dolphin could take on a Fokker D.VII at altitude, in fact if what I've read is accurate it could get above them (by which I mean a higher service ceiling, not a higher climb rate at altitude - the D.VII still outclimbed anything flying). And according to Google, three times more Dolphins were manufactured than Snipes. So isn't your article a bit incomplete without at least mentioning any of this?

Dolphin (4.85 / 7) (#27)
by cam on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 05:31:00 PM EST

How can you write this entire article without ever mentioning the Sopwith Dolphin?

The Dolphin had been around for a while and was used to replace the Spads in 19 and 23 Sqn. Two other squadrons used it as well, 79 Sqn and 87 Sqn. So it wasnt in wide service. The Sopwith Camel equipped 37 RFC, AFC and USAS squadrons. The SE5a equipped 24 RFC, AFC and USAS. The pressing need was to replace the Camel, the Dolphin had been around for a while and wasnt the obvious successor.

One of the reasons was that the pilots head popped out over the top wing which didnt appear to inspire confidence in pilots that their neck wasnt going to be snapped. It was back-staggered and the back-staggered DH5 had been a failure operationally. Another reason is probably the distrust of energy fighters. The Dolphin also had the same 200 hp engine that the SE5a and Spad did. It wasnt the next generation, it was a late entrant to the current SE5a and Spad generation.

The Snipe was promised as the next generation to the Camel/SE5a/Spad/Dolphin/N28. It was but barely. The Snipe was fortunate that it's counterparts on the German side of the line didnt have the horsepower British and French industry were producing. The next generation of fighter was best epitomized by the Buzzard, a 400 hp energy fighter. But it didnt go into production.

It was faster, climbed better, turned better, and carried more guns than the Snipe, and IIRC it made it to the front lines first.

It certainly was faster but it didnt turn better. The squadrons found that the Dolphin like the Pup was extremely light to the touch at high altitude where other aircraft handled sloppily. Most of the Dolphin squadrons ended up spending time chasing and intercepting high altitude Rumpler observation aircraft in the 17,000 - 19,000 ft range.

The common photographs of the Dolphin show it with 4 guns. Two Vickers on the snout and two Lewis guns on either wing or protruding at 45 degrees from the cockpit. IIRC only one squadron put them on the wings and each Lewis could not be reloaded so it was only good for 97 rounds.

Vibration is an issue with wooden wings as well, wood despite being rigged flexes more than stressed aluminium. The wing mounted guns would have a wide and inaccurate spatter or cone. Spatter was a problem due to engine vibration anyway, it is not uncommon to read a Combat In The Air Report (CITAR) where the pilot will say something like "closed to 15 yards and fire 200 rounds, then had to break to avoid collision".

Richthofens combat reports often have him start firing at 100 yards range to 20 yards range. Richthofen also didnt worry about ammunition expenditure he regularly fired 500 rounds into an aircraft for it go down. Richthofen has one of the highest ratio of verified downed aircraft. One reason was he made sure they were going down by putting alot of bullets into them.

Another reason that more aircraft didnt carry more than two guns was the loss of performance with the addition of more guns. The Sopwith Triplane was tried with two guns but the loss of perfomance didnt make the extra firepower worth it.

Where you see aircraft with additional guns is more often in night fighting over England as they rarely saw contacts and when they did they wanted to get a bunch of firepower on the target before they were blinded by the flash of the guns. The aircraft that were chasing Zeppelins also had the 45 degree guns so the could fly underneath the Zeppelin and fire without having to aim the aircraft at the Zeppelin. The size of the Zeppelin meant a large target area and less need for the pilot to aim.

So isn't your article a bit incomplete without at least mentioning any of this?

I dont believe so. The Type I.a which became the Snipe was the aircraft that was supposed to replace the Camel. The Dolphin was a contempary of the SE5a and Spad rather than the next generation of fighters which the Snipe and Buzzard represented. Even though the Snipe replaced the fighters in the RAF, the SE5a remained the frontline fighter of the post-war Australian, Canadian, South African and American air forces.

I am not sure why the Dolphin wasnt more widely accepted. Possibly because the SE5a and Spad were already deployed in numbers. A while ago I collated the average victories per month for each Squadron in the British and Australian forces. The Dolphin Squadrons averaged, 11.69, 10.45, 9.55 and 16.5. That is for 19 sqn, 23 Sqn, 79 Sqn and 87 Sqn respectively.

In comparison the leading SE5a squadrons were 74 Sqn with an average of 25, 84 Sqn with 21.53, 85 Sqn with 16.5 and 56 Sqn with 14.72. The leading Camel squadron was 4 sqn AFC with an average of 20, 10 RNAS with 19.16, 45 Sqn with 18.58, 70 Sqn with 17.93 and 65 Sqn with 16.66.

The average for all British squadrons was around 12. For whatever reason the Dolphin squadrons performed about average except for 87 Squadron. The aces in 87 Squadron however contributed 80% of the squadrons victories. This too is about normal for an allied squadron. The anomoly was 4 Sqn AFC whose aces only contributed 67% of the total victories. The SE5a 74 Sqn with an average of 25 had 93% of it's victories contributed by aces.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

WWII Fighters (none / 0) (#33)
by tjb on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 11:35:13 PM EST


I'm interested in your opinion on WW2 fighters, given your obvious interest in the WW1 air war.

WW2 was a major departure (on the allied side anyway) from the individual dogfighting tactics of the Great War,  Bombers deployed in formation to achieve the large kill-boxes, where concentrated machine-gun fire would annihilate enemy fighters and interceptors abandoned accurate nose-firing guns in exchange for higher speed and concentrated, innacurate fire coming from multiple wing mounted cannons.

Of course, this took a turn again with the F-4 disaster in Vietnam, and nose mounted guns returned, but in the jet age, it didn't mean a performance reduction by employing an interrupter system.


[ Parent ]

Interrupter system (none / 0) (#48)
by Anonymous Hiro on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:47:03 PM EST

Why didn't they just put the prop and engine at the back?

[ Parent ]
Gun Bus... (5.00 / 1) (#49)
by Iarnulfr on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 05:50:46 PM EST

Earlier British scouts did: the FE and BE types, I think the 'Gun Bus', were typical pusher types with a rear facing engine and a front mounted machine gun. The difficulty was that the wood and wire construction of the time led to complicated and not very aerodynamic characteristics with the tailplane mounted on wood and wire struts forming a cage behind the engine. These types were pretty badly hit by the advent of the Fokker E.III ('The Fokker Scourge' of ?1915-16?), which had the first really effective interrupter gear on a standard monoplane construction. Iarnulfr.
Who'll stop the cavalry?
[ Parent ]
Dirty Air (none / 0) (#51)
by cam on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:06:50 PM EST

not very aerodynamic characteristics

Another problem with the tractor design was it dirtied the air that got to the propeller. Adding horsepower to those aircraft gave little gain in speed because of the muddied and disturbed air the propeller received from the nacelle.

Those aircraft like the FE2b and Gun Bus had the observer at the very front of the aircraft. In a combat the observer would be standing and firing the front Lewis gun. If the pilot pulled a negative G maneuver the observer would have only the gun to keep himself attached to the aircraft.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Dogfights and firepower (none / 0) (#53)
by cam on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:23:14 PM EST

I'm interested in your opinion on WW2 fighters, given your obvious interest in the WW1 air war.

I am not very knowledgable on areas outside of 1914-1919.

WW2 was a major departure (on the allied side anyway) from the individual dogfighting tactics of the Great War,

After early 1915 air combats were by formations rather than individuals meeting. By 1918 formations were as large as 100 aircraft. The top aircraft would drive the enemy aircraft into lower formations so they had greater numbers. Most victories were still of the kind that down aircraft never saw the attacker. A pilot travelling on their own over the lines would be attacked quickly, many pilots and many aces were killed that way.

Individual dogfights appear in the romanticism of WWI aviation but it was the exception rather than the rule.

interceptors abandoned accurate nose-firing guns in exchange for higher speed and concentrated, innacurate fire coming from multiple wing mounted cannons.

Wooden wings cant carry the load of armament as well as the loads enforced by the pressures of flight. WWII aircraft had guns in the wings because the alloy spars and stressed skin wings could support the extra weight.

As speeds get higher the target potentially appears in the gun sights for a shorter period so bringing greater firepower in any one instant on a point gives a greater likelihood of a decisive combat.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Bullets Gallore (none / 0) (#45)
by WebBug on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 01:03:01 PM EST

Set me right if I'm wrong.
If I Recall . . . there were a few french aces who were notoriously scrimpy on ammo and terribly accurate.

One or two germans as well, Wasn't it Voss who critizied Richthofen for using so much ammo? Don't recall right now.( I'll see if I can find that book again).

In any case, while most pilots were using large amounts of ammo, a very few discovered better techniques.

I'd also like to add that this is simply a wondeful article.
-- It may be that your sole purpose is to server as a warning to others . . . at least I have one!
[ Parent ]

Fonck (none / 0) (#52)
by cam on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 10:14:37 PM EST

If I Recall . . . there were a few french aces who were notoriously scrimpy on ammo and terribly accurate.

Fonck made several claims of marksmanship. He was also blessed with a rather large ego and wasnt particurlarly liked by his fellow pilots.

In any case, while most pilots were using large amounts of ammo, a very few discovered better techniques.

When you go through combat reports, aces tended to get in very close and fire until the other aircraft was destroyed. Richthofens often started firing at 100 yards and only stopped at 20 yards because the plane broke up or its wing fell off. That wasnt unusual in his victories. From aces that got 5 - 12 victories you often see fired 50 rounds at 200 yards range. They might go three months without a victory.

Closing the range and not being scared to fire a lot of rounds definately increased the likelihood of a decisive conclusion to the combat. Fonck was a capable shot, most of the aces were. Robert Little in his time out of the aircraft would clay shoot in rainy weather and hunt rats in the hangars with a pistol.

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

one great pilot, one reason. (4.00 / 2) (#31)
by Focx on Sun Dec 01, 2002 at 08:10:09 PM EST

snoopy piloted a sopwith camel. that's enough reason for me - I wouldn't know that name without him.
--- "Even anywhere, humans are always connected." - lain
aerodome? (3.00 / 1) (#34)
by auraslip on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:00:42 AM EST

what's this areodome you speak of. It sounds like something out of sci-fi.
I think I saw a picture once of a ballon with planes attached, but that seems a little bit crazy.
Aerodrome (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by PenguinWrangler on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:01:23 AM EST

Aerodrome is another word for Airfield or Airport.

Over here, they're Aeroplanes not Airplanes...
"Information wants to be paid"
[ Parent ]

Biggles (4.00 / 2) (#35)
by czth on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:08:35 AM EST

I don't see how you can mention the Sopwith Camel without mentioning 'Biggles' (aka Capt. James Bigglesworth of 266 squadron in France, near Martinique IIRC, lator promoted to Major, DSO, DFC, MC), a creation of Capt. W. E. Johns, first written as a serial and then a series of (about 100?) books. I believe he flew Camels for most of his wartime career, graduating to Snipes shortly before the armistice. After this, Johns had him form an "air detective agency" with some friends from the RAF, to continue his antics and continue to delight readers.

I grew up with Biggles; the books were given to me by some friends of my parents, their son having outgrown them, and I have a fairly extensive collection, although only a few (Biggles Flies to Work, Biggles of the Camel Squadron, and The Boy Biggles) are here with me, the rest are in boxes in the basement at my parents' house.

It should probably be mentioned that I grew up in the UK, and perhaps Biggles never made it over the Atlantic, or at least out of the Empire/Commonwealth.

An (unofficial) home page with some links. A


... and Algy and Ginger (none / 0) (#46)
by phliar on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:48:15 PM EST

I read the Biggles stories obsessively as a child. That's probably why I still have a soft spot for the Camel and the Auster. (A few years ago I flew an Auster; for American pilots, it's very similar to a Taylorcraft BC-12D.)

Faster, faster, until the thrill of...
[ Parent ]

Re: Biggles (none / 0) (#58)
by Gndlf on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 06:17:42 AM EST

It should probably be mentioned that I grew up in the UK, and perhaps Biggles never made it over the Atlantic, or at least out of the Empire/Commonwealth.

They were translated to Norwegian, at least. Unfortunately, I never read them.

[ Parent ]

Wow ! Great article! Wikipedia-ize it, please :) (4.20 / 5) (#36)
by arcade on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:06:20 AM EST

Wow! Great article. Really enjoyed reading through it. It would be quite simply _great_ if you pushed it into wikipedia (wikipedia.com) or something. :) The articles there on WWI aircrafts isn't really great.

Hmf, memories... I used to play Red Baron in '93 or something, read biggles pockets, and so forth :) This brought back memories

Pup? Camel? Dolphin? (3.14 / 7) (#37)
by Demiurge on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 04:31:17 AM EST

Personally, I prefer Sidewinder, Hellfire, and Predator. Weapons should sound like stuff that kills, not a line of plush stuffed toys.

And enough of this naming ships after dead presidents and states. I want to see the USS Executioner and the SSN Assassin.

For good names (none / 0) (#50)
by brsmith4 on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 09:25:32 PM EST

look to the british fleet. They have much cooler names (although their gay prefixes R.M.S., H.M.S., etc get rather annoying).

I give up on you people. You couldn't save yourselves from a bad dream. --God
[ Parent ]
Even better, Iain Banks novels (none / 0) (#54)
by Demiurge on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:08:34 AM EST

Here are a few from Excession:

GCU Different Tan (Mountain Class) GCU Fate Amenable To Change (River Class) GCU Gray Area GCU It's Character Forming GCU Jaundiced Outlook (Ridge) GCU Problem Child (Troubadour) GCU Reasonable Excuse GCU Recent Convert GCU Tactical Grace (Escarpment Class) GCU Unacceptable Behaviour GCV Steely Glint (Plains) Highpoint (ulterior) Shoot Them Later (eccentric;ulterior) LOU Attitude Adjuster (Killer) ROU Killing Time (Torturer Class) dROU Frank Exchange Of Views (Psychopath Class) GSV Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The (Plate) GSV Death and Gravity GSV Ethics Gradient (Range) GSV Honest Mistake GSV Limivourous (Ocean) GSV No Fixed Abode (Sabbaticaler, ex Equator) GSV Quietly Confident (Plate) GSV Sleeper Service (Plate) GSV Uninvited Guest GSV Use Psychology GSV What Is The Answer and Why? GSV Wisdom Like Silence (Continent) GSV Yawning Angel (Range) GSV Zero Gravitas LSV Misophist LSV Serious Callers Only (Tundra) MSV Not Invented Here (Desert)

[ Parent ]
Great article! (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by PenguinWrangler on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 11:03:41 AM EST

Really interesting stuff. Please, do some more!
"Information wants to be paid"
ObTrivia (5.00 / 2) (#43)
by jd on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:07:46 PM EST

The inventor of the Sopwith Camel had the incredible distinction of having 4 Sopwith Camels do a fly-over, for his 100th birthday. Planes of that vintage, in flyable condition, are extremely far and few between, and for him to get to hear, one last time, the sound of his creation pass overhead... That must of been incredible.

(I believe he died a year later, knowing that his contribution to aviation history still lives.)

References? (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by AgentGray on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 12:57:14 PM EST

Are there any other references for WWI dogfighting out there? Biographies? History books? I'll take anything.

WWI books (none / 0) (#62)
by cam on Fri Dec 13, 2002 at 07:32:23 PM EST

Are there any other references for WWI dogfighting out there? Biographies? History books? I'll take anything.

This is a pretty comprehensive list of WWI aviation books. One of my personal favourites is Arthur Cobby's "High Adventure" which is a rollicking larrikin written book from one of Australia's leading aces. There are also come online books as well such as Manfred Von Richthofen's "The Red Air Fighter", Eddie Rickenbackers "Fighting the Flying Circus" and Norman Hall's "High Adventure".

Freedom, Liberty, Equity and an Australian Republic
[ Parent ]

Editorial: Comma splices (5.00 / 1) (#47)
by p3d0 on Mon Dec 02, 2002 at 03:55:01 PM EST

This thing is chock full o' comma splices, to the point that I find it irritating to read. If you ever polish it and post it somewhere else, please refer to this first.
Patrick Doyle
My comments do not reflect the opinions of my employer.
camels and snoopy (5.00 / 1) (#55)
by burntfriedman on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:44:53 PM EST

the camel is one of the most famous of the WW I planes, that's why snoopy chose to "fly" one. the other aviation legend of that time period is the red knight, red devil or as snoopy(and the british) called him--the jolly red baron...so why the obsession with the camel? well, Canadian ace Roy Brown was flying a Camel when he was credited with shooting down Manfred von Richtofen...

A few comments (none / 0) (#59)
by Gndlf on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 06:59:11 AM EST

First things first: Excellent article. Not quite what I expected too see in the "technology" section of a geek-heavy website, but it's nice to see that I'm not the only geek that like old technology (though WWII is more my area).

To add to this the [Camel] rotary engine's torque meant that the aircraft turned rapidly to the right.

The WWII Hawker Typhoon had a tendency to do this during take-off. The pilots had to be trained to apply left rudder just as they got enough speed to get airborne. Pierre Clostermann wrote (in "Le grand cirque"/"The big show")that one airfield had to remove a couple of hangars that was placed too near the runway as the new Typhoon pilots kept crashing into them

Unless we got close to them early in their dive, they would just keep on diving and so get away...

This seems like it was a standard tactic for Luftwaffe in WWII, at least in the later stages of the war. If they had the height advantage, they would dive down, attack and then immediately pull up again.

Oh, and Hispano (maker of Spad and SE5a engines) made the 20mm Hispano V wing guns in the Hawker Tempest.

Was the Sopwith Snipe an Improvement Over the Sopwith Camel? | 63 comments (47 topical, 16 editorial, 0 hidden)
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