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Sopwith Pup 7 years 9 months ago #275122

  • Cundall
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I'm currently working on a book on the Sopwith Pup at the moment, so thought I would put some info here, even though it's not an aircraft available on DF at the moment.

The Sopwith Pup (technically the 'Sopwith Scout' or 'Admiralty Type 9901') was first ordered for the Royal Naval Air Service, as in 1916, Sopwith almost exclusively built aircraft for the Navy. It was a small, light aircraft with a 80hp Le Rhone rotary engine (compared with roughly double the power in contemporary Albatros engines) and fitted with a single, synchronised Vickers machine gun. It was about the first single-seater scout available to British forces in any numbers with a synchronised gun, which made it very useful indeed for the offensives planned on the Western Front, so the RFC established its own Pup squadrons as quickly as it could form them. The Pup was as fast as anything the British had in late 1916, around 110mph at 6,000ft, but its biggest plus was its manouevrability. It could turn tighter than any aircraft then in service, and could maintain its height better in a turn - the more heavily loaded German single-seaters tended to lose more height, especially at higher altitudes. The Pup's climb rate and manoeuvrability kept it competitive even when much faster and more heavily armed aircraft started to become the norm.

James McCudden, the famous SE5a ace, actually scored a couple of his kills on Pups when he spent some time attached to 66 Squadron. He also used a Pup as his personal aircraft when he was an instructor, and got to know if very well. This is an account of air combat using the Pup:

"On July 26th I went up with Major Henderson to fight in the Salient. We crossed the lines at 14,000 ft over Bixschoote, and very soon saw a lot of Huns. We continued to climb, as it was our intention to fight at 16,000 or 17,000 ft in order to use the Pup’s manoeuvrability and light loading to the best advantage. Of course down at 10,000 and 12,000 ft the V-strutter absolutely waltzed round us for speed and climb, but at 16,000 ft the average Albatros Scout began the average Albatros Scout began to find its ceiling just where the Pup was still speedy and controllable.

"Whilst over Baccallaere at 17,000 ft I saw a V-strutter bearing down on us, nose on. He came straight for me and commenced his turn to get directly behind me. I had plenty of time to increase my speed and did two very quick half-turns, such as a Pup can do.

"The old Hun came lumbering round, and although he started above, he was now below, after having done one half-turn to my full turn. I now dived on the Hun, who was painted a dirty dull green, and opened fire from 100 ft above. I got my sights on him beautifully when the damned gun stopped, and I had to pull out, but I saw that I had hit the Hun badly, and Major Henderson now had a shot at him. The Hun went down in a spiral and then dived down east in a steep dive and I very soon lost sight of him. We flew west again, whilst the Hun went home thinking what a silly thing it was to do to try to out-manoeuvre at 17,000 ft a machine that was only loaded half his weight per square foot of surface."

(The guns jamming was something of a recurring problem with Pups on the Western Front, as their synchronisation gear was the less-reliable Scarff-Dubrowski type rather than the Constantinesco-Colley gear that came along a little later, and was very effective).

Here are some pics of a replica Pup built from factory drawings:

The following user(s) said Thank You: [TFL] Robert33, Gannet, nebular

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Last edit: by Cundall.
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