Planes of the Sopwith Aviation Company
by Paul Fisher

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Sopwith F.1 'Camel'

Kit: ESCI (1:72)

Continuing my theme of modeling two-seat aircraft, this Clerget-powered two-seat Camel was unofficially converted by No. 208 Squadron in June 1918. No serial is discernable in the sole extant photograph, but some historians identify this aircraft as D1928, flown by Major C. Draper DSC. The plywood decking was opened and the fuel tank was relocated under the pilot's seat to allow space for the observer. Though not known to have entered combat in this form, D1928 did see action during the summer of 1918, before ultimately being felled by a Fokker DVII on 27 August.

The model was built from the surviving parts an old ESCI kit I built as a kid, but that had accidentally been squashed. I simply took the old wings and the tail-half of the fuselage and scratch-built the remainder (the ESCI fuselage details were inaccurate anyway). The observer's seat and Lewis gun mount are somewhat speculative. Incorporated are a number of extra details, including a mostly scratch-built engine.

Primary reference: Sturtivant and Page, Royal Navy Aircraft Serials and Units 1911-1919, Air-Britain Ltd., 1992

Sopwith Folder Seaplane (Admiralty Type 807)

Kit: Joystick (1:72)

Sopwith Folder Seaplane (Admiralty Type 807)


Two batches of Sopwith Folders were ordered by the Admiralty during the winter of 1914/15. The type was among the first British naval aircraft to see ship-borne service, with three aboard the Ark Royal for scouting and artillery spotting during the Dardanelles campaign. First delivered to Calshot in January 1915, Sopwith 920 was immediately shipped to East Africa for use aboard HMS Kinsfauns Castle during the operation against the German cruiser Konigsberg. The plane was erected at Bombay and was stationed on Niororo Island near the Rufiji Delta- where it suffered several mishaps including three sinkings. It was finally abandoned by the RNAS at Mombasa in July 1915, only to be resurrected by the RFC and transported to Basra as part of Force D in Mesopotamia. At some point 920 was converted for use as a landplane- being fitted with wooden wheels. It finally came to grief on New Years Day, 1917.

The Build

This is the second vacuform kit I have completed. Though they are labor-intensive I have come to respect the easily workable, resilient plastic and the thin, translucent wings. I chose to add a little drama by depicting the model with one wing partially folded. The engine, undercarriage and floats were scratch- built. The surface finish was created using layers of pastels over a base of Agama clear-doped-linen. For the rigging, I'm still using that old wig I found back when I built the BE.2c. Though a healthy number of photographs of the type survives there was still a bit of guesswork involved in creating the finished product.

Primary References

Bruce Robertson, "Sopwith- The Man and his Aircraft", Air Review Ltd., 1970 Dick Cronin, Royal Navy Shipboard Aircraft Developments 1912-1932, Air Britain Ltd., 1990

Sopwith F.1 'Camel' (Trainer)

Kit: Rosepart + Academy (1:72)

In an attempt to address the high rate of non-combat-related accidents and fatalities among Camel pilots, the Royal Air Force ordered the conversion of a small number of Sopwith F.1s as two-seat trainers in early 1918. These variants featured a revised fuselage arrangement fitted for dual control but with greatly reduced fuel capacity- endurance was limited to approximately thirty minutes.

Sopwith B2054 was on strength with No. 32 Training Depot Squadron at Montrose, Scotland, beginning in the spring of 1918. Of interest are its squadron and serial markings, and lack of rudder insignia.

I began constructing this model at the same time as my other two-seat Camel. The wings, cowling, and ailerons are from an Academy injection-molded kit merged with a cast-resin fuselage from Rosemont Hobby. The cockpit was created by hollowing the resin body and carefully installing the interior details. The tailfin and rudder were fabricated, as the originals were were not true to scale. The wheels, airscrew, and control sticks are from Aeroclub. The engine and remaining details are largely scratch-built.

Mick Davis, Sopwith Aircraft, The Crowood Press, 1999
Malcolm Hall, Sopwith Aviation Company, Tempus Publishing, Ltd., 1999

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