Flying Boats

Flying Boats of World War 1

Curtiss and Porte’s plans were interrupted by the outbreak of World War I. Porte sailed for England on 4 August 1914 and rejoined the Navy, as a member of the Royal Naval Air Service.

Appointed Squadron Commander of Royal Navy Air Station Hendon, he soon convinced the Admiralty of the potential of flying boats and was put in charge of the naval air station at Felixstowe in 1915.

Porte persuaded the Admiralty to commandeer (and later, purchase) the America and a sister craft from Curtiss.

This was followed by an order for 12 more similar aircraft, one Model H-2 and the remaining as Model H-4’s.

Four examples of the latter were assembled in the UK by Saunders.

All of these were similar to the design of the America and, indeed, were all referred to as Americas in Royal Navy service.

The engines, however, were changed from the under-powered 160 hp Curtiss engines to 250 hp Rolls-Royce Falcon engines.

The initial batch was followed by an order for 50 more (totaling 64 Americas overall during the war).

Porte also acquired permission to modify and experiment with the Curtiss aircraft. The Curtiss H-4s were soon found to have a number of problems; they were underpowered, their hulls were too weak for sustained operations and they had poor handling characteristics when afloat or taking off

One flying boat pilot, Major Theodore Douglas Hallam, wrote that they were “comic machines, weighing well under two tons; with two comic engines giving, when they functioned, 180 horsepower; and comic control, being nose heavy with engines on and tail heavy in a glide.”

The Felixstowe F.2A, the first production seaplane, and the basis for future development. At Felixstowe, Porte made advances in flying boat design and developed a practical hull design with the distinctive “Felixstowe notch”.

Porte’s first design to be implemented in Felixstowe was the Felixstowe Porte Baby, a large, three-engined biplane flying-boat, powered by one central pusher and two outboard tractor Rolls-Royce Eagle engines.

Porte modified an H-4 with a new hull whose improved hydrodynamic qualities made taxiing, take-off and landing much more practical, and called it the Felixstowe F.1.

Porte’s innovation of the “Felixstowe notch” enabled the craft to overcome suction from the water more quickly and break free for flight much more easily.

This made operating the craft far safer and more reliable.

The “notch” breakthrough would soon after evolve into a “step”, with the rear section of the lower hull sharply recessed above the forward lower hull section, and that characteristic became a feature of both flying boat hulls and seaplane floats. 

The resulting aircraft would be large enough to carry sufficient fuel to fly long distances and could berth alongside ships to take on more fuel.

Porte then designed a similar hull for the larger Curtiss H-12 flying boat which, while larger and more capable than the H-4s, shared failings of a weak hull and poor water handling.

The combination of the new Porte-designed hull, this time fitted with two steps, with the wings of the H-12 and a new tail, and powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, was named the Felixstowe F.2 and first flew in July 1916

proving greatly superior to the Curtiss on which it was based. It was used as the basis for all future designs

It entered production as the Felixstowe F.2A, being used as a patrol aircraft, with about 100 being completed by the end of World War I. Another seventy were built, and these were followed by two F.2c, which were built at Felixstowe.

In February 1917, the first prototype of the Felixstowe F.3 was flown. It was larger and heavier than the F.2, giving it greater range and heavier bomb load, but poorer agility.

Approximately 100 Felixstowe F.3s were produced before the end of the war.

The Felixstowe F.5, designed by Lieutenant Commander John Cyril Porte at the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe The Felixstowe F.5 was intended to combine the good qualities of the F.2 and F.3, with the prototype first flying in May 1918.

The prototype showed superior qualities to its predecessors but, to ease production, the production version was modified to make extensive use of components from the F.3, which resulted in lower performance than the F.2A or F.3. Porte’s final design at the Seaplane Experimental Station was the 123 ft-span five-engined Felixstowe Fury triplane (also known as the “Porte Super-Baby” or “PSB”).

F.2, F.3, and F.5 flying boats were extensively employed by the Royal Navy for coastal patrols, and to search for German U-boats.

In 1918 they were towed on lighters towards the northern German ports to extend their range; on 4 June 1918, this resulted in three F.2As engaging in a dogfight with ten German seaplanes, shooting down two confirmed and four probable at no loss.

As a result of this action, British flying boats were dazzle-painted to aid identification in combat. Felixstowe F5L under construction at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, circa 1920.

The Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company independently developed its designs into the small Model “F”, the larger Model “K” (several of which were sold to the Russian Naval Air Service), and the Model “C” for the U.S. Navy.

Curtiss among others also built the Felixstowe F.5 as the Curtiss F5L, based on the final Porte hull designs and powered by American Liberty engines.

Meanwhile, the pioneering flying boat designs of François Denhaut had been steadily developed by the Franco-British Aviation Company into a range of practical craft.

Smaller than the Felixstowes, several thousand FBAs served with almost all of the Allied forces as reconnaissance craft, patrolling the North Sea, Atlantic, and Mediterranean oceans.

In Italy, several seaplanes were developed, starting with the L series, and progressing with the M series.

The Macchi M.5 in particular was extremely maneuverable and agile and matched the land-based aircraft it had to fight.

244 were built in total.

Towards the end of World War I, the aircraft were flown by the Italian Navy Aviation, the United States Navy, and the United States Marine Corps airmen.

Ensign Charles Hammann won the first Medal of Honor awarded to a United States naval aviator in an M.5 The Aeromarine Plane and Motor Company built some of the biggest seaplanes of the time in Keyport, New Jersey.

Mr.Uppercu built the factory on a 66-acre site in 1917 and Built the Aeromarine 75 and Aeromarine AMC flying Boats which with Aeromarine West Indies Airways flew Air Mail to Florida, Bahamas, and Cuba along with being passenger carriers.

The German aircraft manufacturing company Hansa-Brandenburg built flying boats starting with the model Hansa-Brandenburg GW in 1916.

The Austro-Hungarian firm, Lohner-Werke began building flying boats, starting with the Lohner E in 1914 and the later (1915) influential Lohner L version.

The Airco DH.9

The Airco DH.9 of World War 1

(from de Havilland 9) – also known after 1920 as the de Havilland DH.9 – was a British single-engined biplane bomber developed and deployed during the First World War.

The DH.9 was a development of Airco’s earlier successful DH.4, with which it shared many components.

These were mated to an all-new fuselage and the BHP/Galloway Adriatic engine, which promised increased performance.

Anticipating its usefulness, the type was ordered in very large numbers for Britain’s Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

Upon entering service, the DH.9’s performance was found to be unsatisfactory.

The Adriatic engine was unreliable and failed to provide the expected power, which gave the DH.9 poorer performance than the aircraft it had been meant to replace.

The performance deficit was blamed for the heavy losses they suffered over the Western Front. The redesigned DH.9A was fitted with a more powerful and reliable American Liberty L-12 engine which rectified the shortcomings of the original DH.9 model.

British B.E.2

The British BE2 Aircraft of World War 1

The Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 was a British single-engine tractor two-seat biplane designed and developed at the Royal Aircraft Factory.

Most production aircraft were constructed under contract by various private companies, both established aircraft manufacturers and firms that had not previously built aircraft.

Around 3,500 were manufactured in all.

Early versions of the B.E.2 entered squadron service with the Royal Flying Corps in 1912; the type continued to serve throughout the First World War.

It was initially used as a front-line reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber; modified as a single-seater it proved effective as a night fighter, destroying several German airships.

By late 1915, the B.E.2 was proving inadequate in defending itself against German fighters such as the then-new Fokker Eindecker, leading to increased losses during the period known as the Fokker Scourge.

Although by now obsolete, it had to remain in front-line service while suitable replacements were designed, tested, and brought into service.

Following its belated withdrawal from operations, the type served in various second-line capacities, seeing us as a trainer and communications aircraft, as well as performing anti-submarine coastal patrol duties.

The B.E.2 has always been a subject of controversy, both at the time and in the later historical assessment. From the B.E.2c variant on it had been carefully adapted to be “inherently stable”, this feature was considered helpful in its artillery observation and aerial photography duties: most of which were assigned to the pilot, who was able to fly without constant attention to his flight controls.

In spite of a tendency to swing on take-off and a reputation for spinning, the type had a relatively low accident rate.

The stability of the type was however achieved at the expense of heavy controls, making rapid maneuvering difficult.

The observer, often not carried because of the B.E.’s poor payload, occupied the front seat, where he had a limited field of fire for his gun.

The Bristol F.2B

The Bristol F.2.B of World War 1

On 25 October 1916, the second prototype was completed, powered by a Hispano-Suiza engine, and otherwise differing from the first prototype in its tail-skid, which was integrated into the base of the rudder.

It was found that the prototype’s radiator arrangement obscured the pilot’s field of view, and the nose was redesigned around a new circular-shaped frontal radiator housed within the cowling.

Other changes made to the first prototype during flight testing included the elimination of the end-plates from the lower wing roots and the addition of a shallow coaming around the cockpits.

Between 16 and 18 October 1916, the type underwent its official trials at the Central Flying School, Upavon, during which it was tried with both a four-bladed 9 ft 2 in the propeller and a two-bladed 9 ft 8 in the propeller.

By the time of its arrival at the experimental armament station at Orfordness, it had also been fitted with a Scarff ring mounting over the rear cockpit and an Aldis optical sight.

Only 52 F.2A aircraft were manufactured before production was switched to the definitive model, the F.2B (retrospectively designated Bristol Type 14 which first flew on 25 October 1916.

The first 150 or so F.2Bs were powered by either the Falcon I or Falcon II engine, but the remainder were equipped with the 275 hp (205 kW) Falcon III engine.

The additional power gave the F.2B a 10 mph (16 km/h) advantage in level speed over the F.2A, while it was three minutes faster in a climb to 10,000 ft (3,000 m).

Armament The Bristol F.2 Fighter was armed in what had by then become the standard weapons configuration for a British two-seater military aircraft: one synchronised fixed, forward-firing .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun (in this case mounted under the cowling to avoid freezing) and a single flexible .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis Gun on a Scarff ring over the observer’s rear cockpit.

The F.2B variant often carried a second Lewis gun on the rear cockpit mounting, although observers found the weight of the twin Lewis gun mounting difficult to handle in the high altitudes at which combat increasingly took place in the last year of the war, many preferring to retain a single gun.

Bristol Fighter with Foster-mounted Lewis gun Attempts was made to add a forward-firing Lewis gun on a Foster mounting or similar on the upper wing either instead of, or in addition to, the Vickers gun.

Among other problems, this caused interference with the pilot’s compass, which was mounted on the trailing edge of the upper wing: to minimise this effect the Lewis gun was offset to starboard.

The Handley Page Type O

The Handley Page Type Of World War 1

The Handley Page Type O was a biplane bomber used by Britain during the First World War.

When built, the Type O was the largest aircraft that had been built in the UK and one of the largest in the world.

There were two main variants, the Handley Page O/100 (H.P.11) and the Handley Page O/400 (H.P.12).

The aircraft was used in France for tactical night attacks on targets in German-occupied France and Belgium and for strategic bombing of industrial and transport targets in the Rhineland.

Some aircraft were temporarily diverted to anti-submarine reconnaissance and bombing in the Tees estuary in 1917 and two aircraft operated in the eastern Mediterranean.

The impression made by Type O was such that for many years after the war any large aircraft came to be called a “Handley Page” in Britain and entered the dictionary as such.

The design of the series of aircraft began shortly after the outbreak of the First World War after meetings between Captain Murray Sueter, the director of the Air Department of the Royal Navy, and Frederick Handley Page. Sueter requested “a bloody paralyser of an aircraft” for the long-range bombing.

The phrase was originated by Commander Charles Rumney Samson, who had recently returned from the front.

Coastal patrol adaptations of the abortive Handley Page L/200, M/200 and MS/200 designs were initially discussed but Sueter’s technical advisor, Harris Booth, favoured a large seaplane for coastal patrol and dockyard defence that would also be capable of bombing the German High Seas Fleet at its base in Kiel.

A prototype (AD Seaplane Type 1000) had already been commissioned from J.

Samuel White & Co. of Cowes.

Handley Page suggested building a land-based aircraft of similar size, and a specification was drawn up around his suggestions and formally issued on 28 December 1914 for four prototypes.

It called for a large biplane to be powered by two 150 hp (110 kW) Sunbeam engines, which was required to fit in a 75 ft × 75 ft (23 m × 23 m) shed and would therefore have folding wings.

It was to carry six 100 lb (45 kg) bombs and have armour plating to protect crew and engines from rifle-fire from the ground.

The crew of two were to be enclosed in a glazed cockpit and the only defensive armament planned was a rifle to be fired by the observer/engineer.

The name O/100 came from the proposed wingspan of the aircraft prefixed by an ‘O’, since Handley Page gave their types alphabetical type letters.

The outline design was approved on 4 February 1915, with 250 hp (190 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle engines and on 9 February the contract was amended to include a further eight aircraft.

The O/100 was an unequal-span three-bay biplane, with the overhanging part of the upper wing braced by kingposts, a rectangular section fuselage, and a biplane tail with twin balanced rudders, between the horizontal surfaces.

Balanced ailerons were fitted to the upper wing only and extended beyond the wing trailing edge.

The engines drove four-bladed propellers, rotating in opposite directions to cancel the torque, and were enclosed in armoured nacelles, mounted between the wings on tubular steel struts.

The nacelles had a long tapered fairing to reduce drag; to clear the wing rigging wires when the wings were folded, the rear portions of the fairings were hinged to fold inward.

Construction of the fuselage and flying surfaces was primarily of spruce, with much reduction in weight by extensive use of hollow section members.

Development The four prototypes and the first production batch of six aircraft were built at Cricklewood, with the first aircraft delivered by road to Hendon on 9 December 1915.

The first flight of the prototype, serial number 1455, was made at Hendon on 17 December, when a short straight flight was made, the aircraft taking off without trouble at 50 mph (80 km/h).

A second flight was made the following day when it was found that the aircraft would not fly faster than about 55 mph (89 km/h).

This was blamed on the drag caused by large honeycomb radiators, which were changed to tube radiators mounted on either side of the engine nacelles. The third flight on 31 December revealed a number of control problems, the ailerons and elevators were effective but heavy, partly due to excessive friction in the control circuit and the rudders were seriously overbalanced.

After minor modifications, the aircraft was flown to RNAS Eastchurch, where full-speed trials were made.

On reaching 70 mph (110 km/h), the tail unit began to vibrate and twist violently; the pilot immediately landed and an inspection showed severe damage to the rear fuselage structure.

Reinforcement failed to cure the problem, the enclosed cockpit and most of the armour plating were also removed.

The second prototype, 1456, was completed in April 1916 and had an open cockpit in a longer nose with room for a gunner’s position.

To save weight, most of the armour plating was deleted and was the arrangement for later production of the machine.[ After a series of proving flights at Hendon, 1456 was accepted by the RNAS and was flown to Manston for further trials.

These revealed that despite a reduced balance area on the elevators, there was still a tail oscillation problem.

A lack of directional stability caused by the increased forward side area was partly cured by adding a fixed fin but to find the cause of the tail oscillation, the Admiralty called in Frederick Lanchester from the National Physics Laboratory.

Lanchester agreed that simple structural weakness was not the root of the problem and that resonance of the fuselage was the probable cause.

Static tests on the third prototype, 1457, which had a redesigned, stiffer, fuselage structure showed nothing.

This aircraft had an amidships crew position and on 26 June, Lanchester was flown as an observer.

The tail oscillations started at 80 mph (130 km/h); Lanchester observed that the tail was twisting by 15° to either side and deduced that the cause was an asymmetric movement of the right and left halves of the elevators, which were not rigidly linked but connected by long control cables.

He recommended that the halves of the elevators be connected, the elevator balances removed, and further bracing added between the lower longerons and the lower tailplane spar, measures which were wholly successful.

The fourth prototype, 1458, was completed with the same fuselage structure as 1456 and provision for armament, with a Scarff ring mounting in the nose, a pair of post mountings in the mid position, and a gun mounting in the rear fuselage.

This was also the first O/100 to be fitted with 320 hp (240 kW) Eagle engines.

After completing acceptance trials, 1456 and 1457 were retained at Manston to form a Handley Page training flight. The first prototype was rebuilt to production standard and 1458 was used to test a new nacelle design, which was un-armored, had an enlarged fuel tank, and a shorter fairing obviating the need for the tip to fold.

The new nacelle design was used on all aircraft built after the initial batch of twelve. From 1461, an additional 130 imp gal (590 L) fuel tank was fitted in the fuselage above the bomb floor.

A total of 46 O/100s were built before being superseded by the Type O/400.

The most significant difference between the two types was the use of 360 horsepower (270 kW) Eagle VIII engines (£1,622/10/- [£1,622.50] each).
Unlike the earlier version, this engine was not built in right-handed and left-handed versions, because the production of engines of both types for engine type approval had been difficult; wind tunnel tests at the NPL established that the counter-rotating propellers were a cause of the directional instability of the O/100.

It was realised that only one version was necessary, simplifying production and maintenance; the torque effect was overcome by offsetting the fin slightly.

The O/400 had a strengthened fuselage, an increased bomb load, the nacelle tanks were removed and the fuel was carried in two 130 imp gal (590 L) fuselage tanks, supplying a pair of 15 imp gal (68 L) gravity tanks.

The new nacelles were smaller and had simplified supporting struts; the reduction of drag producing an improvement in maximum speed and altitude. The revised nacelle was tested in 3188, which in 1917 was flown at Martlesham Heath with a variety of engine installations.

An initial order for 100 of the revised design, with Sunbeam Maori or Eagle engines, was placed on 14 August but canceled shortly afterward.

Twelve sets of Cricklewood-built components were transferred to the Royal Aircraft Factory, where they were assembled into the first production O/400s.

More than 400 were supplied before the Armistice at a price of £6,000 each.

Another 107 were license-built in the US by the Standard Aircraft Corporation (out of 1,500 ordered by the air corps). Forty-six out of an order for fifty were built by Clayton & Shuttleworth in Lincoln.

Sopwith Pup

Sopwith Pup of World War 1

The Sopwith Pup was a British single-seater biplane fighter aircraft built by the Sopwith Aviation Company.

It entered service with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service in the autumn of 1916.

With pleasant flying characteristics and good maneuverability, the aircraft proved very successful.

The Pup was eventually outclassed by newer German fighters, but it was not completely replaced on the Western Front until the end of 1917.

The remaining Pups were relegated to Home Defence and training units.

The Pup’s docile flying characteristics also made it ideal for use in aircraft carrier deck landing and takeoff experiments. In 1915, Sopwith produced a personal aircraft for the company’s test pilot Harry Hawker, a single-seat, tractor biplane powered by a seven-cylinder 50 hp Gnome rotary engine.

This became known as Hawker’s Runabout; another four similar aircraft have been tentatively identified as Sopwith Sparrows.

Sopwith next developed a larger fighter that was heavily influenced by this design, though more powerful and controlled laterally with ailerons rather than by wing warping.

The resulting aircraft was a single-bay, single-seat biplane with a fabric-covered wooden framework and staggered equal-span wings.

The cross-axle type main landing gear was supported by V-struts attached to the lower fuselage longerons. The prototype and most production Pups were powered by the 80 hp (60 kW) Le Rhône 9C rotary engine. 

The armament was a single 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun synchronized with the Sopwith-Kauper synchronizer.

A prototype was completed in February 1916 and sent to Upavon for testing in late March.

The Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) quickly ordered two more prototypes, then placed a production order. Sopwith was heavily engaged in the production of the 1½ Strutter and produced only a small number of Pups for the RNAs. Deliveries commenced in August 1916.

The Royal Flying Corps (RFC) also placed large orders for Pups. The RFC orders were undertaken by sub-contractors Standard Motor Co. and Whitehead Aircraft. Deliveries did not commence until the beginning of 1917.

A total of 1,770 Pups were built by Sopwith (96), Standard Motor Co. In May 1916, the RNAS received its first Pups for operational trials with “A” Naval Squadron. 

The first Pups reached the Western Front in October 1916 with No. 8 Squadron RNAS, and proved successful, with the squadron’s Pups claiming 20 enemy machines destroyed in operations over the Somme battlefield by the end of the year.

The first RFC Squadron to re-equip with the Pup was No. 54 Squadron, which arrived in France in December.

The Pup quickly proved its superiority over the early Fokker,

Halberstadt and Albatros biplanes.

After encountering the Pup in combat, Manfred von Richthofen said, “We saw at once that the enemy airplane was superior to ours.”

The Pup’s lightweight and generous wing area gave it a good rate of climb.

Agility was enhanced by installing ailerons on both wings.

The Pup had half the horsepower and armament of the German Albatros D.III, but was much more maneuverable, especially over 15,000 ft (4,500 m) due to its low wing loading.

Ace James McCudden stated that “When it came to maneuvering, the Sopwith [Pup] would turn twice to an Albatros’ once … it was a remarkably fine machine for general all-round flying.

It was so extremely light and well surfaced that after a little practice one could almost land it on a tennis court.” However, the Pup was also longitudinally unstable.

At the peak of its operational deployment, the Pup equipped only four RNAS squadrons (Nos. 3, 4, 8 and 9), and three RFC squadrons (Nos. 54, 46, and 66). By the spring of 1917, the Pup had been outclassed by the newest German fighters.

The RNAS replaced their Pups, first with Sopwith Triplanes, and then with Sopwith Camels.

The RFC soldiered on with Pups, in spite of increasing casualties, until it was possible to replace them with Camels in December 1917.

Home Defence duties Pup with 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine The raids on London by Gotha bombers in mid-1917 caused far more damage and casualties than the earlier airship raids.

The ineffective response by British interceptor units had serious political repercussions.

In response, No. 66 Squadron was withdrawn to Calais for a short period, and No. 46 was transferred for several weeks to Sutton’s Farm airfield near London.

Two new Pup squadrons were formed specifically for Home Defence duties, No.

112 in July, and No. 61 in August. The first Pups delivered to Home Defence units utilised the 80 hp Le Rhône, but subsequent Home Defence Pups standardised on the more powerful 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape, which provided the improved rate of climb.

These aircraft were distinguishable by the addition of vents in the cowling face.

Shipboard use Sqn Cdr E. H. Dunning attempting a landing on HMS Furious in a Sopwith Pup (August 1917) Sopwith Pups were also used in many pioneering carrier experiments.

On 2 August 1917, a Pup flown by Sqn Cdr Edwin Dunning became the first aircraft to land aboard a moving ship, HMS Furious. Dunning was killed on his third landing when the Pup fell over the side of the ship.

The Pup began operations on the carriers in early 1917; the first aircraft were fitted with skid undercarriages in place of the standard landing gear.

Landings utilised a system of deck wires to “trap” the aircraft. Later versions reverted to the normal undercarriage. Pups were used as ship-based fighters on three carriers: HMS Campania, Furious and Manxman.

A number of other Pups were deployed to cruisers and battleships where they were launched from platforms attached to gun turrets.

A Pup flew from a platform on the cruiser HMS Yarmouth shot down the German Zeppelin L 23 off the Danish coast on 21 August 1917.

The U.S. Navy also employed the Sopwith Pup with famed Australian/British test pilot Edgar Percival testing the use of carrier-borne fighters. In 1926, Percival was catapulted in a Pup of the battleship USS Idaho at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Bristol Scout

The British Scout of World War 1

The term scout, as a description of a class of military aircraft, came into use shortly before the First World War, and initially referred to a fast (for its time), light (usually single-seated) unarmed reconnaissance aircraft.

“Scout” types were generally adaptations of pre-war racing aircraft – although at least one (the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2) was specifically designed for the role.

At this stage, the possibility of air-to-air combat was considered highly speculative, and the speed of these aircraft relative to their contemporaries was seen as an advantage in gaining immunity from ground fire and in the ability to deliver timely reconnaissance reports.

Almost from the beginning of the war, various experiments were carried out in the fitting of armament to scouts to enable them to engage in air-to-air combat – by early 1916 several types of scout could fire a machine gun forwards, in the line of flight, thus becoming the first effective single-seat fighter aircraft – in effect, an entirely new class of aircraft.

In French and German usage these types were termed “hunters” (chasseur, Jäger), but in the Royal Flying Corps and early Royal Air Force parlance “scout” remained the usual term for a single-seat fighter into the early 1920s.

The term “fighter”, or “fighting aircraft” was already current, but in this period referred specifically to a two-seater fighter such as the Sopwith 1½ Strutter or the Bristol Fighter.

This usage of the”scout” (or sometimes “fighting scout”) for “single-seat fighter” can be found in many contemporary accounts, including fictional depictions of First World War air combat such as the Biggles books.

These often refer to French or German “scouts” as well as British ones.

Sopwith Cuckoo

The Sopwith Cuckoo of World War 1

In October 1916, Commodore Murray Sueter, the Air Department’s Superintendent of Aircraft Construction, solicited Sopwith for a single-seat aircraft capable of carrying a 1,000 lb torpedo and sufficient fuel to provide an endurance of four hours.

The resulting aircraft, designated T.1 by Sopwith, was a large, three-bay biplane. Because the T.1 was designed to operate from carrier decks, its wings were hinged to fold backward.

The T.1 could take off from a carrier deck in four seconds, but it was not capable of making a carrier landing and no arresting gear was fitted.

A split-axle undercarriage allowed the aircraft to carry a 1,000 lb Mk. IX torpedo beneath the fuselage.

The prototype T.1 first flew in June 1917, powered by a 200 hp Hispano-Suiza 8Ba engine.

Official trials commenced in July 1917 and the Admiralty issued production orders for 100 aircraft in August.

Contractors Fairfield Engineering and Pegler & Company had no experience as aircraft manufacturers, however, resulting in substantial production delays.

Moreover, the S.E.5a had priority for the limited supplies of the Hispano-Suiza 8. Redesign of the T.1 airframe to accommodate the heavier Sunbeam Arab incurred further delays.

In February 1918, the Admiralty issued a production order to Blackburn Aircraft, an experienced aircraft manufacturer.

Blackburn delivered its first T.1 in May 1918.

The aircraft immediately experienced undercarriage and tail skid failures, requiring redesign of those components.

The T.1 also required an enlarged rudder and offset vertical stabilizer to combat its tendency to swing to the right.

Fairfield and Pegler finally began production in August and October, respectively.

A total of 300 T.1s were ordered, but only 90 aircraft had been delivered by the Armistice.

A total of 232 aircraft had been completed by the time production ended in 1919.

Blackburn Aircraft produced 162 aircraft, while Fairfield Engineering completed 50 and Pegler & Company completed another 20.

After the Armistice, many T.1s were delivered directly to storage depots at Renfrew and Newcastle.

After undergoing service trials at RAF East Fortune, the T.1 was recommended for squadron service.

Deliveries to the Torpedo Aeroplane School at East Fortune commenced in early August 1918.

Training took place in the Firth of Forth, where Cuckoos launched practice torpedoes at targets towed by destroyers. Cuckoos of No. 185 Squadron embarked on HMS Argus in November 1918, but hostilities ended before the aircraft could conduct any combat operations.

In service, the aircraft was generally popular with pilots because the airframe was strong and water landings were safe.

The T.1 was easy to control and was fully aerobatic without a torpedo payload.

The Arab engine proved unsatisfactory, however, and approximately 20 T.1s were converted to use Wolseley Viper engines.

These aircraft, later designated Cuckoo Mk. IIs, could be distinguished by the Viper’s lower thrust line. The Arab-engined variant was designated Cuckoo Mk. I.

The Cuckoo’s operational career ended when the last unit to use the type, No. 210 Squadron, disbanded at Gosport on 1 April 1923.

The Cuckoo was replaced in service by the Blackburn Dart.

Planned use
Throughout 1917, Commodore Sueter proposed plans for an aerial torpedo attack on the German High Seas Fleet at its base in Germany.

The carriers HMS Argus, HMS Furious, and HMS Campania, and the converted cruisers HMS Courageous and HMS Glorious, were to have launched 100 Cuckoos from the North Sea.

In September 1917, Admiral Sir David Beatty, commander of the Grand Fleet, proposed a similar plan involving 120 Cuckoos launched from eight converted merchant vessels.

Sopwith Camel

The Sopwith Camel of World War 1

Sopwith Camel was introduced in 1917 and made by Sopwith Aviation Company.

The company was founded in Kingston upon Thames in the United Kingdom by Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith.

The Warplane was a single-seater biplane fighter, the Plane was regarded as a difficult plane to handle.

The Sopwith Camel had shot down over almost 1300 enemy Aircraft during the First World War more than any other allied fighter plane during the First World War.

The Sopwith Camel was used more as a ground attack aircraft during the later stages of the War as it became outclassed with newer technology in Air to Air Battle

The Sopwith Camel was armed with twin synchronised Machine guns and a powerful Rotary engine.

The Sopwith Camel soon became unpopular with Student pilots being a difficult Aircraft to handle.

By the mid-1918 the Aircraft was more restricted as a day fighter due to the slow speed of the plane and poor performances at high altitudes.

The Sopwith Camel played a key role in the ground-attack and infantry support aircraft during the German offensive of March 1918.