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P_7878

Few pictures (and notes) about the Sopwith Camel...

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[Note: Today, among the Freeware files, I came across the Sopwith Camel, a (little) biplane (of WW I times) that has somewhat always drawn my attention (I like the wheels on them...ūüôā...)...Along with S.E.5a, the Sopwith Camel is one of the best-known aircraft of the First World War. (On a lighter note and of added interest: The Sopwith Camel is the "plane" that (Charles Schulz's) Snoopy character is flying, in the Peanuts comic strip, where he imagines himself as a World War I flying ace and the nemesis of the Red Baron...pretending his doghouse to be a Sopwith Camel....ūüôā...)]

Anyway, I snapped a few quick SIM pictures of the Freeware Sopwith Camel's repaint variations. I've also collected, below, some historical facts and notes about the plane (the Wiki was good reading, indeed).

Hope you enjoy these images and the (summarized) notes, below,...(about this Classic aircraft)...

All pictures are taken at/above KSEA...!

[Freeware(Sopwith)/Orbx(PNW)/REX]

  1. In 1915, Sopwith had produced a personal aircraft for the company's test pilot Harry Hawker, a single-seat biplane, known as Hawker's Runabout; another four similar aircraft had been tentatively identified as Sopwith Sparrows (I like these names here...ūüôā...). Sopwith next developed a larger (and more powerful) fighter heavily influenced by this design. The resulting aircraft was also a single-seat biplane with some fuselage modifications. This prototype was Sopwith Pup, that would next evolve to the design of Sopwith Camel.
  2. Sopwith Pup (see above) was found no match for the (newer) German Albatros D.III, but the Sopwith Camel proved itself to be a more capable (and versatile) match (until later, mid-2018, when the Sopwith Camel would be outclassed by other (German) fighters such as the famous Fokker D.VII). Here is a 3 min (SIM) video, I found interesting, (please search for "Sopwith Pup vs. Albatros D.III"). The ending (last ~5 seconds) is (expectedly) not good for the Albatros...!
  3. In its early stage, referred to, as the "Big Pup", this Sopwith variant came to be called "Camel" by the Pilots, because a metal fairing over the gun breeches, intended to protect the guns from freezing at altitude, created a "hump" likened to that of a Camel.
  4. One variant of the Camel came to be called the Sopwith "Comic" Night fighter. The "Comic" was designed specifically for night-fighting duties. The two Vickers guns (directly-in-front-mounted), were replaced by two Lewis guns firing forward over the top wing, as the muzzle flash of the Vickers guns could blind the pilot. To allow reloading of the guns, the pilot was moved about 12 inches to the rear and to compensate the fuel tank was moved forward. This modification allowed the guns to be fired without affecting the pilot's night vision. The "Comic" nickname was, of course, unofficial (probably, coined by pilots again...!)...[Note: You will notice the Vickers machine guns, in one of the close-up shots below.]
  5. The Camel was considered to be difficult to fly. The type owed both its extreme maneuverability and its difficult handling to the close placement of the "engine", "pilot", "guns" and "fuel" tank (some 90% of the aircraft's weight) within the front seven feet of the aircraft...! It was noted that, "In the hands of a novice it displayed vicious characteristics that could make it a killer; but under the firm touch of a skilled pilot, who knew how to turn its vices to his own advantage, it was one of the most superb fighting machines ever built". The aircraft could be rigged so that at higher altitudes it could be flown "hands off" (primitive form of "autopilot"...ūüôā...?). RFC crew used to joke that it offered the choice between "a wooden cross, the Red Cross, or a Victoria Cross"
  6. Consider, also, this curious fact: The Camel turned more slowly to the left, which resulted in a nose-up attitude due to the torque of the rotary engine, but the torque also resulted in being able to turn to the right quicker than other fighters, although that resulted in a tendency towards a nose-down attitude from the turn. Because of the faster turning capability to the right, some pilots preferred to change heading 90¬į to the left by turning 270¬į to the right...!
  7. On the Camel, some inexperienced pilots crashed on take-off when the full fuel load pushed the aircraft's center of gravity beyond the rearmost safe limits. "In spite of the care we took, Camels continually spun down out of control when flown by pupils on their first solos...". When in level flight, the Camel was markedly tail-heavy, so that the pilot had to apply constant forward pressure on the control stick to maintain a level attitude at low altitude. Add to this complexity, the fact, "In the March of 1918, squadrons of Camels participated in some of the most intense air operations, in which the Camels flew at as low as 500 feet of altitude for surprise attacks"...Could not have been easy..!!
  8. During the summer of 1918, a 2F.1 Camel participated in a series of trials as a "parasite" fighter (an interesting concept). A "parasite" aircraft is carried aloft, attached, by a special type of hook, to another (larger) carrier aircraft (called mother ship), and is air launched by the carrier aircraft to support the primary mission of the carrier. Sopwith Camel's mother ship was the dirigible balloon Airship 23.
  9. The 2F.1 Camel naval variants (called "Ship's" Camel) were also found suitable for launching from some of the first aircraft carriers to be ever built (the earliest precursors to today's super-carrier and jet fighter operations...DCS SIM images come to mind, here...!)....

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Edited by P_7878
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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, P_7878 said:

 

  1. The Camel was considered to be difficult to fly. The type owed both its extreme maneuverability and its difficult handling to the close placement of the "engine", "pilot", "guns" and "fuel" tank (some 90% of the aircraft's weight) within the front seven feet of the aircraft...! It was noted that, "In the hands of a novice it displayed vicious characteristics that could make it a killer; but under the firm touch of a skilled pilot, who knew how to turn its vices to his own advantage, it was one of the most superb fighting machines ever built". The aircraft could be rigged so that at higher altitudes it could be flown "hands off" (primitive form of "autopilot"...ūüôā...?). RFC crew used to joke that it offered the choice between "a wooden cross, the Red Cross, or a Victoria Cross"
  2. Consider, also, this curious fact: The Camel turned more slowly to the left, which resulted in a nose-up attitude due to the torque of the rotary engine, but the torque also resulted in being able to turn to the right quicker than other fighters, although that resulted in a tendency towards a nose-down attitude from the turn. Because of the faster turning capability to the right, some pilots preferred to change heading 90¬į to the left by turning 270¬į to the right...!

The main problem with the Camel was not really that it was difficult to fly for a decent pilot, it was the fact that inexperienced flyers were often put in the thing without adequate training or sufficient knowledge.

The Sopwith Camel could be dangerous if its attributes were not well understood, so its difficult reputation was really a training issue, not a problem with the type itself. Many student pilots in that era, with very few hours, would go from fairly docile trainers with dual controls, to a twitchy Camel with an engine almost twice the horsepower of their previous mount. And this whilst they had absolutely no idea whatsoever how to recover from a spin, often unaware as to what would cause one in the first place too. In this unforgiving training regime, large numbers of fatal accidents were inevitable. So whilst the Camel did shoot down more enemy aeroplanes than any other type in WW1, it also killed more Allied pilots than it did German flyers, because of that terrible attrition rate in training plus the losses in combat from those flying it at the front.

Another problem with the Camel when being flown by low hours pilots, in addition to its propensity for a spin if mishandled during turns, was with leaning its engine and keeping it running. Rotary engines require quite a bit of careful management; for one thing, they don't actually have a throttle, instead always running 'flat out'. To alleviate this, they have a blip control on the control column which can be used to cut the magneto feed to some of the cylinders in order to reduce power output; depending on the type, such switches were usually able to chop the electrical feed from the regular all nine cylinders of normal use, down to seven or five, so in effect making power reductions for landing approaches possible, but also risking choking on unignited fuel if not sufficiently leaned off.

Many trainee pilots were not properly taught how to lean the fuel mixture off, which resulted in the engines cutting out on the climb, due to being over-rich at altitude or as noted, choking on excess fuel and oil when using the blip switch on approach. If the novice did not then keep the nose down sufficiently, they would cause a stall/spin at low altitude, which in any case they frequently had no idea how to recover from even if there was sufficient height to affect a recovery.

So again this was a training issue rather than a fault with the Camel itself, which although unforgiving in comparison to some other types, was only thus if mishandled by someone without sufficient skill, knowledge and experience in flying, to keep it operating safely. Of course the other problem with the Camel was that it then gained a bit of a reputation as the bogeyman among students, which only served to add to the problem, for in such circumstances, this fearful reputation could affect a trainee pilot's ability to think clearly, creating something of a vicious circle for accidents.

Moreover, when the Camel was going into service at the front, the considerably 'safer' - i.e. less prone to a spin by virtue of having a stationary engine and less likely to break up under G loads owing to being heavier in construction - and much more capable R.A.F. SE5, and the later SE5a, probably would have been better introductory types for novices at OTUs. Unfortunately, initial problems with the Hispano Suiza engines in the early SE5s meant its introduction was delayed; this in fact was one of the reasons why Sopwith used the 130 HP Clerget and the 150 HP Bentley rotary engines in the Camel. In spite of their issues for low hours pilots in particular and their increasing obsolescence in comparison to the more advanced Wolsley engine in the SE5a, the rotaries were pretty much the only available choice if one was to make a fighter sufficiently powerful enough to have a decent ceiling whilst being able to carry twin MGs plus a bomb load, and have something without initial reliability issues in not being a newer engine type.

It's no accident that rotary-engined aeroplanes disappeared from the skies pretty much immediately after WW1 ended. For a time they were a usable choice, but the moment stationary engines started using alloy casting, it was obvious rotaries were on the way out.

 

Edited by Chock
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Alan Bradbury

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Quite intricate details, Alan...Thanks!! I like the Wikis a lot, and, given time, I do tend to explore other sources for additional informative details, not found in the Wiki, like what you're explaining here,...

I picked up on a couple of significant remarks, from below, for some thoughts on my part:

"...it was the fact that inexperienced flyers were often put in the thing without adequate training or sufficient knowledge..."

That is the main point...there was just not enough time (but, a "marching order" so-to-speak, from above). And as you've said, "...with very few hours..." of training and with "...SE5s introduction...delayed...", unfortunately...(very good later point)...

BTW, in not so (drastically) lethal circumstances, I/we have all also seen (or even experienced ourselves) the same scenarios, in our modern industries too...ūüôā...the freshmen put to task, without the time for (or exposure to) adequate training...not with good results, at least, in the short term...

And, "...for one thing, they don't actually have a throttle, instead always running 'flat out'. To alleviate this, they have a blip control on the control column which can be used to cut the magneto feed to some of the cylinders in order to reduce power output..."

Very interesting point and something I had no idea about! Frankly, I feel so naive, here, pushing my Throttle, on the SIM, and thinking I'm experiencing the thrust-logic of a Camel...not even close...!

Anyway, thanks for these (fine) aspects about the Camel...(this plane was, nonetheless, special indeed, with some mis-understood attributes, aggravated by lack of sufficient pilot training)...!

Those were the (bygone) times...fascinating history, I would say...!!

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Great posts!  Thanks!

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I7-7700k@4.7ghz | 32gb RAM | EVGA GTX1080 8gb | Mostly P3Dv5 (also IL2:BoX, DCS, XP11)

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Posted (edited)

With regard to power settings by means of cutting the magneto to several cylinders on a rotary engine, it is actually possible to simulate this (somewhat) in FSX or P3D if you fancy trying it. What you can do, if you have a joystick with a few buttons you can hit with your thumb, is to assign throttle up/down to a few buttons on your stick in the options, and include a setting for how many times it repeats with a button press to ensure it drops to 30 percent or 70 percent with a push, then back to 100 percent with another push. Most of the time you probably would want to be at 100 percent for combat and climbing etc, with the magneto blip control being used for landings, and only for short periods.

The reason for this, is that in real life, when you used the blip switch to cut the magneto electrical supply to some of the cylinders, the engine would of course be running unbalanced, and being a rotary, it is also spinning around, this would cause quite vicious vibrations which would almost certainly shake the aeroplane to pieces if allowed to continue for a lengthy period, especially on the more fragile WW1 types such as the Nieuport with its sesquiplane wing, which was already prone to flutter without needing any help from a rough-running engine! This is why most modern replicas of WW1 aeroplanes use a stationary radial engine such as a Warner Scarab, equipped with a normal throttle, and even if they do use a rotary engine for authenticity in looks, they tend to replace the blip system with a modern throttle arrangement for reasons of improved safety and convenience.

If you want to tweak the sim controls to make the Camel handle like the real thing, you'll need to make it very tail heavy (as was the case with nearly every WW1 type), with extremely sensitive elevators. The Camel had (and needed) good rudder authority, but it had somewhat inadequate ailerons which also caused a fair bit of adverse yaw because, as with most WW1 types, the Camel's ailerons are not balanced.

If you take a look at this footage (below) of Von Richthofen's Fokker Dr.1 FI102 being propped (timestamp 2:25), you can see that the rotary engine has a fair bit of mass to it and quite a stiff compression stroke, so you can imagine what that would be like when spinning around at high speed and how much it would be vibrating when some of the cylinders were not firing. Look at the impressive climb rate of the Dr.1 when it takes off (timestamp 4:55). At timestamp 5:15 you can see Richthofen and his squadron mates inspecting Richthofen's 61st official victory - which was gained in the Dr.1 you see on this footage - FI102 - on September 3 1917 - this being Sopwith Pup B1795, piloted by Lt A.F. Bird. Happily on the occasion of this combat, Lt Bird survived the encounter. He can be seen chatting with Richthofen and his pals on that same day, before eventually being carted off to a POW camp. Richthofen would of course eventually be shot down himself whilst piloting another Dr.1 (425/17), possibly by a Sopwith Camel, or by several gunners on the ground who were taking potshots at him as he pursued another Camel at low level.

Who really shot Richthofen has never been firmly established - the RAF were keen to credit a pilot in a Camel, for obvious reasons, and that may well have been the case - although from the angle of the exit and entry wound which killed him, I suspect it was the Australian MG crew he flew past which really got him. Whoever it was, like all the deaths in WW1 both well known and anonymous, it was a very sad end for a young man who felt a duty to keep on fighting even though he was clearly suffering from what we would now understand as PTSD by the time of his death.

 

Edited by Chock
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Alan Bradbury

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Great thread and very informative - thankyou!

Interesting film as well, a familiar face appears around 06:59 - seen walking downstairs, is it who I think it may be?????

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Thanks for the (SIM) suggestions, Alan! It would be worth trying...!

Great video clip...(btw, only Black & White does justice to this content)...

The smiles on these guys are quite infectious...

That last minute "tightening" before starting the prop...(it clearly took two pairs of hands to start it)...

And, agree, the plane sharply climbing away into the sky to become a dot....quite evocative, indeed...!!

 

20 hours ago, Major_Bloodnok said:

Great thread and very informative - thankyou!

Interesting film as well, a familiar face appears around 06:59 - seen walking downstairs, is it who I think it may be?????

Glad you enjoyed the thread contributions, Major_B....(Maybe, Alan, can confirm your inkling here...ūüôā...)...

 

Adding, here, a bit more to wrap up the story of this Classic plane's ancestry:

While looking around, today, I came across a (rare and curious) float version of the Sopwith that caught my attention. The Sopwith Baby (a precursor to the Camel) was a single-seat tractor seaplane used by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) from 1915. Its first flight was September 1915. (Side note: The Camel's (later) first flight was 22 December 1916). The Babies also saw service with the navies of the United States, France, Chile, Norway, and Greece (Hellenic Navy - see below).

Here is a bit of description (from the Aircraft.cfg) for the two Hellenic Navy Sopwith Baby variants illustrated in the images below:

"The Royal Hellenic Navy had in Reality a Sopwith Baby which was just the modified version of the single seater Schneider (no known model) but same type (In service: 1917, Role: Fighter, Battle Order and Action: WW I), of unknown number with British markings".

Anyway, please find a few images, below, of the Sopwith Baby (Float). For locale, I've chosen, the skies over (the beautiful) Queenstown (NZQN) airport...

[Note of credit: I wish to to give credit, here, to Craig Richardson (Classic Wings), someone who, in the past, has contributed significantly to my aviation interest, through his (excellent) freeware contributions, and, here, for the original models of the these Sopwith planes...]

Enjoy!

[Freeware(Sopwith)/Orbx(NZSI/NZQN)/REX]

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Posted (edited)

For those who are curious, the guy coming down the stairs in that video is indeed Herman Goering. He took over as the commander of Richthofen's JG 1 (subsequently named 'Jasta Richthofen' in honour of the Red Baron) after the commander who took the reigns upon Richthofen's death (Willhelm Reinhard) was killed in an accident in early July of 1918.

For those of you who are familiar with the fictional movie The Blue Max, the scene at the end where George Peppard's central character - Bruno Stachel - is bumped off as a result of his misdemeanors by being told really throw the plane he is testing about to show it off to the crowd, despite the preceding test pilot having just landed it and declared it a death trap, is based on a real incident, involving Goering.

In the real incident, Jasta 1's commander - Willhelm Reinhard - who as noted had stepped in to command the Jasta after the death of Richthofen, was at Adlerhof airfield, where he took the prototype Dornier-Zeppelin D.1 up for a test flight. He was not told that the previous pilot who test flew it (Goering) had declared it dangerous and that the type was supposed to be grounded to await structural modifications. Unaware of this, Reinhard took it up and it broke up in flight, killing him. The Dornier-Zeppelin D.1 was subsequently corrected of its deficiencies and became the subject of intense study in the US after WW1 since it was one of the first all-metal types, but it was too late into production to affect the battle in WW1.

Various conspiracy theories (yes they were a thing even back then) floated about suggesting that Goering may have orchestrated this in order to gain promotion to command of the Richthofen Jasta. This is probably not true and more of a coincidence, but what is true is that Goering was not particularly well liked by the pilots of the Jasta. Goering was known to be something of a martinet,  prone to mood swings. This is particularly in his later life when he was addicted to morphine which made the problem much worse. He  would fly off the handle at subordinates, berating them severely, but then turn on the charm moments later in order to try to redress the balance. This aspect of his character is compressed nicely into the brief appearances of him portrayed in the movie, The Battle of Britain, which sum him up pretty well.

Nevertheless, Goering was a pretty good fighter pilot. He finished the First World War with a respectable 22 confirmed victories and whilst there is often some controversy surrounding the scores of various pilots in WW1, particularly the commanders of squadrons, it is fairly certain that at least 20 of his victory claims were beyond doubt when checked against aircraft losses and records. Had he not been wounded in aerial combat while serving in Jasta 5, subsequently spending almost a year recovering from the injury, there's little doubt that Goering would have achieved many more aerial victories than he did.

Goering was an odd character for sure. He was often mocked for his obesity in later life and regarded as a joke by many of the German populace, but he was in fact a very dangerous man to have as an enemy. Oddly enough, he actually did not mind people making jokes about him though, he regarded it as a mark of his popularity that he would be the subject of humour and he was himself known to be a pretty good joker on occasion, even managing to make the Nuremberg Trial attendees laugh on several occasions despite the seriousness of those proceedings.

Having met Adolf H in the early 1920s, Goering was involved in the failed Beer Hall Putsch which ended up with Adolf being imprisoned, Goering scarpered to Austria to avoid a similar fate. Goering was injured in that incident (shot in the leg) and it was in being prescribed morphine for the wound that he became addicted to the drug. Goering may possibly also have been a transvestite (fair enough, whatever floats your boat), being known for some extremely weird and extravagant outfits which make his blue Reichmarshall outfit of WW2 look subtle and understated by comparison. He once greeted the Italian foreign minister - Galeazzo Ciano - who was attending one of Goering's frequent lavish parties, whilst dressed in a long outlandish fur coat which Ciano described as being 'the kind of outfit a high class hooker wears to the opera'.  During these parties, Goering would frequently change into different outlandish outfits several times throughout the evening.

It is interesting to speculate how WW2 and history at large would have turned out though if it had been Goering which had died in that crash of the WW1 prototype, given his involvement in some of the Third Reich's nastier goings on. One of the alternative historian writers among us I suppose.

Edited by Chock
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Alan Bradbury

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***Fantastic Post and Responses,Thank You All for a Very Interesting Read***

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Patrick

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4 hours ago, Chock said:

Oddly enough, he actually did not mind people making jokes about him though, he regarded it as a mark of his popularity that he would be the subject of humour and he was himself known to be a pretty good joker on occasion

In a perverse way, we could do with a lot more people with that trait in the current world we live in... :blush:

When you mentioned about him wearing outlandish outfits, I found myself humming that song from the Producers: Springtime for H..... in Germany.. :biggrin:

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Mark Robinson

"What's it doing now?"

Author of FLIGHT: A near-future short story (ebook available on amazon)

I made the baby cry - A2A Simulations L-049 Constellation

Sky Simulations MD-11 V2.2 Pilot. The best "lite" MD-11 money can buy (well, it's not freeware!)

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Folks: Thanks for your interest and the comments...!!

Alan: Appreciated building up this (modest) post...so, a (barely) 15-20 minutes of (cursory) effort, on my part, that, too, with a such a simple aircraft, led to a great educational experience...good stuff, indeed,...goes to show both a complex PMDG MD-11 and a freeware Biplane have their respective place (and value) in our SIM...ūüôā...!

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