The Sopwith 1½ Strutter was a British, two-seater multi-purpose aircraft which was mainly used as a bomber in the middle of the First World War.
Development and design:
In December 1914, Sopwith Aviation, under the direction of Fred Sigrist, developed a small, two-seater biplane powered by an 80 HP Gnome rotary engine. On June 5, 1915 the prototype flew for the first time and set a new altitude record at the beginning. Despite the record, however, only one prototype was built to serve as the basis for further development.
The company's own designer Herbert Smith shortly thereafter oriented himself to the basic model and developed the Sopwith LCT with a 110 HP Clerget engine by the end of 1915. The fuselage consisted of a usual wire, wood and fabric construction, only the tip and the fairing of the engine were made of aluminium sheet. The wings were attached to each other at the outer ends with longer struts. At the fuselage however only with half long struts, which looked forward similar to the letter W and gave the name Sopwith 1½ Strutter to the airplane because of the brevity. In autumn 1916 the production was supplemented by the 130 HP strong Clerget 9B engine, which replaced the predecessor model.
The pilot and the observer were accommodated in two tandem cockpits that were far apart. The pilot sat in front and the observer in the back. In the first aircraft produced, a temporary holder for the Lewis machine gun was mounted around the observer's cockpit. A Scarff ring could only be fitted uniformly in later aircraft. Also the synchronized machine gun for the pilot could only be introduced in the later production process. Although the first aircraft were retrofitted with appropriate gear wheels, these only functioned to a limited extent and had to be replaced later with the correct Scarff-Dibovski gearboxes. For the bomber version, brackets were attached to the lower wing with which the aircraft could carry 4 x 11 kilograms of bombs. For the submarine hunting version, the brackets could be exchanged for two with which the aircraft could carry 2 x 29 kilograms of bombs.
For experimental purposes the cockpit of the observer was also removed in order to be able to load more bombs and fuel. Except for some experimental airplanes this idea was not continued.
The first flight of the prototype took place on 16 December 1915. Until 24 January 1916 further flights and tests were carried out until the aircraft were put into service under the official designation Admirality Type 6400 and Admirality Type 6700 for the single seat version.
By the end of the war about 5.720 aircraft had been built.
Use in the First World War:
The delivery of the first aircraft began in February 1916. The 5th wing of the Royal Naval Air Service was the first to receive the new aircraft. These should serve as escort for the already used Caudron G.4 and Breguet Bombers.
Due to the agreements between Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service about the preservation of the aircraft, the next aircraft were delivered to the 70th squadron in northern France, also due to the upcoming Somme offensive. At this time the German air superiority with the used Fokker airplanes had already been finished for the time being and the Sopwith 1½ Strutter could penetrate due to their range and armament deep behind the German lines and attack targets there. The aircraft showed a heavy but stable flight performance.
When in October 1916 the 45th squadron arrived in northern France with the airplanes, the German Luftwaffe already started to use the new Albatros fighters on the western front. With the 43rd squadron which arrived in January 1917, the aircraft was also reclassified from a bomber to a fighter. Despite the more powerful engine, the aircraft was already obsolete and clearly defeated the German Albatros aircraft.
From the middle of the year 1917 it was begun to withdraw the Sopwith 1½ Strutter from the western front and to use it for the homeland defense in Great Britain.
In addition to Great Britain, France in particular used the aircraft for its armed forces in large numbers. In order to replace the obsolete pushers Farman and Breguet Bomber, the French Air Force started the licensed construction of the Sopwith 1½ Strutter directly in France in mid-1916. The majority of the 5.720 aircraft built were not only built in France but also used by France itself until the beginning of 1918.
|Designation:||Sopwith 1½ Strutter|
|Type:||Bomber, Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft|
|Weight:||570 kg empty|
|Engine:||One Clerget 9Z rotary engine with 110 PS
From autumn 1916 a Clerget 9B engine with 130 HP
|Maximum speed:||164 km/h|
|Range:||Max. 565 kilometres|
|Arming:||1 x 7,7 mm Lewis machine gun
1 x 7,7 mm Vickers machine gun
4 x 11 kilogram bombs