Sopwith 1½ Strutter

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.


Sopwith 1½ Strutter


Sopwith 1½ Strutter


Sopwith 1½ Strutter




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.



A French Sopwith 1½ Strutter Squadron




Technical data:

Designation: Sopwith 1½ Strutter
Country: Great Britain


Type: Bomber, Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft
Length: 7,7 meters
Span: 10,21 meters
Height: 3,12 meters
Weight: 570 kg empty
Crew: Max. 2
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






You can find the right literature here:


The First Air War, 1914-1918

The First Air War, 1914-1918 Hardcover – December 1, 1990

In this concise study, Kennett tells the complete story of World War I's air battles, from Eastern to Western front, from the skies of Europe and its seas to those of the Middle East and Africa.

Click here!



Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide)

Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide) 2nd Edition

Illustrated with detailed artworks of combat aircraft and their markings, Aircraft of World War I: The Essential Aircraft Identification Guide is a comprehensive study of the aircraft that fought in the Great War of 1914–18. Arranged chronologically by theatre of war and campaign, this book offers a complete organizational breakdown of the units on all the fronts, including the Eastern and Italian Fronts. Each campaign includes a compact history of the role and impact of aircraft on the course of the conflict, as well as orders of battle, lists of commanders and campaign aces such as Manfred von Richtofen, Eddie Rickenbacker, Albert Ball and many more. Every type of aircraft is featured, including the numerous variations and types of well- known models, such as the Fokker Dr.I, the Sopwith Camel and the SPAD SVII, through to lesser-known aircraft, such as the Rumpler C.1, and the Amstrong Whitworth FK8. Each aircraft profile is accompanied by exhaustive specifications, as well as details of individual and unit markings. Packed with more than 200 color profiles of every major type of combat aircraft from the era, Aircraft of World War I 1914–1918 is an essential reference guide for modellers, military historians and aircraft enthusiasts.

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World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF

World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF Hardcover – June 13, 2011

Jack McCleery was born in Belfast in 1898, the son of a mill owning family. He joined the RNAS in 1916 as a Probationary Flight Officer. During the next ten months he completed his training at Crystal Palace, Eastchurch, Cranwell, Frieston, Calshot and Isle of Grain, flying more than a dozen landplanes, seaplanes and flying boats, gaining his wings as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant. In July 1917 he was posted to the newly commissioning aircraft carrier HMS Furious, which would be based at Scapa Flow and Rosyth. He served in this ship until February 1919, flying Short 184 seaplanes and then Sopwith 1½ Strutters off the deck. He also flew a large number of other types during this time from shore stations at Turnhouse, East Fortune and Donibristle.

He served with important and well-known naval airmen including Dunning, Rutland (of Jutland) and Bell Davies VC. He witnessed Dunning’s first successful landing on a carrier flying a Sopwith Pup in 1917 and his tragic death a few days later. He also witnessed the Tondern raid in 1918, the world’s first carrier strike mission. He took part in more than a dozen sweeps into the North Sea by elements of the Grand Fleet and Battle Cruiser Fleet. He carried out reconnaissance missions off the coast of Denmark, landing in the sea to be picked up by waiting destroyers. He witnessed the surrender of the High Seas Fleet. Promoted to Captain, he acted as temporary CO of F Squadron for a time postwar.

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A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness

A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness Paperback – June 25, 2014

A deeply personal and revealing eyewitness narrative of one airman's life as a bomber pilot in England 's RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) in WWI. It is a true story, an adventure, and a war memoir carefully constructed from Captain Donald E. Harkness's unpublished diaries, letters, sketches and photographs - only recently uncovered nearly a century later - that documented his remarkable experiences and military adventures over England, France and Belgium. The first book written by a highly decorated WWI flyer from New Zealand that captures the "behind the scenes" life of RNAS pilots, as well as the surprises, terrors, traumas, humor, and sheer excitement of an aerial form of combat never before experienced by anyone, anywhere - and only eleven short years after the Wright Brothers historic flight at Kitty Hawk. With a talent for writing, Don begins an epic journey at a major turning point in history when the world is poised at the dawn of flight, and bracing itself for unknown dangers of unprecedented sophistication and savagery. Don's journal reveals unique insights and vivid imagery of another time and experience, to wit: - the terror and devastation of a Zeppelin bombing raid in London - the training regimen of early flying schools, and their serious & comic episodes - the wonder, awe, and poetry of flying aloft in the majestic heavens - vivid bombing raids, plus the raid that earned him the DSC - his crash-landing and capture - working with the underground to help downed pilots evade capture - London's unrestrained exuberance on Armistice Day; . . . and much, much more.

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