Sopwith Pup

The Sopwith Pup was a British, single-seater fighter pilot who was introduced in the middle of the First World War and became one of the most successful British fighter pilots.


Development and design:

In the course of the year 1915 an airplane was built in the company Sopwith Aviation Company, which should serve at first only as a private airplane for the test pilot Harry Hawker. It was equipped with a 50 HP Gnome rotation engine.

Four similar planes were built shortly afterwards and were called Sopwith Sparrows.

On the basis of the 5 airplanes the constructors began to develop a fighter plane, which was based on the already built airplanes, but was more armoured and bigger. The resulting prototype had a cloth-covered wooden frame and staggered wings of equal span. The landing gear was attached to the fuselage with V-braces, thus ensuring a stable landing.

An 80 HP Le Rhône 9C engine was selected for the engine, and the aircraft was equipped with a synchronized Vickers machine gun. Instead of the Vickers machine gun, a Lewis machine gun firing diagonally upwards was attached to the upper wing of the aircraft for the Royal Flying Corps.

The first prototype was completed in February 1916 and the first test flights took place in March. The Royal Naval Air Service then ordered two more aircraft for testing. After the completion of the tests, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps ordered larger quantities. As the Sopwith Aviation Company was already working at full capacity with the production of the Sopwith 1½ Strutter at that time, the orders for production were placed with subcontractors. A total of 1,770 aircraft of this type were built.


Sopwith Pup


Drawing of a Sopwith Pup


Sopwith Pup


Sopwith Pup




Use in the First World War:

Delivery of the first aircraft began in October 1916. The 8th squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service and the 54th squadron of the Royal Flying Corps were among the first to deploy them on the western front.

At this time the Sopwith Pup proved to be superior to the German Fokker, Halberstadt and Albatros aircraft. Especially the manoeuvrability ensured that the lower armament and performance could be compensated.

After a fight with the British Sopwith Pup even the German pilot Manfred von Richthofen praised these airplanes, but at the same time he criticized their dive capability.

By the end of 1916, 7 squadrons were fully equipped with the new aircraft. However, after the Germans also used their new fighters, it turned out that the Sopwith Pup were no longer equal. At the beginning of 1917 the Sopwith Pup was replaced by the newer Sopwith Camel. Despite the increasing losses of these aircraft, the Royal Flying Corps kept them on the Western Front until the end of 1917.

After the first planes were withdrawn from the Western Front, the British Ministry of Defence began to set up some squadrons on the island to protect the cities against attacks by German bombers. For this the Royal Flying Corps used the withdrawn Sopwith Pup aircraft and pulled them together in the newly founded 112th and 61st squadrons. To increase the climb speed, the 80 hp Le Rhône engines were replaced by the 100 hp Gnome engines.

Some of the aircraft withdrawn from the western front were used by the Royal Naval Air Service for tests with aircraft carriers. On August 2, 1917, the first landing of an aircraft on a moving ship could be carried out on the HMS Furious. In addition to the aircraft carriers HMS Campania, HMS Furious and HMS Manxman, some Sopwith Pup also served on cruisers and battleships from where they could take off via platforms.


A Sopwith Pup lands on the HMS Furious




Technical data:

Designation: Sopwith Pup
Country: Great Britain
Type: Fighter
Length: 5,9 meters
Span: 8,1 meters
Height: 2,9 meters
Weight: 338 kg empty
Crew: Max. 1
Engine: One Le-Rhone engine with 80 HP (59 kW)
Maximum speed: 171 km/h
Range: Max. 540 kilometres
Arming: 1 x 7,7 mm Vickers machine gun
(Royal Naval Air Service)

1 x 7,7 mm Lewis Machine Gun
(Royal Flying Corps)

4 x 11.3 kg 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.

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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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