Sopwith Snipe

The Sopwith Snipe was a British, single-seater fighter that was used only a few weeks before the end of the war, but proved to be on a par with German fighters.


Development and design:

In April 1917 the development of a successor model to the already successful Sopwith Camel was started under the direction of Herbert Smith, the designer of the Sopwith Aviation Company. The new aircraft was to be somewhat smaller, but with the same engine to make it fast and agile.

In addition, the pilot's seat was raised so that the pilot had a better view.

Since there was no official order for such a development from the British Ministry of Defence, the first two prototypes were classified as civil aircraft and construction began in September 1917. The first prototype was completed in October and received a Bentley AR.1 rotary engine. The second prototype, completed in November, was equipped with the powerful 230 hp Bentley BR.2 engine. This increase in performance subsequently gave the company an official contract from the Ministry of Defence to build 4 more aircraft.

The third prototype had some modifications on the wings. These were now wider in the middle and had a smaller recess for the pilot, which hardly impaired his visibility. The fuselage was now, not as in the two prototypes before, built box-shaped, but got a round shape, also the tail was reduced in size. In December the aircraft was successfully tested and presented. A comparison with the Austin Osprey Triplane and the Nieuport B.N.1 showed hardly any improvements, but afterwards in March 1918 an order of 1.700 aircraft was received, later the order was increased to 4.500.


Sopwith Snipe


Sopwith Snipe




Use in the First World War:

On 30 August 1918, the 43rd squadron in the French Fienvillers received the first 15 Sopwith Snipe, replacing Sopwith Camel aircraft. Training flights were completed until mid-September, before the first missions were flown over the western front on 24 September.

In October, the 4th squadron of the Australian Air Force also received the first Sopwith Snipe aircraft. Especially at the end of October the squadron was able to achieve great success with the new aircraft.

The 208th squadron was also equipped with the Sopwith Snipe aircraft. Due to the armistice they were not used any more.

Until the end of 1918 about 500 airplanes were built. After the war most of them remained in the Royal Air Force, which was founded shortly before, where they remained in service until 1926. The Canadian Air Force was also equipped with these aircraft and kept them until 1923.




Technical data:

Designation: Sopwith Snipe
Country: Great Britain
Type: Fighter
Length: 5,84 meters
Span: 9,47 meters
Height: 2,9 meters
Weight: 590 kg empty
Crew: Max. 1
Engine: One Bentley BR.2 rotary engine with 230 hp (171 kW)
Maximum speed: 195 km/h
Range: Max. 3 hours
Arming: 2 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.

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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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Dolphin and Snipe Aces of World War 1 (Aircraft of the Aces)

Dolphin and Snipe Aces of World War 1 (Aircraft of the Aces) Paperback – May 12, 2002

This book focuses on the combat careers of the last of the famous Sopwith fighters to enter service during World War 1, the Dolphin and the Snipe, both of which were built on the strong scouting heritage of the Pup and Camel. The Dolphin featured the unique negative-staggered biplane wing arrangement, which provided the pilot with the best possible tactical view forward for seeking out his enemy. Used extensively on the Western Front, the Dolphin proved very effective in combat, with a substantial number of British aces scoring kills with the fighter. The Snipe was built as the successor of the highly successful Camel, and entered service with the fledgling Royal Air Force in the summer of 1918. Although seeing just a few months of action before the Armistice, the Snipe nevertheless proved its superiority over virtually all other fighters.

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