Sopwith Baby

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Sopwith Baby WW1 aircraft.jpg
Sopwith Baby in use with the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service
Role Single-seat scout and bomber biplane seaplane
Manufacturer Sopwith Aviation Company
First flight September 1915[1]
Introduction 1915
Status retired
Primary users Royal Naval Air Service
Aviazione della Regia Marina
Number built 386[note 1]
Developed from Sopwith Schneider
Variants Fairey Hamble Baby

The Sopwith Baby was a British single-seat tractor seaplane used by the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) from 1915.

Development and design[edit]

The Baby (also known as the Admiralty 8200 Type) was a development of the two-seat Sopwith Schneider. Although the Schneider had won the Schneider trophy in 1914, the RNAS did not place a formal order until January 1915. Sopwith's initial production version of the Baby differed little from the Schneider Trophy winner.[2]

The Baby utilized a wooden structure with fabric covering. A Lewis Gun was fitted, either above the fuselage firing through the propeller arc without the benefit of synchronization, or over the top wing, firing above it.[3] To meet the more demanding conditions of 1916–18, Further modifications were made on aircraft built by Blackburn Aircraft at Leeds, United Kingdom. A modified variant of the Baby, the Fairey Hamble Baby was built by Fairey and Parnall.

The Royal Naval Air Service ordered 286 Sopwith Babies of which 100 were built by Sopwith at Kingston and 186 by Blackburn Aircraft at Leeds with others for export. License manufacture was also undertaken in Italy by SA Aeronautica Gio Ansaldo of Turin, who built 100 examples for the Italian Aviazione della Regia Marina.[4]

Operational history[edit]

The Baby was used as a shipborne reconnaissance and bomber aircraft operating from seaplane carriers and cruisers, as well as naval trawlers and minelayers. Many Babies were attached to RNAS coastal air stations located in England and Scotland and RNAS stations in Egypt, Greece and Italy.[5]

A major role of the Baby was to intercept German Zeppelin raids as far from Britain as possible, along with tracking German naval movements.

Babies saw service with the United States, France, Chile, Greece and Norway. In Norway additional Babies were built as replacements, with some seeing service until 1930. Two of the 10 Sopwith Baby floatplanes that were acquired by the Royal Norwegian Navy Air Service were brought to Svalbard in the summer of 1928 to participate in the search for the lost Norwegian polar explorer Roald Amundsen, but were not used for the search.

Surviving aircraft[edit]

Composite Baby with original parts displayed at the Fleet Air Arm Museum

The original components of two Babies built by Sopwith, Nos. 8214 and 8215, have been utilized to complete a composite aircraft for display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset. The exhibit has been marked with the serial N-2078, which was a Blackburn-built aircraft, and has been named Jabberwock.[6]


 Kingdom of Italy
Aviazione della Regia Marina 102 examples from 1917–1923 (including 2 trials aircraft from the UK)[11]
Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service operated 1 example from 1916[12]
 United Kingdom
 United States


Sopwith Baby drawing (shown on beaching gear)

Data from Holmes, 2005. p 44.

General characteristics

  • Crew: one
  • Length: 23 ft 0 in (7.01 m)
  • Wingspan: 25 ft 8 in (7.82 m)
  • Height: 10 ft 0 in (3.05 m)
  • Wing area: 240 ft² (22.30 m²)
  • Empty weight: 1,226 lb (557 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 1,715 lb (779 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Clerget rotary engine, driving a two blade wooden propeller, 110 hp (82 kW)



See also[edit]

Related development

Related lists



  1. ^ 100 by Sopwith, 186 by Blackburn and 100 by Ansaldo


  1. ^ Holmes, 2005. p 44.
  2. ^ Lamberton, 1960. p 58.
  3. ^ Woodman 1989, p. 173
  4. ^ Alegi, 2001, pp.3–4
  5. ^ Thetford, 1878, p. 291
  6. ^ Ellis, 1977, p. 48
  7. ^ World Air Forces – Australia Archived 25 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. accessdate: March 2014
  8. ^ Huertas Air International February 1984, pp. 73–74.
  9. ^ World Air Forces – France Archived 25 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. accessdate: March 2014
  10. ^ World Air Forces – Greece Archived 25 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. accessdate: March 2014
  11. ^ Alegi, 2001, pp.2–4 & 8
  12. ^ World Air Forces – Japan Archived 17 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine. accessdate: March 2014
  13. ^ World Air Forces – Netherlands Archived 25 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. accessdate: March 2014
  14. ^ World Air Forces – Norway Archived 25 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine. accessdate: March 2014


  • Alegi, Gregory (2001). Ansaldo Baby. Windsock Mini Datafile 15. Hertfordshire, UK: Albatros Publications. ISBN 978-1902207308. 
  • Bruce, J.M. (1996). Sopwith Baby. Windsock Datafile 60. Hertfordshire, UK: Albatros Publications. ISBN 978-0948414794. 
  • Ellis, Ken (1977). British Museum Aircraft. Liverpool: Merseyside Aviation Society. ISBN 0-902420-15-1. 
  • Holmes, Tony (2005). Jane's Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide. London: Harper Collins. p. 44. ISBN 0-00-719292-4. 
  • Huertas, Salvador Mafé (February 1984). "The Chilean Air air arm with a problem". Air International. Vol. 26 no. 2. pp. 69–74, 91, 98–101. ISSN 0306-5634. 
  • Lamberton, W.M. (1960). Fighter Aircraft of the 1914–1918 War. Herts, UK: Harleyford Publications. 
  • Thetford, Owen (1978). British Naval Aircraft since 1912. Putnam and Company Limited. ISBN 0-370-30021-1. 
  • Woodman, Harry (1989). Early Aircraft Armament. London: Arms and Armour. ISBN 0-85368-990-3.