Talk:Sopwith Camel

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Design & Development[edit]

"Unlike the Sopwith Triplane, the Camel lacked a variable incidence tailplane, so that the pilot had to apply constant forward pressure on the control stick to maintain a level attitude at low altitude."

Does that refer to trim? If so (or even if not) could this be clarified to explain what is meant?

"A stall immediately resulted in a particularly dangerous spin."

Is this a fact 100% of the time? It sounds dubious but if true should be emphasized more clearly.

- (talk) 20:14, 9 June 2014 (UTC) (AbstractClass - I'm locked out of my account, my email changed and lost password...if you can help post on my talk page)

Blipped throttle[edit]

What is a "blipped" throttle? Bastie 10:10, 5 September 2005 (UTC)

I have added an explanation in the text. Ian Dunster 22:15, 10 November 2005 (UTC)
Aha, thanks. I did a bit of digging and also found this:
The way the pilot controls the engine speed is with a blip switch located on top of the control stick. By holding the switch down with his thumb, the magneto is grounded, which shuts electricity off to the spark plugs. This effectively, kills the engine. When the blip switch is released by taking the thumb off the switch, the spark plugs begin to fire again and the engine roars to life. By blipping the switch on (thumb up) and off (thumb down), the pilot can control the speed of the engine for operation on the ground and to slow down for landing. If you watch any old World War I films, you can hear the sound of the engine going . . . Brrrappp! . . . Brrrappp! . . . Brrrappp!. . . when the aircraft comes in to land.
Bastie 04:51, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
May also be because the Camel didn't have a carb (or so I've heard...) Snoopyson 09:36, 16 December 2006 (UTC)

This may be a bit late as the carb comment is 2 years old, but I'm sure the Camel must have had a carburettor, I don't think any WW1 aircraft had fuel injection! Even the Spitfire and Hurricane in WW2 had carburettors which is why you always see them "peel off" and wing-over into a dive. The German fighters of WW2 (such as the Messerschmidt Bf109e) did have fuel injection but for some reason we British didn't bother with it to start with. (talk) 14:18, 3 December 2008 (UTC) Chris

As you say, Chris, this is a very old one! Rotary engines (look up the article on them) as fitted to the Sopwith Camel and other types, had a very primitive carburetor that did not lend itself to throttle movements, if you throttled back you needed to fiddle the "choke" (fuel/air mixture control) to match and if you got it even slightly wrong you stalled the engine - close to the ground of course you had problems starting it again before you lost control and crashed. Most pilots just ran their engines flat out for the whole flight, and blipped in on landing so as to have power availalble if they needed to abort the landing and get off again. There was an even more primitive species of rotary engine (the "mono") that didn't have a throttle at all - it just ran flat out unless you cut some of the cylinders with a special switch designed for the purpose. If you got this wrong the front of your aeroplane filled with unburned fuel and the probably exploded. Fun and games! --Soundofmusicals (talk) 16:49, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
If you let a WW I-era aeroplane's engine stop then there is no way of getting it going again in the air, as there is not enough slipstream to turn the engine over, and the aeroplane is too draggy to reach sufficient speed in a dive. So once the engine stops, that's it, you go down. That's why an un-powered landing is called a 'dead stick' one, because the propeller is sticking up in front 'like a dead stick'. The alternative explanation for the term is the mushiness felt in the control column when the slipstream from the propeller stops.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 10:54, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

No way of getting it started again? Yet somehow they managed it as a regular routine - read some of the many acounts of people who were there. The engine would stop due to fuel starvation, so you switched over to your gravity tank, let your prop kick the engine over, and all being well it would re-start. Of course engines DID sometimes stall and couldn't be started again, for all kinds of reason, but not because their propellers didn't turn fast enough in the "slipstream" to turn the engines over. A WWI era aeroplane could be dived fast enough to rip its wings off - certainly fast enough to kick the engine over. As for "deadstick" - less a "general mushiness", just an aeroplane without a working engine (and of course this remains true today) can only maintain flying speed by diving or gliding down, pulling back on the stick reduces airspeed (in the case of an early aeroplane very rapidy) causing a stall (not an engine stall, but a loss of lift in the wings to the point you basically just drop out of the sky). --Soundofmusicals (talk) 21:23, 30 December 2012 (UTC)

even better... we should talk a bit about the classic game...[edit]

...sopwith. i think one can still download it for the pc.

It has an own article, Sopwith (video game). I think it belongs to the "Notable appearances in media" section. (talk) 01:22, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Link Edit[edit]

Link to 'Le Rhone' points to the river rather than to the engine manufacturer. Is there a dedicated page for 'Le Rhone'?

It's Gnome et Rhône, I fixed it. Emt147 Burninate! 04:07, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

I read in a Wikipedia article about the Sopwith Snipe that major Barker scored at least 4 kills in a Snipe. Here it is said that he only scored in a Camel. What is it?

His final battle was in a Snipe but his main weapon was the Camel. Bzuk 01:47, 12 April 2007 (UTC).
On 27 October, 1918, Barker in his Sopwith Snipe fought 60 Fokker D VII's alone, shooting down four airplanes that day (including a Rumpler 2-seater), then crash landing himself after being severely wounded and his aircraft having been hit hundreds of times. With the exception of Mannock's kills of the Aviatik Training flight in 1917, Barker's feat of downing 4 aircraft in 40 minutes was the highest score in the shortest time of any aerial dogfight in WWI. (talk) 18:10, 5 March 2011 (UTC)
" With the exception of Mannock's kills of the Aviatik Training flight in 1917, Barker's feat of downing 4 aircraft in 40 minutes was the highest score in the shortest time of any aerial dogfight in WWI." Wow, you don't seem to even want to hide your POV, at least. First, as for Billy Bishop adventures, we will never know how many of those credited "kills" were actually true kills because of British somewhat laxist crediting system. So comparing numbers between countries is an unscientific procedure. To the maximum extent you could say Barker had the best score of the RAF, but way not of " any aerial dogfight in WWI" since every country credited kills differently.
Second, World War I flying ace Fritz Otto Bernert scored five victories within 20 minutes on April 24, 1917. So no, Barker's feat of downing 4 aircraft in 40 minutes was NOT the highest score in the shortest time of any aerial dogfight in WWI, nor was Mannock. (talk) 20:24, 14 May 2011 (UTC)

Additional Details[edit]

In the course of researching another topic, I've come across some info which I think can be incorporated into the 'Camel' article. I hope to add some stuff in, as and when; maybe I could tinker a bit with some of the structure, as well? That's unless I'm treading on any toes here. Scoop100 14:51, 20 April 2007 (UTC)


This section is fancruft and mainly trivial in nature. Anyone object to it being reduced in size, scope or perhaps being "snipped" entirely? Bzuk 01:47, 12 April 2007 (UTC).

Very happy to see it disappeared completely. Scoop100 14:50, 20 April 2007 (UTC)
As there haven't been any adverse comments in the last 8 months regarding these proposed actions, this section has been duly trimmed. Scoop100 (talk) 22:18, 8 January 2008 (UTC)
This section seems to be growing again - time for another purge of non-notable items?Nigel Ish (talk) 21:56, 3 June 2008 (UTC)
Agree MilborneOne (talk) 22:02, 3 June 2008 (UTC)

Flying Qualities[edit]

PC Games... Expurgate. Castrate.  ; Moving on to reality & facts; The article on the Camel is innacurate and misrepresentative of what was factually the Great Wars best fighter. All this talk about the handling characteristics is utter tripe. The Camel was DESIGNED to be inherrently unstable. It's primary mass was not all concentrated around the CG for nothing..! Sopwiths knew EXACTLY what they were doing, and used their experience with Rotatary engines to exploit the torque-effect of the engine and large heavy airscrew. Power-off it was a pussy-cat. Power-on it could turn and kill in a flash. Exactly what was required of a dogfighting fighter of the time. (Not that much has changed either.) The 'bad' reputation has it's origins and perpetuation in pure ignorance and hearsay. At the time, young, very inexperienced pilots who moved onto the type, who might have been well versed with handling a Rotary engine,( An arcane art to any modern pilot!)perhaps on an Avro 504 or Sopwith Pup, were unable to avail themselves of suitable dual-control machine. All of the experienced pilots loved and admired the machine, although one highly experience pilot at the CFS wrote describing the flight characteristics of the Camel after the Great War ' was a fierce little beastie'. That was it's intent. It was a killing machine. Students heard stories and the scuttlebutt got around. Some of that has survived.

The drivel about the Camels' flying qualities needs removing or correcting. It's absolute tosh. 00:33, 21 May 2007 (UTC)

no redirect?[edit]

I did a wikipedia search for "Sopwith Camel" and not only did it not point to this page, it wasn't even in the search results!

Anyone else having the same problem? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Erroramong (talkcontribs) 05:52, 17 April 2009 (UTC)

No - Sopwith Camel in the search box on the left works and takes you to this article. MilborneOne (talk) 09:56, 17 April 2009 (UTC)


Why did the Sopwith Camel have targets painted on the undersides of its wings? -- (talk) 03:10, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

This article should explain. MilborneOne (talk) 09:02, 10 May 2009 (UTC)

Better choice of photo at top of infobox ?[edit]

The photo at the top of the infobox shows a model with 2 Lewis guns over the top wing, and no caption. According to the IWM blurb attached to the image at Commons, it's a Naval 2F1 version. Shouldn't the main photo be of the standard (i.e. most common - the Western Front dogfighter) version with 2 Vickers guns above the engine cowling ? The current photo is not really representative, and without a caption is in fact misleading. Also, the article states the 2F1 had "One Vickers gun replaced by an overwing Lewis gun". ?? Rod. Rcbutcher (talk) 12:41, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

I have changed the caption to show it is a 2F1, it may be a Naval Camel but it an original aircaft notable as a Zepplin killer, which is why it was preserved. The article is about both versions does it matter which is in the infobox. MilborneOne (talk) 14:18, 27 September 2009 (UTC)
It is a 2F1 - and there IS only one Lewis gun - unless you are seeing double?? I tend to agree that a really nice photo of an F1 might be even nicer - if only as being more "typical". Perhaps the current infobox pikkie could go down to the "survivors" section?--Soundofmusicals (talk) 22:31, 27 September 2009 (UTC)
Display the photo at full size and you will clearly see 2 ammo drums and 2 barrels. Rod. I do think the photo has value on the page as representing a surviving example. But the F1 was the model that actually contributed to winning the war. Rcbutcher (talk) 05:17, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
When I come to "really" look at it, there ARE actually two Lewis guns jammed up into a most unreasonable space - the real 2F1 had a single gun in that position - the frail little "Admiralty over wing mounting" could never have taken two guns - in fact I doubt if they could have fired together in that position anyway, the drums would have fouled each other! So the aircraft in the display - at least its armament, has been stupidly cobbled up by someone with no idea whatever. Sad. The only Camels to carry two Lewis guns on the top wing in "real life" were the home defence examples that had the cockpit moved back and double Foster mountings. The F1 is certainly the "common" model anyway, and I agree there is a case for a nice picture of one of them to be there instead. I would prefer a photo taken in 1917 or 1918 - which would necessarily be in black and white of course. Most of our WW1 aircraft articles have such pictures - while nice modern coloured ones are all very well they don't quite have the same ambience. As I said - move the current picture to the "survivors" section. Or delete it altogether - since one of those Lewis guns (if there really ARE Lewis guns) shouldn't be there! It is really not encyclopediac. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 09:57, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
I dont have any real objection to moving N6812 down to survivors if a decent contempary F1 image could be found for the infobox. Whatever its condition N6812 is still notable and extant MilborneOne (talk) 12:24, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Ive raised the question of the authenticity of the guns as located on the IWM machine N6812 at the Great War Forum : . I would expect somebody there to have the answer. Rod. Rcbutcher (talk) 15:17, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
According to JM Bruce in War Planes of the First World War: Volume Two (p161), Culley's Camel (i.e. the example at the IWM) DID have twin overwing Lewis's - in a non-standard, fixed installation that could not be reloaded in flight ,together with a quick release catch on the undercarriage axle. There is a contemporary photo of the aircraft on p159, showing this armament. The reasons for this are not clear, possibly either to lower weight or because Vickers guns could not be used to fire incendiary bullets.) It should be noted that while one Lewis and one Vickers was the normal armament, it was not the only armament tried - there is also a photo of a Ship's Camel with twin Vickers uns.Nigel Ish (talk) 17:09, 28 September 2009 (UTC)
Here's an alternative contemporary photograph available as public domain from the RAF Museum: Sopwith Camel. FWiW, please keep the museum example in the article, but consider trimming one of the two very similar images. Bzuk (talk) 17:15, 28 September 2009 (UTC).

'Tis done! Note that I have left the two very similar images of the same camel higher up the page - and put the old infobox image in the "variants" section. Vickers guns (and the very similar German "Spandaus") fired thousands and thousands of incendiary and explosive bullets through prop arcs - it was normal practice in fact - you couldn't shoot down a balloon (for instance) any other way. Pilots still didn't like doing it very much - as if and when the synchronisation gear failed (as they did now and then) the result could be a bit messy. Incidentally, I still think those Lewis guns are too close to be authentic, although it may be a trick of perspective! --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:32, 28 September 2009 (UTC)

List of survivors[edit]

Why does the list of survivors section incite people to convert it from list format to prose? A list is a much clearer way of presenting this information. A list is exactly what it is and should be.

Lists were considered trivia lists and were actively discouraged, although it often makes sense in an aircraft article. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:38, 6 October 2009 (UTC).
Checking back to when the tags were "sprinkled", it all came down to an editor happening upon the article, making a number of arbitrary changes in the name of NPOV and MOS and it has meant a wholesale rewrite to put back the sense of the article. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 12:45, 6 October 2009 (UTC).

Gyroscopic Inertia of Rotary Engine[edit]

I think a little explanation of the gyroscopic effects of the rotary engine is needed to explain how the Sopwith Camel could make those devastating whip-turns to the right, and why half the fatalities in the Camel occurred on takeoff or landing. The rotary engine, when on, was just a large gyroscope. However, when you push a gyroscope in one direction, it actually moves 90 degrees in a different direction (remember science class?). Hence, pilots attempting to manouvre the aircraft had to take this into account, otherwise the airplane would go 90 degrees in an unintended direction and crash. As the article states, turning to the right, the plane would go down; turning to the left the plane would go up. The gyroscopic inertia (coupled with the weight being massed toward the front) enabled the Camel to make whip-turns to the right, allowing it to outmanouvre other airplanes by turning inside their turns. (talk) 18:25, 5 March 2011 (UTC)

Reason for name[edit]

In Jon Guttmann, [i]The origin of the fighter aircraft[/i], 2009, Westholme Publishing, he quotes the name Camel coming from a test pilot saying "Just to look at the beast gives me the hump at the thought of flying it", and references the remark as recorded by RFC technical officer Harry Tizard, adding to the reasons (along with the fairing block) for the name. Bendel boy (talk) 08:29, 7 July 2011 (UTC)

I have always had a sneaking suspicion that the origin of the "Camel" name might have had something to do with the type's wilfulness! The "hump" over the gun breeches was mentioned by a number of people at the time and since, but it seems otherwise highly unlikely. You look at pictures of Camels (it was one of the most-photographed aircraft of the war) - just where IS this famous "hump"? Is it really characteristic enough to have "named" the type? Unfortunately I think this (against so many contemporary sources) must be speculation. If the only source we can get is as late as 2009 - then I do have to remark that many recent sources in this field speculate like hell - there now being no genuine living people of the period to contradict them. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 11:37, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
On the other hand, I am HIGHLY suspicious of our friend, since I have already caught him using Wikipedia (one of the articles I wrote) and the fact that the "hump" is noticeable, was mentioned in contemporary journals and is not an urban myth. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 11:42, 7 July 2011 (UTC).
Keeping out of any ad hominem argument, I agree of course about the wealth of contemporary evidence - which is why I said that any alternative must be wild speculation. I don't think anyone is talking about "urban myths" in this context? On the other hand, camels were stubborn self-willed little aeroplanes, and the camel is a notoriously stubborn and self-willed animal. I suppose the noticability of the so-called "hump" is in the eye of the beholder. But we are actually on the same side in this one, Buzzy, if from a slightly different angle. It would certainly be OR to suggest that anything but the fairing over the gun breeches had anything to do with the name without a good contemporary source. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 22:17, 7 July 2011 (UTC)
A 1979 interview with T.O.M. Sopwith here: [1] "Why was it called the Camel? Because it had a hump!" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:08, 12 February 2014 (UTC)

Camel as a "ground-attack" aircraft[edit]

All RFC/RAF single seater "scouts" were used as "trench straffers" during both British and German offensives - the Camel certainly being no exception. This was certainly not confined to "near the end of the conflict". The "germ of truth" in the last sentence of the lead is that this was a duty that tended to go especially to obsolete types and that the Camel WAS obsolete by the end of the war - comparing poorly with the Fokker D.VII and other late war German types. Any way to put all this into one clear, neat, succinct and NPOV sentence? --Soundofmusicals (talk) 23:12, 15 September 2011 (UTC)

Large scale, organised use of single-seat fighters for strafing by the RFC seems to have started at the Battle of Amiens in August 1917, when DH.5s were used, with Camels being used at the Battle of Cambrai in November that year. Losses of both types were very high - an average of 30% attrition per day of operations on close support missions - see Sopwith Salamander for references.Nigel Ish (talk) 17:40, 23 February 2012 (UTC)

Change to reference format[edit]

Why has the reference and citation format for this article been completely changed? This change has made the citations much less clear and has completely mangled the references to the J. M. Bruce Flight articles. Please provide some justification to these changes, which appear to go against WP:RETAIN.Nigel Ish (talk) 07:27, 16 June 2012 (UTC)

Same Anon has been about in other articles, changing to suit his/her style. Moved back. FWiW Bzuk (talk) 13:24, 16 June 2012 (UTC).
The ip has reverted, reinstating all the sfn and citation templates - I've left a note on their talk page.Hopefully they will self revert and discuss it here.Nigel Ish (talk) 08:54, 17 June 2012 (UTC)
I reverted the change before I saw this discussion but the IPs have been challenged a few times so they still needs to gain a consensus for the changes. MilborneOne (talk) 10:45, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

Wing span[edit]

I changed the wing span back to 28 ft 0 in after checking with the cited reference (i.e. Quest for Performance) and other sources. It was changed to 26 ft 11 in (which is the correct value for the 2F1 Ships Camel here in 2006, and was not spotted.Nigel Ish (talk) 18:14, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

LEGO Sopwith Camel[edit]

I don't know, maybe I'm wrong, but I think that under, "Notable appearances in media," it should be mentioned that there have been three LEGO incarnations of this plane, the 10226 Sopwith Camel, released in September 2012, the 3451 Sopwith Camel in 2001, and the 40049 Mini Sopwith Camel, also released in September of 2012. 10226 also had moving wing flaps connected to a joystick that moved like the real thing. --ThePlaneFan (talk) 23:02, 15 February 2013 (UTC)ThePlaneFan

I dont think models and toys based on the aircraft are notable enough to mention. MilborneOne (talk) 15:55, 16 February 2013 (UTC)
Actually they may be very eligible for inclusion in an article about LEGO - but not in this article. Would any other LEGO models be "notable" in a discussion of the real thing? Think about it. --Soundofmusicals (talk) 20:58, 9 June 2014 (UTC)