It had wicked torque and killed a lot of novice British pilots, but the Sopwith Camel (5,490 produced) shot down more German aircraft (1,294) than any other Allied plane.
Its name derived from the slight hump forward of the cockpit. Its twin 30 caliber Vickers machine guns enabled it to destroy its (by WW2 or modern standards) flimsy opponents.
The Sopwith Camel was produced by Thomas Sophwith and his Sopwith Aviation Company in 1916. Designed by Herbert Smith, the Camel was the first British fighter to be equipped with two fixed synchronized forward Vickers machine guns.
The Camel arrived on the Western Frontin May, 1917 and went into action two months later. The aircraft quickly achieved a reputation as a deadly trench-strafer. With its fixed guns, pointing downwards though the floor of the fuselage, it could rake enemy troops with fire while flying fast and level above their trenches.
The Sopwith Camel was a difficult plane to fly, tending to spin out of control during tight turns, and caused the deaths of many young pilots during their training period. However, the Sopwith Camel, with its great agility and good rate of climb, made it a popular fighter plane with experienced and talented pilots. It has been claimed that the Sopwith Camel was responsible for shooting down 1,294 enemy planes during the war.
Specifications of the F.1 Camel:
1. Engine: 130hp Clerget 9-cylinder rotary engine
2. Max. Speed: 117 MPH at sea level
3. Ceiling: 19,000 feet
4. Climb Rate: 10 minutes to reach 10,000 feet
5. Weight: 929 lb. empty, 1,453 lb. fully loaded
6. Wingspan: 28 feet
7. Length: 18 ft 9 in
8. Height: 8 ft 6 in Wing area: 231 sq ft
9. Guns: Two synchronized .303 inch Vickers machine guns.
The Camel was the first British fighter to mount twin forward-firing machine guns side-by-side.
This natural arrangement that became standard for the RAF.
10. Bombs: Four 20-lb. Cooper bombs