The Most Famous Flying Machine of WWI – Sopwith Camel
As a single-seater scout, the Sopwith Camel is probably the most famous machine of the period, destroying more enemy aircraft than any other single type during the Great War. Amazingly maneuverable and a deadly weapon in the hands of a skilled pilot well versed in its’ eccentricities, it was also the undoing of many a ‘rookie’ pilot. Novices regarded the Camel with horror, as such an alarming number of pupils were killed during their first flight in the machine.
Often referred to as “a fierce little rasper”, the Camel spun quickly, had extremely sensitive elevator control and was very fast on left-hand turns, owing to the gyroscopic force produced by the rotary engine in combination with its’ short fuselage. Arriving on the Western Front in July 1917, the Camel was used in gradually increasing intensity on offensive patrols, escort work and ground strafing. From this period to the end of the war, RFC Camels alone destroyed nine hundred and eight enemy aircraft.
The Sopwith Camel is easily identified by converging wingtips and the distinctive “hump” over the twin Vickers machine-guns from whence it derives it’s name.