Sopwith F.1 Camel

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Display Status:

This object is on display in the Pre-1920 Aviation exhibition at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

The Sopwith Camel is among the most significant and famous of all WWI aircraft. Camels downed 1,294 enemy aircraft, more than any other Allied fighter in WWI. The cowling over the two Vickers machine guns ahead of the cockpit created a distinctive “hump,” making the name Camel a natural choice, although it was never an official military designation.

Unlike the earlier Sopwith Pup and Sopwith Triplane, which were docile to fly and well-liked by pilots, the Camel was unstable, requiring constant input from the pilot. The gyroscopic effects of its powerful rotary engine made it dangerous for novice pilots, and almost as many were killed in accidents as died in combat. But its instability also contributed to it being agile and maneuverable, and once its tricky characteristics were mastered, the Camel was a superior fighting airplane.

The Camel entered operational service in July 1917 and remained a front-line fighter until the end of the war, with approximately 5,490 built. This example, B6291, served with No. 10 Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service.

Collection Item Long Description:

Inventory Number

A20170105000

Physical Description

Single engine, single-seat, WWI biplane fighter, with 130 hp Clerget 9B rotary.

Credit Line

Gifted to the Smithsonian by the Arango Family with gratitude and appreciation.

Materials

Airframe: wood, fabric covered

Dimensions

  • Wingspan: 28 feet (8.5 m)
  • Length: 18 feet 9 inches (5.7 m)
  • Height: 8 feet 6 inches (2.6m)

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum

Type

CRAFT-Aircraft