Monday, October 4, 2010


Here are some images of Roden's 1/48 scale Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter. From Wikipedia "The Sopwith 1½ Strutter was a British one or two-seat biplane multi-role aircraft of the First World War. It is significant as the first British-designed two seater tractor fighter, and the first British aircraft to enter service with a synchronised machine gun. It also saw widespread but rather undistinguished service with the French Aéronautique Militaire.

The prototype two-seater flew in December 1915 and production deliveries started to reach the RNAS in February 1916. By the end of April, No. 5 Wing RNAS had a complete flight equipped with the new aircraft. The Sopwiths were used both for escorting the Wing's Caudron G.4 and Breguet bombers and for carrying out bombing raids themselves.[11][12] The War Office had ordered the type for the RFC in March but because Sopwith's entire production capacity was pre-contracted to the navy, the RFC orders had to be placed with Ruston Proctor and Vickers and production from these manufacturers did not get into its stride until August. Since the Somme offensive was planned for the end of June and with the RFC having a shortage of up-to-date aircraft to support the planned offensive, it was agreed that a number of Sopwiths would be transferred from one service to the other, allowing No. 70 Squadron to reach the front by early July 1916, with Sopwith-built Strutters originally intended for the Navy.

At first No. 70 did very well with their new mounts. The period of German ascendency known as the Fokker scourge was long over and the 1½ Strutter's long range, coupled with its excellent armament for the period, enabled effective offensive patrolling deep into German held territory. Unfortunately, by the time No. 45 Squadron reached the front in October the new Albatros fighters were appearing in the Jagdstaffeln. By January 1917, when No 43 Squadron arrived in France, the type was outclassed as a fighter. While the fitting of a more powerful 130 hp Le Clerget 9B improved performance slightly, this came too late to reverse the situation. It was still a useful long-range reconnaissance aircraft when it could be provided with adequate fighter escort.

Like most early Sopwith types, the 1½ Strutter was very lightly built and its structure did not stand up very well to arduous war service. It was also far too stable to make a good dogfighter. The last front line 1½ Strutters in the RFC were replaced by Camels in late October 1917.

This was by no means the end of the story as far the Sopwith two seater's service was concerned. The type's long range and stability were good qualities for a home defence fighter and it served with three home defence squadrons, No. 37, No. 44 and No. 78 Squadrons. Most of the 1½ Strutters supplied to home defence units had been built as two seaters but many were converted "in the field" to single seaters in order to improve performance. Some of these single seaters were similar to the bomber variant but others were of different type, known (like similarly adapted Sopwith Camels) as the Sopwith Comic. The cockpit was moved back behind the wings and one or two Lewis guns, either mounted on Foster mountings or fixed to fire upwards, outside the arc of the propeller replaced the synchronised Vickers.

The RNAS used most of their 1½ Strutters as bombers (in the Aegean and Macedonia as well as in France) and as shipboard aircraft. In this service it was known as the Ship's Strutter and flew from aircraft carriers and other warships of the Royal Navy.

The RNAS and the RFC (and after April 1918 the RAF) used the type as a trainer after its operational days were over. Like the Pup, it proved a popular personal aircraft for senior officers.

The largest user of the Sopwith was the French Aéronautique Militaire. By October 1916 it was obvious that the pusher Farman and Breguet bombers of the time had become obsolete and pending the appearance of French tractor aircraft the Sopwith was ordered in very large numbers from French manufacturers - in three versions, the SOP. 1A2 (two seater reconnaissance), SOP. 1B2 (two seater bomber) and SOP. 1B1 (single seater bomber). For want of a better alternative the French Sopwiths had to soldier on long after they had become obsolete and were not fully replaced by later types until early 1918. Three Belgian and three American squadrons also flew French-built Sopwiths and some seem to have been supplied to Russia. Surplus French Sopwiths were used by several countries post-war.

Over 100 1½ Strutters were also built in Russia by Duks and Lebedev, supplemented by large numbers delivered directly from Britain and France. The 1½ Strutter remained in large scale use by both the Soviet forces and White Russians during the Russian civil war and Polish-Soviet war. Three were captured during this war and used by the Poles in 1919-1920. Other captured ones were used by Baltic states.

Around 1,500 1½ Strutters were built for the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service and between 4,200 and 4,500 were built in France.

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