The Sopwith Aviation Company was a British aircraft company that designed and manufactured aeroplanes mainly for the British Royal Naval Air Service, the Royal Flying Corps and later the Royal Air Force during the First World War, most famously the Sopwith Camel. Sopwith aircraft were also used in varying numbers by the French, Belgian and American air services during WW1.
The Sopwith Aviation Company, based at Brooklands UK, was formed in June 1912 by Thomas Octave Murdoch (later Sir Thomas) Sopwith, a wealthy sportsman interested in aviation, when he was 24 years old.
In 1916, Herbert Smith became Chief Engineer of the Sopwith company and under his design leadership many successful World War I planes were built.
Experimentally equipped with three narrow-chord wings and a more powerful engine, the design of the Sopwith Pup led to the Triplane, which was used by just four squadrons of the RNAS during 1917, but became well known for its startling fighting qualities.
In the early summer of 1917, the twin-gun Camel fighter was introduced. This aircraft was highly manoeuvrable and well-armed, and over 5,000 were produced up until the end of the War. It destroyed more enemy aircraft than any other British type.
The company produced more than 16,000 aircraft during the First World War.
Many more of the company's aircraft were built by subcontractors rather than by Sopwith themselves. These included Fairey, Clayton and Shuttleworth, William Beardmore and Company and Ruston Proctor.