Sopwith Camel - Cockpit and Instruments
The cockpit of the Camel was so small that the rear ends of the Vickers guns were alarmingly close to the pilot's face. Therefore some pilots had padding fitted to the
Basswood has been used for the panel. The instruments are mounted on wooden rings, because the ammo boxes are very close against the back of the instrument panel.
Sopwith Camel - Cockpit and Instruments - Details
Compass - top center of panel sits the
Creagh-Osborne Type 5/17 Air Compass.
Liquid compasses were adapted for aircraft. In 1909, Captain F.O. Creagh-Osborne, Superintendent of Compasses at the British Admiralty, introduced his
Creagh-Osborne aircraft compass.
The compass was filled with a mixture of alcohol and distilled water to damp the movement of the pan-shaped compass card.
Air Speed Indicator
top - right side of the compass.
top - left of the compass.
left - near bottom (inverted tube-like item).
bottom, beside copper descriptor plates.
Below the compass mounted on metal brackets.
Panel center below the inclinometer.
Below the Air Speed Indicator gauge.
Air Pressure Gauge
Far right, above the Pressure relief valve.
Pressure Relief Valve
Below the Air Pressure Gauge. To adjust the Main tank air pressure.
Left of the ignition switches. Indicating the working lubrication system.
The fuel level Gauge
The Vertical glass tube on the bottom left indicated the amount of fuel.
A simple, but reliable instrument.
Tampier Throttle Quadrant
The throttle quadrant assembly contains the Throttle lever, the Mixture control lever and the Fuel filter.
As shown in the animation, mixture control is provided by the mixture control lever which operates the regulator plunger through the control bell-crank.
The regulator plunger contains the regulator needle, allowing for fine adjustment of petrol flow through the regulator. The petrol passes through a
fine #30 mesh filter at the bottom of the body. The tapered needle position determines the amount of petrol that
will be supplied from the selected petrol tank through the output connection pipe to the carburetor.
Note the Gravity/Main tank Selector switch on the left of the pilot's seat
The Camel's construction was based on the construction of its predecessor, the Sopwith Pup. Taking into account that a new larger and heavier engine would have to be mounted,
Sopwith's chief designer Herbert Smith decided to make alterations to the previous design.
It was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter introduced on the Western Front in 1917. Manufactured by Sopwith Aviation Company, it had a short-coupled
fuselage, heavy, powerful rotary engine, and concentrated fire from twin synchronized machine guns.
Though difficult to handle, to an experienced pilot it provided unmatched maneuverability. A
superlative fighter, the Camel was credited with shooting down 1,294 enemy aircraft, more than any other Allied fighter of the war. It also served as a ground-attack aircraft, especially near
the end of the conflict, when it was outclassed in the air-to-air role by newer fighters.
The fuselage had a rounded top conventional wire braced wooden frame, typical of the period. Aluminum panels covered the first bay behind the engine, and plywood was installed
to the end of the cockpit, with the remainder of the fuselage covered in fabric.
With the engine, guns, pilot, cockpit and fuel all concentrated in a length of seven feet, this became one of
the main contributing factors of the Camel's excellent maneuverability. For the pilot, a small windscreen was fitted behind the guns. The landing gear had short steel tube vees with a split
axle, with rather large wheels.
The first aircraft trials were performed by the British No.60 squadron in March of 1917, followed by a series of minor improvements to the plane’s construction. The
Sopwith Camel was delivered to fighter squadrons in May 1917. Camel pilots mentioned the well-balanced plane controls, the good pilot’s upward view and the
high cruising speed. Due to the aircraft's unique balance, the plane could almost instantly change its heading: which made the Sopwith a dangerous opponent. The typical combat scenario for the
Camel pilot was a dogfight at low and mid altitudes, where the Camel had the advantage in steep turns. Veterans used to say “Once you become a Camel pilot, you will fly it forever”.
Besides British pilots, this plane was also piloted by four American squadrons of the US Air Service, and by some Belgian pilots. The Sopwith Camel took part in battles over both the Western
and the Eastern fronts; in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Palestine, Macedonia and Italy.
There are only seven authentic Sopwith Camels preserved ....
Don't forget to watch the video of
The Last Flying Sopwith Camel
Europe's only remaining (flying) Sopwith Camel which came to Stow Maries.