Sopwith Aviation Co

The Sopwith Aviation Company was founded in 1912 by Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith, already a noted pioneer pilot. A number of the company’s designs, amongst them the Tabloid and the Gun Bus saw service at the start of the First World War, but the 1 ½ Strutter of 1916 was the company's first major success. This was followed by the Pup and then the Sopwith Camel, of which 5,490 were built in the last two years of the war. This was a difficult aircraft, but could be very effective in the right hands, and was the most successful British fighter of the war. The Sopwith Triplane of 1916 was also highly regarded, although was produced in much smaller numbers.

The Camel was followed by the Sopwith Dolphin of 1917, another highly manoeuvrable fighter, and finally by the Sopwith Snipe. This last aircraft entered service in the last few weeks of the First World War, and remained the standard RAF fighter aircraft in the decade after the war. The Sopwith Salamander was a ground-attack aircraft developed from the Snipe, which also just managed to enter service in the last few days of the war. Sopwith also produced the Cuckoo, a purpose built torpedo-bomber which began to be delivered in September 1918.

Sopwith did not survive after the end of the war. A combination of the post-war collapse in aircraft orders and a massive tax bill forced Thomas to close down the company in September 1920.

Although the Sopwith Company had been short-lived, Sopwith himself had a long career in aviation. On 15 November 1920, the former directors of Sopwith and their chief test pilot Harry G. Hawker formed the Hawker Engineering Co Ltd, with Sopwith as Chairman. He would remain active in the aircraft industry into the 1980s, remaining Chairman of Hawker Siddeley until 1963

Major Military Aircraft
Sopwith Tabloid, 1913
Sopwith Gun Bus, 1914
Sopwith Schneider, 1914
Sopwith Baby, 1914
Sopwith 1 ½ Strutter, 1916
Sopwith Pub, 1916
Sopwith Triplane, 1916
Sopwith Camel, 1916
Sopwith Cuckoo, 1917
Sopwith Dolphin, 1917
Sopwith Snipe, 1918
Sopwith Salamander, 1918

Air War Index - Air War Links - Air War Books

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (2 October 2008), Sopwith Aviation Co, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/company_sopwith.html

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us -  Subscribe in a reader - Join our Google Group - Cookies