We turn now to the premier fighter on the Western Powers side in Battlefield 1: The Sopwith Camel.
Perhaps most famous as the mount of choice for Snoopy, and for its fearsome reputation as being difficult to handle, the Sopwith Camel entered combat in 1917, and Camel pilots were credited with shooting down 1,294 enemy aircraft, the most of all Allied fighter types.
|Cover from mycomicshop.com|
The name “Camel” derived from the hump in front of the cockpit where the twin Vickers machine guns were located. Over the course of its service, the Camel was adapted also to the roles of carrier operations, night fighter (where it was sometimes known as the Comic), ground attack, and trainer (as a two-seat variant).
Attributed lore holds that the Le Rhone rotary engine contributed such fearsome gyroscopic forces that Camel pilots found it faster to make a 270 degree left turn than a 90 degree right turn. While modern tests with authentic reproductions have disproven that bit of lore, the same tests proved that the Camel was noticeably faster to turn left than right. Just not three times faster.
|Photo credit, AirSpaceMag|
The Camel also enjoyed a fairly relaxed sense of stability, a characteristic now taken to maximum effect in modern fly-by-wire fighters. While slipping and skidding across the sky made the aircraft a more difficult gun platform than other craft such as the S.E.5A, it also benefited pilots by making it more difficult for enemy pilots to get a bead on them.
Two original Camels are known to be in flyable condition. One is in New Zealand, while the other is part of the Javier Arango Collection in Paso Robles, California. A number of reproductions have also been built over the years, to various standards of accuracy. The most historically accurate use period correct tooling and techniques in their construction, and are powered by original or replica rotary engines. Others, such as the replica kit offered by Airdrome Aeroplanes, provide an authentic appearance, but utilize modern construction and engines to provide a good looking aircraft that is both better behaved and safer than the original.
This is part of the occasional History for Gamers series that appears on this blog. Find previous installments on the sidebar.