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Sopwith Camel

The most successful fighter of World War 1
Sopwith Came Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith F.1 Camel was a single-seat fighter biplane powered by a rotary engine (various engine types being fitted, the most common being the 130hp Clerget).
It was equipped with two forward-firing synchronised machine guns mounted just ahead of the pilot’s cockpit under a raised fairing, which is said to have inspired the name Camel (initially used as a nickname, but subsequently adopted as the official name of the type).
Sopwith Camel F1 (With Dolphin in flight) Sopwith Camel F1 (With Dolphin in flight)
The type was highly manoeuvrable and popular with its pilots although the combination of the short-coupled aircraft and the rotary engine produced some handling quirks that could catch out inexperienced pilots. The Camel proved to be very successful in aerial dogfights and is said to have achieved more victories in combat than any other single type during the First World War.
The first aircraft was cleared for flight at Brooklands on 22nd December 1916 and flown then, or shortly thereafter. It was utilised extensively by both the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) after it entered service from mid-1917.
The prototype Camel 2F.1 (with a 150 hp Bentley rotary engine) first flew in March 1917 and carried the Serial N5 and it was this variant that was mainly used for naval service. The 2.F1 variant can be distinguished by its use of slim steel centre-section struts, replacing the wooden struts of the F.1 Camel.
Sopwith Camel 2 F.1 Sopwith Camel 2 F.1 at Brooklands in 1917
Sopwith built only around 10% (503) of the total, with Boulton & Paul Ltd (1,625 aircraft) and Ruston, Proctor & Co. Ltd (1,575) the major contractors.
Several other firms built the type, including orders placed with British Caudron (100), Clayton & Shuttleworth (600), Hooper (375), Marsh, Jones & Cribb (175), Nieuport & General (300), Portholme Aerodrome (250).
Camel 2F.1 contracts were placed with William Beardmore (200) and Hooper (30). Not all of these contracts were completed before production was cancelled at the end of the war.
Wide variations can been found in terms of total production numbers. A figure of 5,747 (F.1 and 2F.1 Camel) is often given but a figure of 5,490 is also documented as is 5,695 plus a total of 230 2F.1 of which at least 100 were cancelled.  Therefore, an approximate total would appear to be between 5,490 and 5,900 aircraft and the type was eventually retired in January 1920 after just 3 years service.


Sopwith Camel F.1 Main production variant with a number of different engines
Sopwith Camel 2F.1 Shipboard variant with a slightly shorter wingspan and Bentley BR1 engine - Fitted with an overwing Lewis gun.
Sopwith Camel 'Comic'
Night Fighter
Specifically designed for night-fighter duties with Home Defence Squadrons.  It was fitted with two Lewis guns on a Foster mounting firing over the top of the wing.
Sopwith Camel F.1/1 As F1 but with tapered wings
Sopwith Camel F.F.1 Experimental 'Trench-Fighter' with angled downwards guns for strafing.
Sopwith Camel Trainer Fitted with a second cockpit and with weapons removed.


F.1 Camel
2F.1 Camel
One 130 hp Clerget 9B
One 150 hp Bentley BR1
28 ft 0 in
Maximum Weight
1,453 lb
1,523 lb
Capacity & Armament
Pilot, two forward firing Vickers machine guns. Optionally four 25 lb bombs under fuselage.
Pilot, one Vickers gun firing through propeller, one Lewis gun above upper wing.
Maximum Speed
117 mph
125 mph
2.5 hours


Camel F.1                             
Private owner in New Zealand
F.1 Camel
Roy Museum of the Armed Forces and Military History, Brussels, Belgium
F.1 Camel
Polish Aviation Museum, Kraków, Poland
Camel 2F.1
Imperial War Museum London, UK
Camel 2F.1
N8156 (RAF)
Canadian Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Camel F.1
Javier Arango Collection, Paso Robles, California, USA
Camel F.1
Royal Air Force Museum, Hendon, London, UK
Camel F.1
National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida, USA
There are also a number of replica aircraft on display.

More information

Hawker Association:
Brooklands Museum:
BAE Systems Heritage via:
Please note that the information shown is based on that available at the time of the creation of this web page - If you have any additions or corrections please contact: