Most of us have become familiar with the Sopwith Camel due to the "Peanuts" cartoon by Charles Schulz where Snoopy is flying his dog house doing battle with the Red Baron. It also happens to be the most famous airplane from the Great War, World War 1. It was there and then, in World War 1, that the first air to air aerial combat occurred, and air to air combat remains one of the cornerstones of our defense strategy to this day. That war proved the military usefulness of aircraft in modern warfare, and out of that war came the Sopwith Camel.[caption id="attachment_3072" align="aligncenter" width="627" caption="AM Translucent Sopwith Camel Model"] [/caption]
Both my son and I like to collect airplane models, and we both agree that one of the more interesting ones to collect are Sopwith Camel models. This airplane helped turn the tide during World War I when enough of them were shipped to the Allies to take on the Germans. While very difficult to fly for any but the most experienced pilots, its maneuverability and smooth engine power made it a formidable force for the enemy to reckon with. Because of its short fuselage, and with the engine rotating around a fixed crankshaft, the Camel was a very difficult airplane to fly. Between the sensitivity of the control surfaces and the gyroscopic effect of 9 cylinders rotating around a stationary crankshaft, the airplane required all of a pilots attention and skill to safely operate. On the other hand, these same attributes made it a marvelous fighting machine. During flight training some 385 pilots lost their lives learning to fly or gain experience in the Camel, but those who conquered this little airplane went on to shoot down 1,294 enemy aircraft by the end of the war. The Sopwith Camel got the nickname "Camel" from the hump that holds the twin machine guns. At first the Allies assumed a superiority in numbers would carry the day, but soon enough they realized that well trained pilot more than made up for numbers. First built in 1916, the Sopwith Aviation Company brought this twin-gun marvel into combat as a response to the Fokker Triplane. Intentionally built to be unstable to increase its agility, it was a challenge to control. Only advanced pilots were able to fly this plane, because straight flight required constant adjustment. This handmade wooden model features accurate details of the namesake fuselage, engine, prop, and wheels. Look closely and take in the details of the nine cylinder rotary 150 horsepower engine that powered the plane to a top speed of 115 mph. Silk canvas is stretched over the wooden frame of this model, and you can just imagine the impressive 28 foot wingspan. The smoothly finished wooden propeller shows how this plane could knife through the sky. Authentic decoration and twin mounted guns make this model thrillingly accurate. No wonder Charles Schulz chose this plane for Snoopy to pilot.
Because of its popularity there are many models of this fine aircraft, including large scale and museum quality kits which you can build. Some of these models have incredible detail, and are outstanding pieces to display in home or office. Among the best is the 1:5½ scale replica of the famous World War I fighter made by Authentic Models, a company from the Netherlands that searches the world for interesting historical artifacts and then recreates them. Authentic Models offers several versions of the Sopwith Camel model airplane, one being a translucent Sopwith Camel model which is covered in silk fabric that you can actually see through to discover the incredible detail of this airplane. In addition, they offer another incredibly detailed yellow fabric covered Sopwith Camel airplane model which comes in two sizes, medium and large. Both the large model and the translucent model of the Sopwith Camel have a 50" wingspan, are 40.25" long and stand 18" tall. When hung with fish line they present a visual image of the aircraft flying in pursuit of an enemy aircraft to shoot down. Each Authentic Models Sopwith Camel model comes with a leather trimmed cockpit, fabric covered wings, intricate truss wing wiring, a metal fairing with simulated rivets, a metal faux engine with a rotating wooden propeller, wire wheels, and more. This translucent model has incredible detail which can be seen through the silk fabric covering the frame of the model. Featuring a translucent exterior, this 1:5½ scale replica of the famous World War I fighter is worthy of a museum! A true recreation of the legendary biplane, this Camel features a silk-stretched frame, a leather-trimmed cockpit, fabric-covered wings with visible ribs and intricate rigging, a metal fairing with simulated rivets, a metal faux engine with a rotating wooden propeller, wire wheels, and more. And with its amazing 59" wingspan, the precision details and built-in quality are easy to see! Requires only a few minutes of simple assembly.