Royal Naval Air Service Biplanes
Scout, Pup, Triplane, Camel and DH4

 

In no particular order - Biplane aircraft of the Royal Naval Air Service and Fleet Air Arm of the RAF, 1914-1918.

Click on the thumbnail to go directly to the aircraft model, or simply scroll down

Sopwith PupSopwith TriplaneSopwith Camel F1Sopwith Came 2F1DeHavilland Airco DH.4

British & Colonial Aeroplane Company, Type 3 Bristol Scout D, RNAS East Fortune 1916.

Its always the simplest and quickest builds that give the greatest satisfaction. I picked up this diminutive Libra/Scaleplanes vacform at the IPMS Avon show for the grand sum of a pound. The instructions mentioned etched brass, but all I got was a sheet of polystyrene and some aerofoil section rod. To simplify things a bit I used various modified parts (struts, wings undercarriage) from another biplane kit (an Academy Camel). Building took a whole evening, with a bit of sanding and painting the next day. Decals from the spares box.

Bristol's unarmed Scout was one of the very first military aircraft. Its designer, Captain Frank Barnwell RFC, (incidentally, the first man to achieve a powered flight in Scotland) served as a fighter pilot on the Western Front during the Fokker Scourge of 1915. As an experienced aircraft designer, Barnwell, was given leave to return to the UK, where he quickly converted and improved the Scout's pre-war "sports aircraft" design to fit the conditions of war. His real aim, however was to design a new purpose built fighter warplane, putting into effect all that he had learned on the Front. The result was Barnwell's crowning glory, the outstanding Bristol F.2 "Brisfit" Fighter.

Bristol Scout D - RNAS East Fortune, 1916

Used by both the RNAS and RFC, the Scout C made naval history when Sub Lt H F Towler made the world's first carrier launch of a wheeled land-plane, from the deck of the seaplane carrier HMS VINDEX on 3 Nov 1915. The final Scout D variant was more powerful and maneuverable, but still lacked effective armament, despite various ad-hoc attempts to mount Lewis and Vickers guns on the fuselage and upper wing (in which Major Lanoe Hawker (the first airman to receive the VC) played a major part) plus the unsuccessful use of free falling "Ranken Darts" for dropping on attacking Zeppelins.

Bristol Scout D - RNAS East Fortune, 1916

Sopwith Pup - FAA Museum Replica

This is the Airfix kit with my own cobbled together decals. A very nice kit of a well proportioned little aircraft.

Officially titled the Sopwith Scout, the Pup was so named because it looked to be the offspring of its 1 and 1/2 strutter predecessors. Used by both the RNAS and RFC, the Pup was maneouverable and deadly, albeit lightly armed; it dominated the Western Front between 1916 until 1917. Pups operated from RN Ships, with Flt Cdr F J Rutland making the first take of from a light cruiser (HMS YARMOUTH) in June 1917, and Sqn Cdr E H Dunning making the first ever deck landing in Aug 1917, onboard HMS FURIOUS (Dunning was killed a few days later, trying to repeat the feat).

Sopwith Pup (Scout)

Sopwith Pup (Scout)

Sopwith Pup (Scout)

Sopwith Triplane - Naval 1, Royal Naval Air Service, France 1917

Revell UK produced an excellent set of WW1 aircraft in the 1960s and 1970s. This Triplane is a perfect example, accurate and well engineered. Rigging was rather fun though!.

The Triplane caused a major stir when it appeared on the Western Front; a development of the successful Pup, with its low wing loading, astonishing manouevrability and excellent visibility (due to the narrow chord wings), it was far ahead of contemporary German aircraft and played a major part in ensuring Allied air superiority in 1917. Captured examples formed the basis of the infamous Fokker Triplane, which was never as successful as the Sopwith; the German "Tripe" copy had an alarming tendency to lose its wings in a dive.

Sopwith Triplane, Naval 1 RNAS France 1917

Sopwith Triplane, Naval 1 RNAS France 1917

Sopwith Triplane, Naval 1 RNAS France 1917

.... and the real thing (well a replica) hidden away at Yeovilton:

tripe cobham

Sopwith F1 Camel, B Flight Naval 10, Royal Naval Air Service 1917.

This is the Academy kit, which I believe has also been released by ESCI and TOKO. Not the best example of a Camel; its hump is far too small.

The Camel is perhaps the most famous fighter of WW1. Maneouverable, fast and well armed, it served at sea and ashore, with both RNAS and RFC.

Sopwith F1 Camel - B Flight Naval 10 RNAS, Western Front. 1917

Sopwith F1 Camel - B Flight Naval 10 RNAS, Western Front. 1917

Sopwith/Wm Beardmore 2F1 "Ships Camel", Royal Naval Air Service, 1918

Roden's 1/72 Camel series are hard to beat, although they are expensive.

All "Ships Camels" were built under licence by Wm Beardmore at Dumbarton, near Glasgow. The fuselage was designed to split just aft of the cockpit for easier onboard stowage. Like the Pup before it, the Camel served with great success at sea, as an anti U-Boat weapon and a long range strike aircraft.

Wm Beardmore / Sopwith 2F1 Ships Camel

Wm Beardmore / Sopwith 2F1 Ships Camel

Wm Beardmore / Sopwith 2F1 Ships Camel

DeHavilland/Airco DH4, Royal Naval Air Service 490/557/558 Flt, RNAS Great Yarmouth, 1918

Airfix's DH4 is a good kit. However, my one came out of its sealed vintage box with the lower wings missing, so the wings you see here are entirely scratch built from an old ice cream carton and styrene strip !

This model represents the aircraft flown by former RN airmen Major (later Sir) Egbert Cadbury (pilot - and yes, he was later a key figure in the chocolate industry) and Captain (later Air Cdre) Robert Leckie (gunner) of 212 Sqn RAF when they destroyed Zeppelin L-70 off the Norfolk Coast, effectively bringing the era of the Zeppelin raid to an end. Onboard L-70 was Fregatenkapitan Peter Strasser, overall commander and driving force of the German Naval Airship Service.

DH.4 - Royal Naval Air Service, Great Yarmouth 1918

DH.4 - Royal Naval Air Service, Great Yarmouth 1918

Part 1A - Biplanes of the Royal Naval Air Service (WW1)

Part 1B - Biplanes of the Fleet Air Arm (1919-1945)

Part 2A - Monoplanes of the Fleet Air Arm (early WW2)

Part 2B - Monoplanes of the Fleet Air Arm (late WW2)

Part 3 - Fleet Air Arm Props (post WW2)

Part 4 - Supermarine Seafire Pages

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