Friday, June 10, 2011

More Sopwith Camels

Several countries used the Sopwith Camel during the Great War. For now I am only dealing with Belgium and Estonia. I have Unit markings for Camels in American service, however I am still researching the numbering system and arrangement for them. I will not post until I have nailed it down.

Sopwith Camels in Belgian Service

The first Sopwith F.1 Camel for the Aviation Militaire Belge, Sk-1 (later Sc-1) (B5710) arrived at Calais-Beaumarais in November 1917. Up to 50 Camels were in service of the Aviation Militaire from 1917 up till 1922.

Sopwith Camel Sk4 flown by Adj. Leon Cremers of the Belgian 11th Fighter Squadron (White Cocotte). The white origami bird, red and white checkered elements and the spiral wheel cover decoration make this a very distinctive plane. Some examples show markings on the rudder, some do not. I chose to go with them.

Sopwith Camel Sk7 flown by Jan Olieslagers. He flew Camels in the 9me Escadrille de Chasse until the end of the war. The white thistle insignia was a favorite theme in Belgian insignias. The dark triangular markings on the cowling have been shown as red, dark green and black. Most often it is shown as black so once again I made a personal choice.

Sopwith Camel in Estonian Service

During Estonia’s War of Independence, 1918-1920, the British government provided the young Estonian government with much needed military hardware and political support. On April 28 1919, Britain delivered one Sopwith Camel 2F.1 (N 6616), two B.E.2.e’s and two Norman Thompson N.T.2B’s. These British aircraft represented an initial shipment of military aviation goods to the new Republic of Estonia by the United Kingdom.

Sopwith Camel 2F.1 N 6616 was designated as s/n 5 of the Estonian Aviation Company. The national insignia is an old style black, white, and cornflower blue equilateral triangular arrangement. I have seen several examples and all seem to be in agreement on how the plane was marked.


BigLee said...

The Sopwith is one of my favorite planes of WWI. Seen a few original examples in the RAF Museum Hendon and the Inperial War Museum, Duxford.

The Angry Lurker said...

The colours are amazing and an amazing aircraft but I'm biased towards the german aircraft..

kingsleypark said...

Those are so much better than the boring RAF designs!!

Presumably the Foreign pilots had just as many probelms flying the Camel as the RAF pilots did?

W. I. Boucher said...

@BigLee, I never got a chance to go there when I lived in Europe. I have seen replicas in the US. I was surprised that the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum did not have a Camel in their collection. The closest you can get to being in a Camel is their full motion flight simulators They do have a Snipe, which is my favorite British plane.

@Fran, Glad you liked the color. Ah another Hun lover in our midst. ;^]

@kp, I think a camel will kick or bite a rookie regardless of what language you speak. The Belgian pilots who received Camels were battle-hardened veterans who had fought on the Western Front from the beginning. The American Squadrons using them used them well. In the case of Estonia, he British provided trainers to help shape the Estonian Air Force into a fighting unit.