H.King Sopwith Aircraft 1912-1920 (Putnam)
The 'Sopwith Kitten'
Although Commander Harry Busteed was at one time in charge of the RNAS Experimental Flight at Eastchurch, and - in the course of his work - also had a close relationship with the Sopwith company (being, in any case, one of the three original 'Aussie Harrys' together with Hawker and Kauper) there is scant reason to suppose that the name 'Sopwith Kitten' was justly applicable to the ship's ultra-light armed scout which was otherwise called the Port Victoria P.V.8 Eastchurch Kitten. The ascription might, nevertheless, have been fostered by structural features, the most obvious being the plank-type interplane struts. (The true designer was, it seems, Capt Gilbert Henry Millar, who, after a period as a prisoner of war, escaped. Millar had yachting experience, had joined the RNVR and was transferred successively to the RNAS and the RAF. Although he became a pilot himself, he served also as an observer with the Fleet).
The photograph herewith of the charming little aeroplane just mentioned is reproduced for two reasons - apart from the discredited name 'Sopwith Kitten' and from the fact that this particular picture appears not to have been previously published: (1) The photograph was given to the present writer by Sir Frank Spriggs, who was with Sopwith from 1913 to 1920, and later became managing director of Hawker Siddeley. Though received together with views of indubitable Sopwith types, this Kitten picture had no accompanying text. (2) This same photograph shows a tailplane of seemingly unfamiliar form, though one of another shape was apparently fitted after the aircraft had been initially flown with no horizontal fixed tail-surfaces whatever.
Yet another derivative of the Sopwith Baby was the one-off Port Victoria P.V.1, with wings of higher aspect ratio, heavily cambered and heavily staggered.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
P.V.8 (Eastchurch Kitten). Built to meet the same requirements as the P.V.7, the P.V.8 had its Lewis gun offset to starboard. This type likewise had a cut-away trailing edge to allow elevation, though it was officially reported that the gun would be awkward to fire because of the pilot's cramped position.
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
PORT VICTORIA P.V.8 (EASTCHURCH KITTEN) UK
Although designed by Lt G H Millar of the RNAS Experimental Flight at Eastchurch and partly built by that establishment, this competitor for the P.V.7 as a lightweight single-seat interceptor was completed in the workshops at Port Victoria and assigned the designation P.V.8. Becoming known as the Eastchurch Kitten, the P.V.8 was an angular single-bay staggered biplane intended, like the P.V.7, to be powered by the geared ABC Gnat engine, but of necessity fitted with the 35 hp ungeared version of this two-cylinder power plant. When initially flown on 1 September 1917, the P.V.8 possessed no fixed tailplane, but the horizontal tail surfaces were redesigned to incorporate a small tailplane prior to the second flight. Proving itself superior to the P.V.7 in every way, the P.V.8 suffered similar problems with its engine. On 13 March 1918, the Eastchurch Kitten was packed for despatch to the USA, where it was to be evaluated, but there is no record that it ever reached its destination.
Max speed, 94 mph (151 km/h) at 2,000 ft (610 m).
Time to 6,500 ft (1 980 m), 11.0 min.
Empty weight, 340 lb (154 kg).
Loaded weight, 586 lb (266 kg).
Span, 18 ft 11 1/2 in (5,78 m).
Length, 15 ft 7 1/2 in (4,76 m).
Height, 5 ft 2 in (1,57 m).
Wing area, 106 sqft (9,85 m2).