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Sopwith Buffalo

Страна: Великобритания

Год: 1918

Sopwith - Sparrow - 1917 - Великобритания<– –>Sopwith - Bulldog / 2FR.2 - 1918 - Великобритания

H.King Sopwith Aircraft 1912-1920 (Putnam)


   To dismiss the Buffalo - the last new Sopwith type to be produced during the war - merely as a two-seat counterpart of the Salamander would be to understate its purpose and technical merits and to underrate its potential. In essence, nevertheless, there was the same inhibiting provision of extensive armour plate this by the requirement for operation at levels easily attained by small-arms fire from the ground.
   A trim, positively fighter-like appearance (for in this regard the Buffalo outdid the Bristol Fighter and rivalled even its own companion-type the Bulldog - not to name the Austin Greyhound, Bristol Badger and Westland Weasel) quite belied its poor performance; for any new warplane of 1918 having a maximum speed at low level of about 110 mph (177 km h) and a service ceiling of 9,000 ft (2,740 m) must be accounted poor indeed in this respect. And yet, when it is considered that the Buffalo's crew numbered two, each with a plentifully-fed machine-gun; that the engine was of 230 hp only; and that the weight of armour, though not precisely known, must in itself have been a formidable hindrance, then the figures seem far less distressful.
   The Buffalo was, in fact, quite an object-lesson in design. In the first place, it was remarkably compact, for the two-bay wings spanned only about 3 ft (0.9 m) more than those of the single-seat Salamander or Snipe. Commensurately modest were the fuselage dimensions a fact to which the photographs attest by emphasising the relative bulk of the Bentley B.R.2 engine and its associated fairings. The small cross-section behind the engine represented not merely economy in weight but a wide downward field of view (and of fire) for the gunner, while presenting - in modern parlance - a 'low profile' to return fire from the ground.
   To Sopwith the Buffalo was known initially as a 'trench fighter' following the precedents of the special 'T.F.' Camel and the Salamander; but officially its purpose was 'contact patrol’. This specialised and dangerous function called for very low flying over the battle zone to determine by visual observation or 'contact' the dispositions of the infantry; hence the protective armour. ‘Offensive patrol' was a secondary consideration - implicit in the absence of bombing capability.
   Clearly, a wide field of view for the pilot was a primary requirement, and this was met by seating him high, close behind the engine, with his head in a large, oblong centre-section cut-out. Very close behind him was the observer/gunner, whose upward view was enhanced by a trailing-edge cut-out, though whose downward vision was impeded - on the first machine especially - by the bottom wing.
   Two Buffaloes - H5892 and H5893 - were ordered in July 1918, the 'fighter’ element in the design, already touched upon, being accentuated by the stipulation that as many Bulldog parts as possible should be embodied. This stipulation may well have been responsible in part for the speed with which H5892 was prepared for night-trials at Brooklands, where it arrived on 18 September, 1918, and was photographed (as two pictures herewith testify) on the following day. Very soon thereafter - on 20 October - H5892 was flown to No.1 Aeroplane Supply Depot at Marquise, and experience in France brought recommended changes, though to what degree these were incorporated in H5893 when it was delivered to Martlesham Heath on 18 November (one week exactly after the signing of the Armistice) is unsure.
   Conspicuous differences between the two Buffaloes were concerned with the engine-fairing, armament, armour, and tail surfaces, and may be summarised thus:
   The second example, H5893, had an extended and conical-shaped engine-fairing - to port at least - though this embodied (as on the earlier H5892) a link chute near the feed block of the pilot's synchronised Vickers gun - which was offset to port - with a case chute lower down and an air intake even lower. For the rear Lewis gun on the second aircraft there was a Scarff ring-mounting instead of the rocking-pillar mounting which traversed in a slot at the rear of the second cockpit of H5892; further, this new gunner's emplacement had additional armour protection, because the plating (which was structural, as on the Salamander) now extended rearward for an extra bay. The downward view for the gunner (or observer/gunner) was a little improved by sizable cut-outs in the bottom-wing trailing edges. Tail design on H5893 was much in contrast with the earlier form, for the rudder was newly shaped and far deeper in chord.
   On both Buffaloes a prominent feature was the ring-sight for the pilot's gun, stayed by struts to the engine cowling, though there was provision also for a central Aldis sight.
   Had the war not ended when it did there is little doubt that the Buffalo would have seen service in quantity; but development was not pursued, though H5893 was used for carburetter tests, and one Buffalo (possibly the same) served in another useful capacity, for as Harald Penrose recorded: 'By the end of February [1919] the Sopwith [Atlantic] was flying. Before dismantling for freighting it was filmed on duration trials by Lieut Engholm of Jury's International Pictures, who cranked his camera from a Sopwith Buffalo flying alongside.’
   Performance figures quoted below apply to Buffalo H5893 when carrying a military load of 158 lb (72 kg) and 375 lb (170 kg) of fuel and oil.

Buffalo (Bentley B.R.2)

   Span 34 ft 6 in (10.5 m): length 23 ft 3J in (7 m); wing area 370 sq ft (34.4 sq m). Empty weight 2,178 lb (988 kg); maximum weight 3.071 lb (1,392 kg). Maximum speed at 6.500 ft (1,980 m) 105.5 mph (169 km/h); service ceiling 9,000 ft (2,740 m).

F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)

Sopwith Buffalo

   The appalling carnage that had prevailed on the Western Front during the long years of territorial stalemate brought forth the realisation that the effective use of the aeroplane against battlefield targets could well represent the vital extra dimension needed to break the deadlock between the opposing armies. The greatest obstacle to this use was the huge numbers of soldiers packed into the trenches, who could put up a veritable curtain of small-arms fire against marauding aeroplanes - an obstacle that was to persist in air warfare as recently as 1991.
   Thus were born the ‘trench fighters’, the armoured fighters such as the T.F.1 Camel and the T.F.2 Salamander. To this strictly offensive role was soon added what became known as the ‘contact patrol’ fighter, in effect representing a return to the original purpose of the military aeroplane, that of tactical reconnaissance. In later years this specialist aircraft would become known simply as the reconnaissance fighter.
   In September 1918 appeared the Sopwith Buffalo, designed with this role in mind. Unlike the Salamander, which was strictly a single-seat ground attack fighter, the Buffalo carried an observer/gunner, and was therefore one step closer to the Bristol Fighter.
   Powered by a 230hp Bentley B.R.2 rotary engine, the Buffalo was of fairly orthodox configuration with two-bay, forward-staggered wings, and flying surfaces of typical Sopwith outline; plain ailerons were fitted on all wings. The first of two officially-sponsored prototypes, ordered in July 1918, H5892, was heavily armoured aft as far as the rear of the gunner’s cockpit, and featured rather crude-looking fairings to provide the transition from the engine’s circular section to the flat-sided centre and rear fuselage.
   The second aircraft appeared late in October with the side armour extended further aft of the rear cockpit, cutaway trailing edge of the lower wing roots, and with much tidier side fairings. The second example also carried a Scarff ring for the Lewis gun on the gunner’s cockpit in place of the rocking-pillar mounting of the first aircraft. To support the weight of armour while on the ground, the undercarriage was considerably strengthened, as were the inboard wing sections. Not surprisingly the Sopwith Buffalo was not as fast nor manoeuvrable as its elder kin.
   The first prototype was sent to France and arrived at Marquise on 20 October 1918 for operational trials, but these had not been completed when the Armistice was signed. The second prototype underwent official trials during November and December at Martlesham Heath but, with rapidly dwindling operational responsibilities, the RAF did not adopt the aircraft for service.

   Type: Single-engine, two-seat, two-bay biplane contact patrol fighter.
   Manufacturer: The Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd, Kingston-upon-Thames and Brooklands, Surrey.
   Powerplant: One 230hp Bentley B.R.2 rotary engine driving two-blade Lang propeller.
   Dimensions: Span, 34ft 6in; length, 23ft 3 1/2 in; height, 9ft 6in; wing area, 326 sq ft.
   Weights: Tare, 2,178lb; all-up, 3,071lb.
   Performance: Max speed, 114 mph at 1,000ft; climb to 3,000ft, 4 min 55 sec; service ceiling, 9,000ft.
   Armament: One synchronized 0.303in Vickers machine gun on nose decking, and one Lewis gun on rear cockpit (with Scarff ring on second aircraft).
   Prototypes: Two, H5892 and H5893 (H5892 first flown on 19 September 1918, and H5893 in October 1918). No production.

J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)

Sopwith Buffalo

  IN the trench warfare which characterised the 1914-18 war, it became necessary for reconnaissance aircraft to fly low in order to establish the position of the infantry by close visual observation. This duty was known as Contact Patrol, and was inevitably dangerous: casualties among the pilots and observers were heavy.
  In September, 1918, the Sopwith company produced an armoured two-seater specifically for contact patrol work. This machine was named Buffalo. It was a two-bay biplane powered by the 230 h.p. B.R.2 rotary engine, and was quite a handsome aircraft. The pilot sat fairly high up with his head in a large cut-out in the upper centre-section, and the observer was close behind him.
  As on the Salamander, the entire forward portion of the fuselage was constructed of armour-plate which, on the first Buffalo, terminated at the back of the observer’s cockpit. This first machine, H.5892, originally had only a rocking-post mounting for the observer’s Lewis gun, but a Scarff ring-mounting was later fitted.
  The second Buffalo, H.5893, had the armour-plate extended one bay farther aft. A slightly larger fin was fitted, and the rudder was different in outline from that of the first machine. The shape of the fairings behind the engine cowling was also modified.
  Had the war lasted a few months longer, the Buffalo would have been in service in numbers, for it was about to go into production when the Armistice was signed. The first prototype, H. 5892, went to France on October 20th, 1918, when it was flown to No. 1 Aeroplane Supply Depot at Marquise. Doubtless it was intended to carry out Service trials under operational conditions, but the Armistice prevented the use of the Buffalo in action.

  Manufacturers: The Sopwith Aviation Company, Ltd., Canbury Park Road, Kingston-on-Thames.
  Power: 230 h.p. Bentley B.R.2.
  Dimensions: Span: 34 ft 6 in. Length: 23 ft 3 1/2 in. Height: 9 ft 6 in. Chord: 5 ft 6 in. Gap: 4 ft 6 in. Stagger: 1 ft 9 in. Dihedral: 2° 30'. Incidence: 1° 50'.
  Areas: Wings: 326 sq ft. Ailerons: each 11 sq ft, total 44 sq ft. Tailplane: 23 sq ft. Elevators: 15-8 sq ft. Fin: 4 sq ft. Rudder: 9 sq ft.
  Weights and Performance: No. of Trial Report: M.252. Date of Trial Report: February, 1919. Type of airscrew used on trial: L.5390. Weight empty: 2,178 lb. Military load: 158 lb. Crew: 360 lb. Fuel and oil: 375 lb. Loaded: 3,071 lb. Maximum speed at 1,000 ft: 114 m.p.h.; at 6,500 ft: 105-5 m.p.h. Climb to 3,000 ft: 4 min 55 sec; to 5,000 ft: 9 min 30 sec; to 6,500 ft: 16 min 55 sec. Service ceiling: 9,000 ft.
  Tankage: Petrol: 25 gallons.
  Armament: One fixed, forward-firing Vickers machine-gun on top of fuselage to port of centre, synchronised to fire through the airscrew; one Lewis machine-gun on Scarff ring-mounting on rear cockpit.
  Serial Numbers: H.5892, H.5893.

H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)

Buffalo. Among the several Sopwith prototypes of 1918 was the Buffalo armoured two-seater for 'contact patrol' duties. As was the case with the Rhino and Hippo, the first example had a rocking-pillar mounting for the rear Lewis gun, whereas the second had a Scarff ring-mounting. The pillar traversed in a transverse slot at the rear end of the cockpit. The pilot had a Vickers gun mounted on top of the fuselage to port and with the breech casing faired in. The link chute was by the feed block and the case chute lower down. Ring-and-bead sights were stayed to the gun, and there were brackets for a central Aldis sight. The armouring was structural, as on the Salamander, and was extended on the second machine by one bay aft.

Журнал Flight

Flight, February 6, 1919.



The "Buffalo." (February 19, 1918)

This machine, fitted with a B.R. 200 h.p. engine, was designed primarily for reconnaissance and contact patrol work, with a view to armouring the pilot, observer and fuel tanks against enemy attack. The construction of the fore part of the fuselage was similar to the "Salamander." It was fitted with one synchronised gun firing forward and one Lewis gun on a Scarff ring mounting firing aft. The experiments with this machine were highly successful, and it was on the point of being put into quantity production when the Armistice was signed.

H.King - Sopwith Aircraft 1912-1920 /Putnam/
A superb study of Buffalo H5892. (Sopwith caption reads: 'S.599 - Sopwith Buffalo - Trench Fighter Two Seater 1st. Experimental - Sept. 19/18"). Note especially the pilot's top-wing cut-out.
H.King - Armament of British Aircraft /Putnam/
The first Sopwiih Buffalo, with rocking-pillar mounting for Lewis gun.
J.Bruce - British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 /Putnam/
Sopwith Buffalo. The first Buffalo, H.5892, with rocking-post gun-mounting in rear cockpit.
H.King - Sopwith Aircraft 1912-1920 /Putnam/
The first Buffalo H5892 (top) - is seen here in an almost direct comparison with the second (H5893 lower). The Sopwith caption to the upper picture reads: 'S.596 - Sopwith Buffalo Trench Fighter Two Seater 1st. Experimental - Sept. 19/18'. Note the different gun-mountings and extent of armour.
H 5892 seen here, along with H 5893 were the only two Sopwith Buffalo two seat, close air support and reconnaissance machines built. As with the single seat Sopwith Salamander dealt with earlier, the Buffalo carried armour cladding to protect its crew from ground fire. In the case of the Buffalo, this armour plating covered the entire forward fuselage to a point just aft of the rear cockpit. Powered by a 230hp Bentley BR 2, the Buffalo had a top level speed of 114mph at 1.000 feet, while the machine took a laboured 4 minutes 55 seconds to reach 3,000 feet. First appearing in September 1918, the Buffalo appears to have been meagrely armed for a ground attack aircraft, carrying as it did a single, fixed, synchronised Vickers for the pilot, plus the observer's flexibly-mounted Lewis gun. Despite these apparent shortfalls, the Buffalo, according to the noted World War I aviation historian, Jack Bruce, was about to be ordered into production at the time of the Armistice.
J.Bruce - British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 /Putnam/
The second Buffalo, H.5893, with Scarff ring, modified engine fairings, extended armour-plate, and modified fin and rudder.
F.Mason - The British Fighter since 1912 /Putnam/
The second Buffalo trench fighter, H5893, showing the fuselage side armour extended aft beyond the gunner’s cockpit together with the rear Scarff gun ring.
H.King - Sopwith Aircraft 1912-1920 /Putnam/
The distinctive form of engine-fairing on Buffalo H5893 - the second example is seen here to advantage. (Sopwith caption reads: 'S.674 - Sopwith Buffalo No. 2 Armoured Trench Fighter 2 Seater - 200 hp Bentley Rotary Engine - Nov/8/18.).
H.King - Armament of British Aircraft /Putnam/
The second Buffalo, with Scarff ring-mounting. Note extent of armouring in this view.
Журнал - Flight за 1919 г.
Side elevations of the Sopwith machines
Журнал - Flight за 1919 г.
Front elevations of the Sopwith machines
Журнал - Flight за 1919 г.
Plan views of Sopwith machines