H.King Sopwith Aircraft 1912-1920 (Putnam)
Scooter and Swallow
It is hardly to be supposed that Tom Sopwith's pre-war dictum 'If you want speed the monoplane has it’ was the direct reason why the two above-named delightful little parasol machines were built, though Sopwith's French associations, stemming largely from that early love of his, the Bleriot, may have had something to do with the matter. However this may be, Harry Hawker's was the name most closely linked with 'Sopwith Monoplane No.1', as the Scooter was first known; for not only did he use it as a runabout (or 'scooter') after its completion in July 1918, but it was he who bought it in April 1921. By that time it had been registered to the Sopwith company, first as K.135, then in mid-1919 - as G-EACZ. To complete the peacetime history of the dainty little Scooter before describing its inception: after Hawker's death it was placed in storage until it was overhauled for C. Clayton of Hendon, the new C of A being dated 1 August, 1925. In August 1926 it was sold to Dudley Watt, who used it frequently until - after it had flown in the Lympne Open Handicap of 18 September, 1926 - it was sold as scrap in 1927.
The Scooter's fuselage was that of a standard 130 hp Clerget-powered F.1 Camel; nor did the tail organs differ noticeably. The swept-back monoplane wing, however, was altogether new. It was mounted very close indeed to the fuselage (though in parasol fashion, as noted) on short splayed-out struts, and with a tall pyramidal cabane above these struts to anchor four landing wires which ran from its apex to the wing upper surfaces on each side. Below the wing, running up from the bottom longerons, were corresponding flying wires. So close was the wing to the fuselage that a trailing-edge cut-out was a necessity rather than a convenience.
As aeroplanes for aerobatic demonstrations, it has long been known that parasol monoplanes possess - for no other reason, perhaps, than their 'different' appearance - a definite advantage; and this in part accounts for the tremendous public successes achieved by Marcel Doret in his Dewoitines. Thus, anyone who saw Doret perform will relish especially this Flight account of the Scooter's act at the 1920 RAF Pageant - immediately after the Relay Race, for Avros, Bristol Fighters and Snipes:
'A mere civilian then gave an excellent exhibition of stunt flying. Our old friend, Harry Hawker, ascended on the pretty Sopwith Swallow [sic: its registration proclaimed it as the Scooter, though the two names were sometimes used without discrimination] - the only monoplane on the day's active list and executed many extraordinary evolutions. They seemed quite different from the others we had been witnessing previously - but what the exact difference was we cannot well define. For one thing, Hawker had a peculiar way of terminating each loop, roll or spin with a sort of "jerk" - the machine coming to normal attitude quite suddenly and evenly.'
Yet even this 'mere civilian' on his 'pretty' Sopwith monoplane must have conceded some applause for the next item on the programme: the 'shooting-down' of a kite-balloon by a Snipe flown by Flt Lieut Hazell DSO, MC, DFC - pilot's war record, 34 aeroplanes and 16 balloons. This was especially true because in 1920 the Snipe was still the RAF's latest standard fighter; which brings us round again to the Scooter's lineal successor the Swallow.
Now having already mentioned Sopwith's own French associations, and likewise - in a wholly different context - the aerobatic displays of Marcel Doret, one refers once again to a Dewoitine monoplane, though this time to the D.373, used in the 1930s by the French Navy as a carrier-borne fighter, in succession to another parasol-winged fighter, the Wibault 74. That these French machines were indeed the first carrier-borne monoplanes to be used as standard equipment by any of the world's navies can hardly be disputed. But that the Sopwith Swallow of 1918 was itself intended for deck-landing is, in itself, a fact of real historical significance, for it was built and flown a full five years before that other pioneer British carrier-borne fighter the Handley Page H.P.21. Over the Vickers Vireo of 1928 its lead was far greater.
One other point of interest is that the very first Hawker (post-Sopwith) production - the Duiker reconnaissance aircraft of 1923 - was of parasol-monoplane form, though this was not for Naval use as was its near-contemporary the Blackburn Airedale. As for the name 'Scooter', conferred on the Swallow's aviary-mate, this was already familiar when adopted, though in early postwar years small motor-cycles so named became popular, and in 1919 Granville Bradshaw, whose A.B.C. engines have prominence in this book, produced his tiny 1 hp Skootamota ('decades ahead of its time", to quote an expert view).
Although the Sopwith Swallow (completed October 1918) greatly resembled the Scooter it was, in fact, considerably different, having, in the first place, a wing of greater span and larger area a fact that might be related to the joint demands of shipboard operation and the fitting of armament. Even so, the area was much less figures being 162 sq ft (15 sq m) and 221 sq ft (20.5 sq m) - and this figure for the Camel was appreciably less than that for the corresponding land-based version. Stiffness was augmented by multiple chordwise external strips between the spars - to a greater extent than on the Buffalo biplane; the wing was higher set above the fuselage than on the Scooter, necessitating longer attachment struts beneath the landing-wire pylon; and partly by reason of a new wingtip shape, but also because of their greater span - the ailerons were increased in area.
While the raised mounting of the parasol wing may in some measure have been dictated by considerations of pilot-view, this feature also allowed easier installation of, and access to, the two synchronised Vickers guns that formed the armament. These guns were more widely spaced than on the similarly armed Camel (thus further improving the field of view) and lay almost wholly exposed - certainly lacking the familiar 'hump' with combined large ejection chutes for cases and links immediately below them. Ring-and-bead sights were titled for Martlesham Heath trials.
Apart from the gun installation and cowling, the Swallow's fuselage adhered closely to standard Camel F.1 practice (not 2F.1 be it noted, though with shipboard intentions still in mind, this point may be of scant significance for shorebased operation would hardly have been out of mind, and may, indeed, have dominated). Indeed, the Swallow which was sometimes called ‘Monoplane No. 2' still bore the number B9276, proclaiming its Boulton & Paul origins as one of a Camel F.1 batch. Nevertheless, the name 'Swallow' was applied in neat capital letters on the line of the top longerons just behind each roundel.
Having regard to the fact that the Camel airframe was fitted with engines of upward of 150 hp, overmuch may have been made of the fact that, as officially tested at Martlesham Heath (where it was delivered on 28 October, 1918) the Swallow was powered with a 110 hp Le Rhone - or, as Sopwith photograph-captions have it, a 110 hp Clerget. Development in the direction of the 230 hp Bentley B.R.2 (which was, in fact, used in the carrier-borne Nieuport Nightjar, before the arrival of the radial-engined Parnall Plovers and Fairey Flycatchers) could well have been intended, though this did not occur.
That in round figures the Swallow proved about 5 mph slower than a similarly engined Camel is not. perhaps, as significant as it might appear (the propeller, for instance may have been a compromise between demands of speed and climb) though fuel-system trouble which delayed official trials had presumably been fully rectified. In any case, the official test report was dated May 1919; and that was no propitious time for ordering development and production of the RAF's first monoplane.
Scooter (130 hp Clerget)
Dimensions uncertain, but wing area about 135 sq ft (12.5 sq m). Maximum weight 1.300 lb (590 kg). Maximum speed approximately I 15 mph (185 km/h).
Swallow (110 hp Le Rhone)
Span 28 ft 10 in (8.8 m); length 18 ft 9 in (5.7 m); wing area 162 sq ft (15 sq m). Empty weight 889 lb (400 kg); maximum weight 1,420 lb (645 kg). Maximum speed at 10,000 ft (3,050 m) 113.5 mph (182 km/h); climb to 15,000 ft (4,570 m) 20 min: service ceiling 18,500 ft (5.640 m).
P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
In October, 1918, there emerged at Kingston an unusual venture for Sopwith - a single-seat, parasol monoplane fighter named the Swallow or Sopwith Monoplane No. 2. The machine was derived from the Scooter or Monoplane No. 1, which had appeared earlier in the middle of the year. The Swallow, B9276, used a Camel fuselage, a 110 h.p. le Rhone engine and carried a pair of fixed Vickers guns on the fore-decking. The machine was a very neat and attractive design but received no development beyond the single prototype.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
The little Sopwith Swallow monoplane fighter was a direct development of the Scooter, a company venture which appeared in June 1918 and employed a Camel fuselage with a parasol wing mounted above but very close to the fuselage, braced with Raf-wires to a pyramidal cabane above the wing and to the lower longerons below. Powered by a 130hp Clerget, it was frequently flown by Harry Hawker for personal transport and as an aerobatic mount.
The Swallow flew in October, again using a Camel fuselage but retaining the twin Vickers guns and powered by a 110hp Le Rhone. The wing was located rather higher above the fuselage to enable the pilot to attend to his guns.
Only one Swallow was built, B9276, and this underwent official trials in May 1919, but displayed no improvement over the Camel. That the Swallow was in any way influenced by the appearance in the summer of 1918 of the German Fokker D VIII parasol monoplane is unlikely, yet the dimensions and weights were extraordinarily similar. However, employing a cantilever wing and the minimum of attachment struts, the German aeroplane was some 15 mph faster on the same nominal power.
Type: Single-engine, single-seat, parasol monoplane fighter.
Manufacturer: The Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd, Brooklands, Surrey.
Powerplant: One 110hp Le Rhone rotary engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 28ft 10in; length, 18ft 9in; wing area, 162 sq ft.
Weights: Tare, 889lb; all-up, 1,420lb.
Performance: Max speed, approx 122 mph at sea level; climb to 10,000ft, 9 min 55 sec; ceiling, 18,500ft.
Armament: Two synchronized 0.303in Vickers machine guns on upper decking of nose.
Prototype: One, B9276; first flown in October 1918.
W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters
SOPWITH SWALLOW UK
Utilising an F.1 Camel fuselage mated with a parasol wing, the Swallow single-seat fighter monoplane was powered by a 110 hp Le Rhone 9J nine-cylinder rotary engine and carried the standard armament of twin synchronised 0.303-in (7,7-mm) machine guns. Flown for the first time in September 1918, the Swallow was delivered to Martlesham Heath for official trials on 29 October 1918, remaining there until May 1919, the trials having been delayed by fuel system problems. The performance of the Swallow as revealed at Martlesham did not warrant further development, and the prototype was scrapped.
Max speed, 113 mph (182 km/h) at 10,000 ft (3050 m).
Time to 6,500 ft (1 980 m), 5.6 min.
Empty weight, 889 lb (403 kg).
Loaded weight, 1,420 lb (644 kg).
Span, 28 ft 10 in (8,79 m).
Length, 18 ft 9 in (5,72 m).
Height, 10 ft 2 in (3,10 m).
Wing area, 160 sqft (14,86 m2).
J.Bruce British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 (Putnam)
Sopwith Scooter and Swallow
THAT there was nothing stereotyped in Sopwith design-thinking has been amply demonstrated in the preceding descriptions of earlier Sopwith types, but none had been a monoplane. The first Sopwith monoplane was the Scooter, which appeared in June, 1918. It was in fact originally known as the Sopwith Monoplane No.1.
The Scooter consisted of an F.1 Camel fuselage fitted with a parasol wing which was mounted very close to the fuselage and was braced by Rafwires. A tall pyramidal cabane was mounted above the centre portion of the wing, and four landing wires ran from it to each half of the mainplane. Flying wires ran from the bottom longerons to the mainplanes at favourable angles. The main flying wires were duplicated.
The Scooter provided Hawker with a fine aerobatic mount, and survived the Armistice to go on the Civil Register, first as K.135 and later as G-EACZ. It was still flying in 1925.
From the Scooter was developed the Swallow, a single-seat fighter originally designated Sopwith Monoplane No. 2. Again a Camel fuselage (that of B.9276) was used, but the armament was retained and the engine was the 110 h.p. Le Rhone in place of the 130 h.p. Clerget which was fitted to the Scooter. The Le Rhone, although of lower nominal output than the 130 h.p. Clerget, could, when properly tuned, deliver rather more power: it gave 128-137 h.p., whereas the Clerget delivered 125 h.p. The Swallow appeared in October, 1918.
The Swallow’s wing was of slightly greater span and area, and was rather higher above the fuselage to give the pilot access to his guns, which were fully exposed and not partially covered by a hump, as on the Camel. The centre-section struts were longer than those of the Scooter and had a more pronounced outwards rake when seen from the front. The central portion of the wing was reinforced, and the ailerons were of longer span than those of the Scooter.
The Swallow arrived too late to be developed for Service use. The official trials conducted in May, 1919, showed no improvement in performance over the Camel.
Manufacturers; The Sopwith Aviation Company, Ltd., Canbury Park Road, Kingston-on-Thames.
Power: Scooter: 130 h.p. Clerget. Swallow: 110 h.p. Le Rhone.
Areas: Wings: Swallow, 162-5 sq ft.
Weights and Performance: No. of Trial Report: M.255. Date of Trial Report: May, 1919. Type of airscrew used on trial: L.5430. Weight empty: 889 lb. Military load: 150 lb. Pilot: 180 lb. Fuel and oil: 201 lb. Loaded: 1,420 lb. Maximum speed at 10,000 ft: 113-5 m.p.h.; at 15,000 ft: 105 m.p.h. Climb to 6,500 ft: 5 min 35 sec; to 10,000 ft: 9 min 55 sec; to 15,000 ft: 20 min. Service ceiling: 18,500 ft.
Armament: Scooter: none. Swallow: two fixed, forward-firing Vickers machine-guns mounted on top of the fuselage, synchronised to fire through the airscrew.
Serial Numbers: Swallow: B.9276.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Swallow. Although the Swallow parasol monoplane fighter, which appeared just before the Armistice, had a Camel fuselage, the two Vickers guns were rearranged. The hump was no longer in evidence, and the guns were more widely spaced, lying exposed along the upper cowling and having combined large ejection chutes for cases and links immediately below them.
A.Jackson British Civil Aircraft since 1919 vol.3 (Putnam)
Single seat monoplane comprising a Sopwith Camel fuselage fitted with a wire-braced wing and powered by one 130 h.p. Clerget. One aircraft only, somewhat resembling the Sopwith Swallow, first flown at Brooklands 6.18, registered 29.5.19 as K-135/G-EACZ as an aerobatic mount for H. G. Hawker, to whom it was sold 4.21. Overhauled for C. Clayton, Hendon, 5.25, C. of A. 1.8.25, exhibition flying by J. Phillips, sold 8.26 to Dudley Watt, by whom it was extensively raced. Sold as scrap 1927.
Wing area, 162 sq. ft. Length, 18 ft. 9 in. Tare wt., 890 lb. A.U.W., 1,420 lb. Max. speed, 115 m.p.h.