M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
H.King Sopwith Aircraft 1912-1920 (Putnam)
‘Spinning Jenny' was the name by which this generally unpopular biplane became known to its RNAS crews - a name which first came prominently to public attention (as, indeed, did the aeroplane itself) during the 1950s by reason of recollections then aired by J. C. Brooke, Sqn Ldr RAF (Ret).
While based at Killingholme, close by the River Humber, in Lincolnshire, this former RNAS officer had experienced the propensity of the particular Sopwith aeroplane now reviewed to spin at the least provocation. From his first - unpremeditated spin on the type (No.1055 was the specimen concerned) he regained control, and next day did two deliberate spins, though recovering from both only after a height-loss of about 1,000 ft. A hardly less valuable contribution to aeronautical history (for the deliberate spins must have been among the earliest) was also made during the 1950s by Sqn Ldr Brooke's declaration in these terms:
'As regards performance, the acceptance test in those days  consisted of a climb to 3.000 ft. and stay there for twenty minutes. The climb used to take about 20 minutes, and the top speed low down was about 55 to 60 knots. This climb was not quite as good as the Curtiss J.N.4s, which were also at Killingholme, but the speed was slightly better.’
Of the Two-seater Scout's propensity for spinning there will be more to say later; but concerning all-round performance the quotation just given enters this book at an opportune time. In the first place it emphasises the deplorable performance of a supposedly operational two-seater aircraft on the power of a 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine (for this was the powerplant indeed); second, in the phrase 'about 55 to 60 knots', the very word 'about' is fully as eloquent as the range of the figures themselves; and third, if the trouble is taken to convert those same figures thus - 55 kt = 63 mph=100 km/h, and 60 kt = 69 mph=111 km/h the futility will be apparent of claiming anything like 'exact" performance data for low-powered heavily laden aircraft-perhaps improperly rigged, and suffering from an overheating engine (not to mention the ravages of time or weather).
As for citing the Curtiss Jenny (quite coincidentally named, it seems) as a pacemaker or yardstick, it might insult most readers to remark that this type was, supposedly at least, a trainer pure and simple (though in truth it was neither pure nor simple); nevertheless, it might surprise those very readers to know that the Curtiss designer concerned - B. Douglas Thomas - had worked for both Avro and Sopwith, and that the basic Model J design had been started in England.
That the Sopwith 1914 Circuit Seaplane had been built to drawings marked 'D3' has already been recorded; and that the Folder Seaplane and the Two-seater Scout (which latter type appeared in March 1915, a few months later than the Folder) bore some kinship with the general form of aircraft so designated - widely spaced cockpits with headrest fairings and a low-powered rotary engine being earmarks of the breed - is evident. Apart from the obvious distinctions in landing gear, and non-folding wings of equal span (36 ft, 11m) as seen in the photographs, the Two-seater Scout had a shorter fuselage (apparently omitting one bay) which could well be accounted for by its smaller side area, as compared with the Folder Seaplane, with its floats. Strut-connected ailerons were fitted on all four wings, and the tail resembled that of the Folder. The main landing gear was of simple V-strut form (made taller when bombs were carried, as later described), and though the tailskid was sturdy and tall, the overall appearance of the Two-seater Scout must be accounted trim, and worthy, perhaps of a more powerful engine (the spinning proclivity notwithstanding). Weight is lent to this reasoning as the type is known to have gone to war not only with assorted small arms (though not machine-guns) - and bombs, carried either additionally or as an alternative load.
It is important here to note that during 1915 bombs were regarded as anti-airship, as well as anti-terrestrial, weapons; and thus the Sopwith Two-seater Scouts that were based not only at Killingholme, but at Hendon, Chingford and Great Yarmouth also, may indeed have been fulfilling the contemporary function of 'scout' - in the sense that their purpose was air fighting rather than reconnaissance, or 'scouting' in the Boer War tradition.
In general form - and especially in being strut-attached far below the fuselage - the bomb installation resembled that made on some Sopwith Schneiders (see later chapter). The bombs themselves - which were thus to some extent between the rear legs of the heightened landing gear - could well have been of the pattern called 'small petrol bomb’, the 16 lb carcass incendiary, the 16 lb H.E.R.L. or the 20 lb Hales H.E. The familiar '20 lb Cooper' had not at that time arrived, although an early form of Cooper fuse was designed for anti-aircraft work, and its designer had early associations with F. Marten Hale. Should a bombsight of any kind have been fitted this might well have been of the 'Lever' type, then used by the RNAS.
The last of twenty-four Sopwith Two-seater Scouts (Nos. 1051-1074) delivered to the Service just named arrived at the Royal Naval Air Station, Chingford on the north-eastern outskirts of London in June 1915. This fact emboldens one to record that the name of W. R. D. Shaw, of Chingford Road, Walthamstow, was linked with a scheme for fitting an aeroplane, generally resembling the Two-seater Scout, with a tailplane having 'a negative dihedral angle to prevent a spin or nosedive due to side-slip when banking’.
'Spinning Jenny" or no, we may allow the last word to a writer in Flight (March 1915). Thus, of ‘Hendon last Saturday': 'The first visitor to arrive in the afternoon was Mr. Harry Hawker on a tandem two-seater Sopwith tractor biplane. This new machine differs considerably from the usual Sopwith biplanes, and I can best give an idea of it by saying that it is an intermediary between the Scout and the larger two-seater' (whatever this may have signified probably 'between the Tabloid and the two-seat form of the Three-seater'). 'The planes are not staggered, as in nearly all other Sopwiths, but as the passenger sits well forward in the body he is on a level with or slightly ahead of the leading edge of the lower plane. The chassis is of the V-type, and is built of steel tubes throughout... Mr. Hawker tells me that she climbs exceedingly well' [good for Harry, though Sqn Ldr Brooke's opinion clearly differed here] 'besides being easy to handle and comfortable to fly. For those who had not had the opportunity to see Hawker's piloting for the past few months, it was quite a treat to watch him coming in from Brooklands travelling at a great pace, and to note that his piloting has lost none of its brilliancy since the days of looping and race meetings.’
Alas, the 'looping and race meetings' were now fast receding, and Neuve-Chappelle and Ypres were more in people's minds than the Hendon in its earlier, enchanted days. Already Two-seater Scouts were being fitted with what was then known as 'bomb-dropping gear'.
O.Thetford British Naval Aircraft since 1912 (Putnam)
SOPWITH SPINNING JENNY
Officially known as the Two-seater Scout, this aeroplane was more or less a landplane version of the Type 807 and at least 24 were delivered to the RNAS, being employed on anti-Zeppelin patrols from Hendon, Great Yarmouth and Killingholme. Armament was rudimentary and usually consisted of grenades, pistols or rifles. They enjoyed little success and were mostly withdrawn by the end of 1915. Serial numbers allocated were Nos.1051 to 1074 and No.1064 is illustrated. One 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine. Maximum speed, 69 mph. Service ceiling, 3.000 ft. Span, 36 ft.
H.King Armament of British Aircraft (Putnam)
Two-seater Scout. This derivative of the 'Daily Mail', or 'Circuit of Britain' type tractor two-seater (1914), was in one instance equipped for anti-Zeppelin work with a Lee-Enfield rifle firing Hales grenades and in another with a Mauser rifle firing German incendiary ammunition. A shotgun firing chain shot and a Very pistol have also been associated with the type. On specimens with lengthened undercarriage a bomb-carrier was attached beneath the fuselage immediately behind the undercarriage.
P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Among the aeroplanes pressed into service for anti-Zeppelin patrols were Sopwith Two-Seater Scouts, of which twenty-four had been produced and absorbed by the R.N.A.S. An unexpected tendency to slip into a spin was responsible for the nickname Spinning Jenny being earned by the type, which proved virtually useless as an interceptor of Zeppelins. Tugged aloft by its 80 h.p. Gnome the ungainly Sopwith was hard put to gain a meagre 3,000 ft. in height and wallowed far below the quarry which it was sent up to destroy from Coastal Air Stations.
The Spinning Jenny was basically a landplane version of the Sopwith Type 807 seaplane of 1914. Two-bay wings of equal span were fitted to a fuselage which was more or less identical with that of the Type 807, the tail unit also following the same pattern. A rather mixed range of armament was fitted to the anti-Zeppelin Scouts and consisted of combinations of the German Mauser rifle loaded with incendiary ammunition in the hope of setting fire to the marauders, the normal service rifle with Hales grenades, a shot-gun containing chain-shot, and the Very pistol.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Sopwith Two-Seat Scout
The Sopwith Two-Seat Scout was directly related to the Sopwith Admiralty Type 807, a seaplane which was in turn developed from the aircraft prepared for the 1914 Round-Britain contest. In appearance it might be described as a ‘stretched’ Sopwith Tabloid, with lengthened fuselage to accommodate a pair of widely separated cockpits, and two-bay wings; it was powered by a 100hp Gnome monosoupape engine, cowled in a manner reminiscent of the Tabloid. The wings were rigged without stagger, and ailerons were fitted to both upper and lower wings. The aircraft attracted the attention of the Admiralty who placed an order for 24 examples, their intended role being that of anti-Zeppelin patrol. However, with a two-man crew and a heterogeneous choice of hand-held weapons, its ceiling was limited to no more than 3,000 feet, and it is impossible to imagine just how these aircraft could intercept the airship raiders. The armament carried ranged from a Service rifle firing Hales grenades, and a shot-gun firing chain-shot, to a signal pistol with two rounds; others carried a Mauser rifle firing incendiary ammunition.
The Two-Seat Scouts were flown by the RNAS at Hendon, Killingholme and Great Yarmouth on anti-airship patrols, quickly earning the nickname ‘Spinning Jenny’. Pilots overworked their engines in fruitless attempts to climb above 3,000 feet, resulting in frequent engine failures and a subsequent tendency to spin. As spin recovery was not yet included in flying training syllabuses, these gyrations were usually fatal. It is believed that all surviving Two-Seat Scouts had been withdrawn from service by the end of 1915 - without having engaged so much as a single enemy airship.
Type: Single-engine, two-seat, two-bay biplane scout.
Manufacturer: The Sopwith Aviation Co Ltd, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey.
Powerplant: One 100hp Gnome monosoupape engine driving two-blade propeller.
Dimensions: Span, 36ft 0in.
Performance: Max speed, 69 mph at sea level; climb to 3,000ft, 20 min; ceiling, 3,000ft; endurance, 3 1/2 hr.
Armament: Choice of weapons included a Service rifle firing Hales grenades, a shot-gun firing chain-shot or a Mauser rifle firing incendiary ammunition; some aircraft had provision to carry small bombs.
Production: No prototype. 24 production aircraft, Nos. 1051-1074.
Summary of Service: Aircraft served on RNAS Stations at Hendon, Killingholme and Great Yarmouth.