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The Sopwith Camel. Well done Elliot 

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The ‘Sop’ was a biplane fighter designed and manufactured by Herbert Smith and the Sopwith Aviation Company. The Sopwith Camel was used to good effect in WWI.

 

The Sopwith Camel was flown by Australia, Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, Greece and Latvia amongst others. The Camel had its maiden flight on December the 22nd 1916 and was piloted by Harry Hawker at Brookland, Weybridge, Surrey and was introduced to the public in June 1917. The planes were in active service for just over 2,5 years when, in January 1920, the last of the Sopwith Camels were withdrawn from service, with a total of 5,490 planes manufactured.

 

The planes ended up downing 1,294 enemy aircraft, one reason was that the plane was good at night fighting.  When the Germans switched from daytime attacks to night-time attacks, the Camel proved capable of being flown at night, and the defence squadron was quickly modified with navigation lights. On some Camels, The Vickers machine guns were replaced by the Lewis guns and the cockpit was moved backwards so the pilot could reload the guns. This modification allowed the guns to be fired without affecting the pilot's night-vision.

                

The Camel was a single-seated biplane* with two synchronised machine guns and one engine. The Sopwith Camel weighed 420kg without content (925 pounds), was 5,71 meters long (18 feet) and could reach a max speed of 185 km/h. The plane had plywood panels around the cockpit and had a fabric-covered skeleton, wings and tail. The Sopwith Camel was considered difficult to fly, Robert Jackson, an Aviation Author notes: "In the hands of a novice it displayed vicious characteristics that could make it a killer, but under the firm touch of a skilled pilot, who knew how to turn its vices to his own advantage, it was one of the most superb fighting machines ever built". The Sopwith Camel gained an ill-fated reputation with pilots, with some inexperienced pilots crashed on take-off.

 

Herbert Smith, born on 1 May 1889 in Yorkshire, designed the Sopwith Camel with the Sopwith Aviation Company. In his childhood, he attended the Keighley Boys Grammar School in West Yorkshire. Afterwards, Herbert attended Bradford Technical College and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering in 1907. In March 1914, Herbert Smith joined the Sopwith Aviation Company and the same year, he became Sopwith's chief engineer. Smith worked at the Sopwith Aviation Company until it dissolved in October 1920. Only a year later, in February 1921 the Mitsubishi Internal Combustion Engine Manufacturing Company invited Herbert, along with several other engineers, to help Mitsubishi create an aircraft production division. 

 

The Sopwith Aviation Company or Sopwith Aviation & Engineering Company had 5000 employees with its headquarter in Kingston upon Thames, London, England. In June 1912, Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith founded Sopwith Aviation Company. The company made over 16,000 aircraft during WWI but dissolved In October 1920.

 

A high School Project, April 2021. Elliot Hope, Hallsta, Sweden.

 

 

*A biplane is a plane with the main wings stacked above each other

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Student Collages 

Here are some end of term collage pieces created by some of our students and teachers'.

The first is called Commonwealth

The second is called Thatcher

The third is called Titanic

Well done everyone for your contributions!

Bridge Project:

 

The bridge project started out just before Xmas 2020 when I and a few  students were discussing difficult decisions in history, in particular the dropping of the atom bomb by President Truman in 1945. This discussion grew up into images of war in the Far East and a short story from me about those Sunday afternoon films, one would watch with mum, on the BBC in the early 1970’s. In particular I related the story of the Bridge over the River Kwai. When I was ten years old, the only part of the film that mattered was beating the Japs, Colonel Saito was most detestable screaming, ‘There are no rules. This is war not a game of cricket’ and I am certain I was not alone in hating Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinesss) when he began to reveal the charge wire to the Japs! Now many years on, the film reminds of the difficult often ambiguous decisions we make as humans – especially at war.

The result of all this chatter was that one of my 12 year old students decided he was going to build a replica of the famous bridge out of lollipop sticks and bits of glue and cardboard. Several weeks later, with a little bit of paint, a few models and with a little input from mum and dad - and a scale model of the bridge is before us. The photos in this article show what a great job he made of this undertaking! A big thank you to this one student and everyone else in and around the group who helped out in some way.

The lesson for young historians being perhaps two-fold: that one can achieve great things with very simple materials and like Colonel Nicholson in the film, one may sometimes make bad decisions but the heart and soul of Nicholson was always built on traditional values of honour, pride and loyalty.

For all those who can whistle……wuuu wu wuu wuw wu wu wuuuuuu

 

Peter John Fyles

Turn sound on 

Young Historians

Here is the first of some of our young history 'buffs' from far and wide across the world who have come to our attention.

Today we start with Cara from Sweden. If you would like your work to be featured here, or perhaps know a young person who should be featured here, then just drop us a line anytime!

Welcome Cara - Sweden 

 

Hi, my name is Cara Elize Feely. I live in a small town called Norrtelje which is about 60km north of Stockholm in Sweden. I was born in May 2006. my mum is Swedish and my dad is Irish. I’m an eight grade student at Montessori Gustavslund. History has always been one of my biggest interests and i hope one day to persue a career as a history teacher.

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