Sopwith Tabloid

Sopwith TabloidSopwith Tabloid

One of the most notable developments at the end of 1913 was the appearance of the Sopwith ‘Tabloid’ tractor biplane. This single-seater, fitted with an 80 horsepower Gnome rotary engine, had the remarkable speed (for those days) of 92 miles an hour. A still more notable feature was that it could remain in level flight while only flying 37 miles per hour. The Tabloid was particularly important because it was the forerunner of later Sopwith single-seater fighters like the Pup, Triplane, Camel, and Dolphin, which were used so extensively from 1914 to 1918. It was also probably the first airplane that could reach a height of 1,000 feet within one minute.

[ad#ad-1]The Sopwith Tabloid was originally built as a side-by-side two-seater for Harry Hawker, Sopwith’s chief test pilot, whose 1919 attempt to fly the Atlantic was frustrated by a radiator failure. In the Tabloid machine lateral control was effected by means of wing-warping. This machine first demonstrated the possibilities of the small single-seater biplane as a rival to the monoplane for high-speed work, while retaining a large range of flying speeds.

Flying a Sopwith Tabloid, specially equipped with floats and a 100 h.p. monosoupape Gnome, Howard Pixton won the Jacques Schneider Cup at Monaco on April 20, 1914, when he defeated the leading French aviators, Gabriel Espanet and Julien Levasseur. Winning the $5,000 prize, Pixton completed the 150 nautical mile course in 2 hours and 13 seconds, an average speed of 67.6 knots.

36 Tabloids saw service with the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Early in the war, they were used as fast scouts. Some naval aircraft were armed with a Lewis gun on the top wing, firing over the propeller arc. The Tabloid also operated as a bomber. On 22 September 1914 they mounted the first raid by British aircraft on German soil. In their most famous mission, two RNAS Tabloids flying from Antwerp on 8 October 1914, raided the German Zeppelin sheds at Cologne and DÃ