TYPE: One-seated Fighter
AMOUNT IN NORWEGIAN SERVICE: 18
1x .303 in Vickers machinegun
2x 29 kg bombs
Length: 7.01 m
Wingspan: 7.82 m
Height: 3.05 m
Wing area: 22 m2
Empty weight: 556 kg
Gross weight: 778 kg
Powerplant: 1x Clerget 9Z 9-cylinder air-cooled rotary piston engine, 110 hp
Propellers: 2-bladed fixed-pitch propeller
Maximum speed: 160 km/h at sea level
Endurance: 2 hours 15 minutes
Service ceiling: 3,000 m
Rate of climb: 1.45 m/s
SERIAL NUMBERS - times in service and fates
In the spring of 1917, the Norwegian Air Force was given the opportunity to purchase 10 Sopwith Baby sea fighters from England. Until then, almost all Norwegian military aviation had been characterized by previous French solutions, but the rapid development of aircraft equipment during the war years meant that the Norwegian equipment quickly became obsolete. These fighters therefore represented something completely new, also in a Nordic context. The aircraft type was a further development of the Sopwith factory’s Tabolid, which won the Scheider Cup in Monaco in 1914 and its successor, the fighter Schneider from 1915. It was therefore a proven concept that arrived by boat in Bergen in 1917 and was then transported to Horten. Norway received four aircraft in September 1917 and six in March and July 1918. In addition, spare engines, blueprints, weapons and spare material were delivered.
The aircraft were assembled at the Marinens Flyfabrikk in Horten and were initially stationed at the Marinens Hovedflystasjon there. from summer 1918, however, three aircraft were deployed at the new air station in Kristiansand. In the autumn of 1918, two planes were sent to Karmøy to look for mines. the waters between Scotland and Norway were mined during the war, and when the war was over, this posed a major threat to civilian shipping. in 1922 three planes were also stationed on Flatøy near Bergen
The aircraft became very popular among naval aviators. For many years, they were the most modern fighter aircraft in Scandinavia and were used in several different contexts: herring hunting, displays at home and abroad, for expeditions to the polar regions to search for the airship “Italia” and the flying boat "Latham with Roald Amundsen, which was reported missing in June 1928, rehearsal exercises, Svalbard expeditions and mail transport, to name a few. Norway had a total of 18 such aircraft, but never more than 10 at the same time. New aircraft were built as some crashed, and the last Sopwith Baby flights in Norway took place in July and August 1930 with F.108 and F.118 the last seven aircraft were scrapped and burned in December 1931.
Several nations had Sopwith Baby, but nowhere else were the planes kept in service as long as here in Norway, and it was actually Norway’s only fighter plane right up until they were scrapped.
There are no original such planes today. a replica is kept at the Fleet Air Arm museum in England, but it is assembled from parts from two aircraft and a steel tube frame, which is not original. another replica is under construction in Norway according to original drawings. a third will also be under construction in the United States
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