Newsletter 13
Summer 2006
Updated on 25May2006
Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Contents Hawker Association

Aviation Heritage Project
Camm Bust for RAF Club
Crescent Wing More
Crescent Wing Even More
Harrier News
Hawk - First Delivery
Hawk News
Joe Turner
People News
RAF Harrier Story
Sopwith Catalogue
Test Flying the Hunter
Tripartite Squadron
Walter John Biggs
Wartime Project Office
Amongst the late John Godden's papers Jan White found a copy of the first Sopwith Aviation Co. catalogue, published, it would appear, in 1912. Reproduced below is the text in all its charming period completeness...
Sopwith Aviation Co.
Under the direction of Mr T.O.M. Sopwith
General Manager - Mr R.O. Carey
Works Manager  - Mr F Sigrist

With the issue of this the first Catalogue of the Sopwith Aviation Company, it would not be amiss to give a brief description of the Company's works at Kingston-on Thames, and to summarize the ideas and intentions of the founder, Mr T.O.M. Sopwith.

Strength With Efficiency

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Mr Sopwith's fame as an aviator is so wide-spread, that it is hardly necessary to remind the public that he is one of the few English aviators who have continued to fly successfully without mishap on many types of machine, since first taking his pilot certificate in November, 1910. A brief summary of his aviation career will be of interest, as showing the enormous amount of practical experience he is able to place at the disposal of the Company's customers. The pilot certificate aforementioned was taken by him on a Monday, and the following Saturday he put up a then English duration and distance record of 107 miles, in 3 hours 12 minutes. His performance of note was his historic flight from the Royal Aero Club ground at Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, to Beaumont in Belgium, this being also his first cross country flight, and constituted a world's record for long distance cross country flight at that date. This performance secured the £4,000 Baron de Forest Prize.
In 1911 he sailed for America, taking with him both a Monoplane and a Biplane, and with these machines made a tour of the States, exhibitions being given in all the principal Cities of the Eastern States, including New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Columbus. He also competed at aviation meetings held in these Cities, and secured the largest share of the prize money. Whilst there, he gained vast experience in the handling and construction of various types of Aeroplanes - both American and European.
On his return to England in the Autumn of 1911 he took up construction seriously at Brooklands Aerodrome. The first machine turned out from his sheds was a Tractor Biplane engined with a 70 h.p. Gnome engine. This proved such an instantaneous success that he decided to specialise in this type of plane and it was the forerunner of the present type of Sopwith Tractor Biplane. The next machine turned out of the same type gave great satisfaction to the purchasers, and carried a pilot and three passengers on its first flight.
Another great success was a biplane of a different design, carrying an All British A.B.C. engine of only 40 h.p., and with this machine a first place was in 1912 secured in every competition for which it was entered, numbering twelve in all. It was on this machine that one of the Company's pilots (Mr.H.G.Hawker) won the Michelin Long Distance Competition for All British machines in 1912, and at the same time established the present British Duration Record by remaining in the air 8 hours 23 minutes.
Enough has been said to show the high degree of success Mr. Sopwith has met with in the past, and all the experience then gained is now at the disposal of the Company's customers. Mr. Sopwith will personally superintend the construction of the machines and will test them when finished.
The Works Manager (Mr.F.Sigrist) is an engineer of the highest capabilities. He has been with Mr. Sopwith for the past four years, and has had extensive practical experience, which he has gained while engaged at nearly all the aviation meetings and competitions which have been held in England, and also at some of the largest meetings held in the United States.
All work and material put into the machines will be of the highest quality only, and the Company's motto - "Strength with Efficiency" - is to be the keynote of their construction. In this connection it is as well to say at once that the Company will not adopt that policy of cutting prices which is so inimical to good work. It is absolutely impossible to maintain the highest standard of construction if the prices do not admit of the very best materials being used and of the most skilled workmen being employed.
The new works are situate within a stone's throw of Kingston Station. They have a floor area of 30,000 square feet and contain the latest and most up-to-date wood and metal working machines driven by Electric Power.
The capacity for output is such that the Company are prepared to undertake large orders at a moment's notice, and to complete them in stated time, and here again attention must be drawn to a point of the highest importance, i.e., Punctuality of Delivery. This has always been and will continue to be made a speciality.
The Company will specialise in two types of machines - the Bat-Boat Hydro- Aeroplane, and the Tractor-Biplane, but they are at the same time prepared to construct any type of Hydro-Aeroplane, Biplane or Monoplane, as may be required by their customers, and quotations will readily be given for any of these types.
    Although, as previously stated, it is not the intention of the Company to cut prices, they will always be prepared to make special quotations when the order is for more than one machine. A brief description of some of the Company's construction features will be found at the end of this Catalogue.
In conclusion, it is hoped that intending customers will visit the Works, and see for themselves the close attention which is being given to ensure the carrying out of the Company' motto - "Strength with Efficiency."

(Then follow the Specifications, abbreviated below, and prices for the aeroplanes...)
    90 h.p. Bat Boat Hydro-Aeroplane (two-seater pusher biplane). Weight (light) 1,200 lbs., useful load 500 lbs., speed 42 - 65 m.p.h., motor 90 h.p Austrian Daimler. Price complete £1,500.
    80 h.p. Tractor Biplane (three-seater). Weight (light) 1,000 lbs., useful load 750 lbs., speed 40 - 70 m.p.h., motor 80 h.p.         Gnome. Price complete £1,185.
   50 h.p. School Tractor Biplane (two-seater). Price complete £985.
    80 h.p. Scout (single-seater tractor biplane). Weight (light) 750 lbs., useful load 390 lbs., speed 50 - 74 m.p.h., motor 80 h.p.         Gnome. Price complete £1,085.
    70 h.p. Armoured Warplane (two-seater pusher biplane). Weight (light) 1,200 lbs., useful load 800 lbs., speed 36 - 55 m.p.h.,         motor 70 h.p. Renault. Price complete £1,250. Gun extra.
Special Points in the Sopwith Construction.
THE SOPWITH AEROPLANES owe much of their great strength to the steel clips by which the various parts are united. In the case of other machines where a wooden member has given way the break has nearly always occurred at a point where the wood has been pierced. By the Sopwith method of construction, where the piercing of a spar is unavoidable, a steel socket is used which entirely encases the pierced member and prevents the slightest chance of splitting.
In the construction of the main planes, the sockets which hold the stanchions in position are built right round the main spars. As the clips also form the anchorage for the load wires, the load is not only distributed over quite a considerable portion of the spar, but the weight is taken from beneath the spar, or from above in the case of the upper plane.
All the flight wires are of stranded steel cable, and even this is doubled in the case of the load wires. Further the warping cable is in one length, running from one wing-tip over specially designed gunmetal pulleys through the fuselage and across to the other wing-tip. The cable which actuates the warp is quite separate from this and is joined on to the main cable.
The main plane spars and most of the compression struts in the machines are built up with ash cores and hollow spruce sides, glued together under great pressure and firmly bound, the whole is then given four coats of the best hard varnish.
The ribs of the planes are made from a very elastic wood, giving greater ease of warp. It is possible to twist one of the ribs through an angle of over 90 degrees and on being released it regains its normal shape.
The Sopwith undercarriage is a complete unit, the machine resting on the wheels and the heels of the skids. Upturned tips to the skids have been replaced by wheels, as a broken skid often flies into the propeller and breaks it, while the stump may catch a small hillock and wreck the whole machine. A tail-skid is fitted to take the weight when the machine is at rest.
The design of the undercarriage gives great strength and flexibility, combined with a minimum of head-resistance. A neat point is the streamlining of the axle. When in the air, the axle drops into a groove in a distance piece of stream-line section.
The windows are of non-inflammable material, which is pliable and practically unbreakable. Another refinement is the upturned lip in front of the pilot's and passenger's seats; this slight lip is sufficient to throw the slipstream up and over the heads of the occupants.
The tail unit is built largely of steel tubing as are also the tips of the planes, and the trailing edge of the main planes.
One hears much of the compression of the fuselage at the point where the planes are attached. The main spars of the Sopwith machines are continued to the centre of the body, where they butt together and are joined by steel plates. Thus there is no strain whatever on the fuselage; a saving in weight is also effected by this method of construction, as the body does not need to be reinforced to such a great extent as in machines in which the spars fit into sockets in the fuselage, but do not meet in the centre.
It will be noted that the above remarks deal more specially with the 80 h.p. Tractor- Biplane. The other machines are designed on exactly similar principles of construction, and it is always the endeavour of the firm to justify in this respect its motto of "STRENGTH WITH EFFICIENCY," and be it noted that STRENGTH comes first.