Below is an extract from David Hassard’s ‘The Kingston Aviation Story’ published weekly at The statistics are astonishing.
    There were no new orders in October for ‘Camels’ or ‘Dolphins’ leaving their total orders at 6,642 and 2,154. There have been additional orders for 300 ‘Dragons’ on Sopwith and 880 ‘Snipes’ on five contractors and now on 1st November orders are placed on ten contractors for another 950 ‘Snipes’, 600 ‘Salamanders’ and 500 ‘Dragons’. This underlines the commitment to these Sopwith types as the RAF’s future air-cooled engined fighters along with the Dragonfly-engined Nieuport Nighthawk which has now been selected for production in preference to the Sopwith ‘Snark’ and ‘Snapper’ prototypes which are still awaiting engines.

Sopwith In October 1918

Toptop toptop

The ‘Snipe’ family’s 6,722 order total on Sopwith and 20 contractors now just exceeds the total ‘Camel’ orders and comprises 4,486 ‘Snipes’, 1,406 ‘Salamanders’ and 830 ‘Dragons’. Those contractors include established aircraft companies: Air Navigation, Boulton & Paul, British Caudron, Graham White & Nieuport plus National Aircraft Factories at Croydon and Liverpool, established ‘Camel’ suppliers March Jones & Cribb, Portholme and Ruston Proctor as well as new Sopwith contractors Barclay Curle, Coventry Ordnance Works, Garrett, Glendower, Gloucestershire Aircraft, Harris, Kingsbury Aviation, Napier, Palladium Autocars, Ransome, and Wolseley Motors.
    In just over two years since August 1916 the number of companies building aircraft in Britain has swollen from 48 to 122 and the number of employees from 22,000 to 112,000 including dilutees of which 34,000 are women and 8,000 boys. There are also now a surprising 323 companies making aircraft engines, 46 making propellers, 321 making other “aero-parts” and 707 supplying materials. In total these 1,529 companies are employing 347,000 people.
    Compared with the first report of “RAF Aircraft on Charge” dated 31st May 1918, the 30th October report lists an extra 819 ‘F1 Camels’ now 2,548 despite the attrition and 129 ‘2F1 Ships Camels’. There are 363 more ‘Dolphins’ now 1,055 plus 264 ‘Snipes’, 37 ‘Salamanders’ and 69 ‘Cuckoos’. 128 ‘Strutters’ are listed including 57 ‘Ships Strutters’ mostly built from imported French built machines, ‘Pups’ are down 56 at 881, ‘Baby’ floatplanes are down 64 to 76 whilst the last 11 Triplanes have been deleted. By engine type the 2,548 ‘F1 Camels’ are 15% Bentley BR1, 53% Clerget plus 32% Le Rhône or Gnome Monosoupape, twice the May 1918 proportion of these. All 129 ‘2F1 Ships Camels’ are Bentley BR1 powered. The total of 5,188 Sopwith machines is 23% of the RAF’s 22,171 aircraft on charge and easily outnumbers any other commercial design team, the next largest being Airco with 3,967 De Haviland types.
    Sopwith aircraft account for 30% of the 3,522 aircraft on the front line with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France and 69% of their single-seat fighters, the rest being SE5s. Sopwith aircraft account for 25% of the 1,281 aircraft with the Royal Navy including all 265 of their wheeled "Ships Aeroplanes”.
    The distribution of Sopwith machines is still wide ranging: BEF Western Front & Independent Bomber Force (1,110), Grand Fleet & Northern Patrols (305), Home Defence (216), other UK Squadrons (744), UK Training Units (287), Italy (76), Mediterranean (154), Egypt (58), Salonica & Mesopotamia (22) plus 100 at Technical Development Establishments, 39 at “Sundry Units”, 413 at Aircraft Acceptance Parks, 221 waiting shipment/in transit and 181 in repair depots. Another 1,406 are in store comprising 34 ‘Strutters’, 348 ‘Pups’, 371 ‘Camels’, 1 ‘Salamander’ and 652 ‘Dolphins’. Whilst the ‘Camels’ in store are less than one month’s output, the large number of ‘Dolphins’ reflects the success in ramping up aircraft production but less success with the production of suitable engines and training enough new personnel to support the planned rapid increase in RAF squadrons.