The story of the Camel pilot and his aerobatic skills. The fragile early aircraft were not ideal aerobatic aircraft but developing combat tactics required a pilot to master his aircraft – Highly Recommended.
NAME: Camel Pilot Supreme, Captain D V Armstrong DFC FILE: R3012 AUTHOR: Annette Carson PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, Air World BINDING: hard back PRICE: £25.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Sopwith, Sopwith Camel, RFC, RNAS, WWI, World War I, World War 1, First world War, World War One, The Great War, 1914-1918, aircraft, tactics, flying skills, stability, rotary engine, rigging, acrobatics
IMAGE: B3012.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y46wtrv4 LINKS: DESCRIPTION: The story of the Camel pilot and his aerobatic skills. The fragile early aircraft were not ideal aerobatic aircraft but developing combat tactics required a pilot to master his aircraft – Highly Recommended. This book follows the pilot as he mastered his aircraft and became a supreme example of the aerobatic flyer. Today, it is difficult to imagine the pioneering challenges facing all pilots as they went to war a meer decade after the first tentative controlled flight by the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk. The author has captured this pioneering era during the first aerial war in history. Today, an aircraft can be designed and flown on a computer before the first metal is cut. Even when the first prototypes have flown and production begun, engineering computers 'fly' the design in simulated hours to calculate the number of hours that may be safely flown before servicing or replacement of components. Each new modification can be 'flown' before it is constructed and fitted and its impact on the weight, performance and fuel economy can be very accurately estimated. As this work is progressing, the pilots can 'fly' the aircraft on a detailed simulator where an error, or a need to change flight procedures, can be identified without killing the air crew. In 1914-1918, none of that was available. Often there were no manuals available, these would be written by the survivors, but there were some important differences between the British pilots of the Navy and the Army. The Army started WWI thinking of the aircraft as a more versatile observation balloon that could conduct reconnaissance over and behind the enemy lines. They were required to purchase aircraft from the Government Aircraft Factory that had followed on from the Army Balloon establishment at Farnborough. Pilots were not encouraged to experiment with their very frail machines, although the more pugnacious carried hunting rifles, pistols and bags of Mills bombs aloft to take aim at enemy aircraft and ground troops. Success with this primitive armament was not great and generally frowned on by Army commanders. In contrast, the Royal Navy followed its experiments with man-carrying kites from 1903 to 1908, with the inclusion of funds to build its first airship and, in 1911, to open the first military flying training school with the help of the Royal Aeronautical Society. It called for volunteers from the Royal Navy and the Royal Marines. The first batch of volunteers to learn to fly were then told to start work on developing tactics and functionality requirements so that aircraft could help the Fleet meet its war objectives of blockade, Fleet engagements, convoy escort, strategic warfare, anti- submarine warfare and communications. These officers compiled an impressive list of ways that aircraft could benefit the Fleet and of the weapons needed to fulfil these duties, including guns, bombs, depth bombs and torpedoes. They also identified the aiming and release mechanisms necessary to deliver bombs and torpedoes accurately. The Admiralty decided to ignore the Government Aircraft Factory and rely on proven naval contractors, such as Vickers and Beardmores and new developers such as Sopwith. They were rewarded with advanced and reliable designs that were also integrated weapons systems, flown by older officers than was common in the Army, these being Lieutenant and above who had already qualified in watch keeping and gunnery. The politicians interrupted the plans by putting all military aircraft under the War Office, but the Admiralty continued to purchase aircraft and train pilots, eventually winning back control of naval aviation a month before the outbreak of WWI. During those four weeks they successfully dropped the first torpedo to be launched from a plane in flight. In the opening months of war an RNAS pilot destroyed the first German Zeppelin by bombing it in flight and RNAS aircraft bombed German naval installations and carried messages to ships at sea, patrolled to spot German submarines and surface warships, while sending squadrons to France to strengthen the RFC aircraft at the Front. The RNAS became a a regular customer for Sopwith-designed aircraft, frequently giving RNAS pilots a technical edge over German aircraft. Sopwith basically developed by evolution. Their first aircraft were advanced and reliable, so it made sense to develop these designs into new designs,creating the Sopwith Pup single seat fighter from the two seat One and a Half Strutter, developing the Pup into the Sopwith Triplane, The Tripe, and then developing on into the superlative Sopwith Camel. The RNAS successes inevitably broke the GAF monopoly on supply to the Army RFC and their pilots were able to enjoy a significant upgrading of their equipment. The well-engineered Camel provided the opportunity to compete on at least equal terms with the best German machines, having lively performance and two rifle calibre medium machine guns in the 'hump', synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. Most Sopwith designs were equipped with the French Le Rhone rotary engine or British built versions. This meant that the aircraft had in effect a large flywheel at the front providing at full power considerable turning force like a gyroscope. The flying controls were light but very effective and the wire rigging allowed a pilot to have his machine optimized to suit his flying style. The result was an aircraft that today might be described as dynamically unstable in parts of its performance envelop as is common for modern fast jet combat aircraft. Today, a computer interprets the pilots wishes to control the aircraft on the edge of its aerodynamic capabilities. During the Great War, there were no electronic computers to assist the pilot and a number were lost because they never developed the skills to control the Camel. Armstrong was one of those who mastered his mount and fully exploited all of its capabilities. This made him one of the first great aerobatic pilots, able to make his aircraft perform daring and impossible manoeuvrers. The author has presented this story well, supporting the written text with many images through the body of the book, and included an impressive full colour photo-plate section.