The British Sopwith Camel F.1 shot down more enemy aircraft than any other World War I fighter. It was highly maneuverable and very difficult to defeat in a dogfight. Because of its tricky handling characteristics, however, more men lost their lives while learning to fly it than died while using it in combat.
The Camel first went into action in June 1917 with 70 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, and 4 Squadron, Royal Naval Air Service. Two U.S. Army Air Service squadrons, the 17th and 148th, flew the Camel in combat while assigned to British forces during the summer and fall of 1918. Such famous U.S. pilots as George Vaughn (America's second-ranking Air Service ace to survive the war), Elliot White Springs, Errol Zistel and Larry Callahan were members of the 17th and 148th. A third U.S. unit, the 185th Aero Squadron, used the Camel as a night fighter on the American Front during the last month of the war.
Although 5,490 Camels were produced, very few remain in existence today. USAF personnel built the Camel on display from the original WWI factory drawings, completing it in 1974. The aircraft is painted and marked as the Camel flown by Lt. George A. Vaughn Jr., 17th Aero Squadron.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Armament: Two Vickers .303-cal. machine guns Engine: Clerget rotary of 130 hp
Maximum speed: 112 mph Range: 300 miles Ceiling: 19,000 ft. Span: 28 ft. Length: 18 ft. 9 in. Height: 8 ft. 6 in. Weight: 1,482 lbs. maximum
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