Was the Sopwith Snipe An Improvement Over the Sopwith Camel?
An issue in World War I aviation history which gets revisited occasionally is the question of the Sopwith Snipe as successor to the Sopwith Camel. In particular one prominent World War I Aviation historian has put forward that the Sopwith Snipe was not up to 1918 or 1919 standards for performance and would have resulted in the Sopwith Snipe Squadrons failing operationally through 1919. The alternative viewpoint is that the Sopwith Snipe allowed the allied squadrons to meet the German fighters and in particular the Fokker DVII scout on equal terms at heights where the Sopwith Camel was outclassed.
The Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel was a dogfighter in the same manner that the modern General Dynamics F16 Fighting Falcon is. The Sopwith Camel was inherently unstable with the weight of the engine, the pilot, the twin machine guns and the fuel in a small area around the center of gravity. To add to this the rotary engine's torque meant that the aircraft turned rapidly to the right. The P-factor of the big, slow rotating propeller caused the nose of the Camel in right turns to dip and in left hand turns raise the nose. The Sopwith Camel like most Sopwith designs was also blessed with an undersized rudder which gave little lateral authority to the pilot. In the hands of a skilled pilot, this instability of the Sopwith Camel meant it was a highly maneuverable aircraft only rivaled by the famed "Red Barons" aircraft, the Fokker Dr.I Triplane.
The Sopwith Camel "Cadet Killer"
The legend of the Sopwith Camel is that it killed as many trainees as it did score victories over opposition aircraft. Arthur Cobby was one trainee pilot that achieved ace status, he recorded his first flight of the Sopwith Camel in his memoirs;
"... and after several flights in a [Sopwith] Pup, I was sent off in the rather frightening Camel. The machine had a bad name as so many fellows, even experienced pilots managed to get piled up in them. And you could not be trained by anyone else in their tricks, only by word of mouth on the ground as they were single seaters. ..... So I duly went off in one, and the experience was strange. It climbed unusually fast without my help. Not only that but I seemed to be going straight ahead and the ground passed by slightly sideways, until some time later the aerodrome appeared in front of me again, so I glided in and landed. Longton told me I just went slowly round in a large circle in a flat turn, and he also corrected the foot pressure fault that caused it."
Many modern historians believe the main cause of accidents was the tail heavy nature of the Sopwith Camel which they were rigged in. As the Camel left the ground it required a fuel mixture adjustment, many inexperienced pilots would look down to adjust mixture and the tail heavy nature of the Sopwith Camel would cause it to climb to a stall. The aircraft would then spin into the ground, possibly killing its pilot. Many of the photos of crashes which seemed to be a favorite subject for servicemen with cameras show the wings twisted around the fuselage which suggests a spin over a crash.
In the Hands of an Ace
Once a pilot had mastered the flight characteristics of the Camel, the quirks were put to good use in combat. Aces disproportionately contribute to the Sopwith Camel's victory totals. One area the Camel lacked was in speed, the Australian ace Edgar McCloughry wrote of the Camel's lack of speed;
"I at once turned but they did not wait, one of the horrible characteristics of a camel being, as I will describe later, that it is unable to catch any other machine with the exception of the Fokker Triplane on the level."
"One word on the 'Camel': There is not one pilot in the squadron who would not argue to the end for a Camel. Although slow, she could get around anything, also one could not run away from anything, which rather aimed for success."
Which is a polite way of saying it was unable to outrun anything and a Sopwith Camel pilot if cornered or trapped would have to fight his way out of the situation or engagement. Arthur Cobby another Australian ace also commented on the inability of the Sopwith Camel to catch and engage enemy aircraft;
"In this manner we accounted for a few of the enemy, but they could dive faster than our Camels. Unless we got close to them early in their dive, they would just keep on diving and so get away. ... If we were only able to encourage the enemy to get in a dogfight, things were easy, as a Camel could out maneuver anything."
It should be noted that different allied air forces received Sopwith Camels with different engines. The Royal Naval Air Service received Camels with 150 hp Bentleys, while the Royal Flying Corps, Australian Flying Corps and United States Air Services received 130-140 Hp Clergets of different strokes. The RNAS definitely got the best engines and the highest performing Sopwith Camels of the air services which used it operationally.
The SE5a and Spad XIII Energy Fighters
The allied contemporaries to the Sopwith Camel in scout and fighter design where the British SE5a and the French Spad XIII. The SE5a rivaled the Camel in the number of British squadrons which used the aircraft operationally, further the SE5a was used by the Australian Flying Corps and the United States Air Service as well as the British Flying Services. The main fighter of L'Aeronautique Militaire and the United States Air Service was the Spad XIII. Both the SE5a and Spad XIII were developments of 1916 designs like the Camel was. However the SE5a and Spad both used the Hispano-Suiza engine which was a water cooled V8.
The Hispano Suiza was a powerful water cooled engine of Spanish design which in 1916 was producing 200 hp in comparison to the Mercedes 160 hp. Even in 1918, the high compression BMW engines which were prized by the Luftstreitkrafte were 185 hp. This gave the allied energy fighters a huge advantage[Table 1]. The experienced SE5a and Spad pilots told new pilots not to dogfight with Fokker Triplanes, instead the pilot would get height on the Triplane and then dive through it firing and then climb above for another run. This is also commonly known as energy fighting or boom and zoom tactics.
The Sopwith Camel, like its predecessors from the Sopwith factories, used a rotary engine. The rotary engine was an extremely lightweight solution as it was air cooled. The downside, which became a benefit in the Sopwith Camel, was the rotary engine rotated with all cylinders spinning at the same rpm as the propeller adding the handling of the engines rotational torque to the aircraft's stability. The other component of a rotary engine was that it was a complete loss system with the oil being mixed with the petrol as part of the combustion process. In World War I the best lubricant was Castor Oil in rotary engines. A common myth is that the pilots all got the runs from consuming the castor oil. This doesn't seem to be the case from historical records or modern empirical observations.
After the shock of Bloody April in 1917 when the German Albatros Scout wreaked havoc on the British Front, the British re-organized themselves into Wing formations and equipped their squadrons with aircraft such as the SE5a and Camel. The French were less effected by Bloody April as their aircraft weren't as obsolete as the BE and FE aircraft the British were flying in large numbers. Plus throughout the war the French aviation forces enjoyed large numerical advantage due to the sheer size and the innovation of the French aviation industries. The United States Air Service organized themselves in the French manner, having superiority of numbers locally but the USAS did not adopt the highly aggressive British doctrine of engaging the Luftstreitkrafte deep in German airspace. The Luftstreitkrafte organizing into Jadgdeschwaders to obtain local air superiority required the British to re-organize their local forces into Wings to maintain numerical superiority along with the British offensive doctrine.
The Sopwith Snipe Specification
It was in this environment the British Air Board wrote the specification for the Type 1.a in 1917 for what would become the Sopwith Snipe. The type 1.a specification required that the aircraft would be capable of 135 mph at 15,000 ft and a climb rate of not greater than 10 minutes between 10,000 feet and 20,000 feet. The specification was obviously for a scout aircraft to replace the Sopwith Camel and RAF SE5a.
In 1916 Sopwith had achieved a quantum jump between generations of fighters in the Sopwith Pup to the Sopwith Camel. It is possible they assumed that their next generation of rotary fighter would have the same jump in performance, subsequently they designed a rotary engined fighter with the 230 hp Bentley that was typical to Sopwith designs in having little rudder authority and being tail heavy. The problem was that the Sopwith Snipe wasn't the same level of increase in performance as the Camel over the Pup. Fortunately its main competitor which was to replace the SE5a, the Martinsyde Buzzard, a 400 hp energy fighter was facing similar engine development difficulties. It originally was assumed that the Sopwith Snipe would be powered by the 320 hp ABC Dragonfly radial but the Dragonfly was a failure as an engine and was not put into production.
The Sopwith Snipe went through numerous revisions before being put into production for operational deliveries. Its rudder surface area was increased as were the tailplanes, and the ailerons were balanced to give greater roll control. However as the Camel was having difficulty with the new Fokker DVII scouts the Sopwith Snipe was rushed into production and the initial operational squadrons received the Snipes with undersized rudders and unbalanced ailerons.
The Sopwith Camel Outclassed by the Fokker DVII
The Sopwith Camel in 1918 was outclassed once it met the Fokker DVII at height. The Fokker DVII was a remarkable aviation design for its time incorporating the thick airfoil design which gave the Fokker DVII stable stall capabilities and allowed average pilots to fly closer to the edge of the flying envelope. In comparison the Camel, SE5a and Spad had very thin airfoils in an attempt to maximize speed. The Spad in particular was known for dropping out of the sky once it lost airspeed, in the words of the American Ace Ray Brooks, "It flew like a brick". This was due to the Spad's thin airfoil's low tolerance for lack of airflow across it. The Sopwith Camel with it's concentrated weight and torque heavy rotary engine was more likely to stall and spin when it exceeded it's flight envelope, whereas the Spad fell out of the air. Spads, unlike most other aircraft of the time had to be landed under power due to its high stall speed.
The Fokker DVII's thick airfoil was one of the great engineering advances in aviation in World War I and gave the DVII an advantage at height despite its underpowered 160 hp BMW and Mercedes engines. Later in the Fokker DVII's operational life it received high compression 185 horsepower engines which gave it an even greater advantage at heights greater than 12,000 feet. At this height the SE5as and Spads were the only aircraft capable of competing with the Fokker DVII on an equal level. The Sopwith Camel was outclassed by the DVII, Arthur Cobby related the problems faced;
"We had not come into contact with it [Fokker DVII] to any extent as most of our patrol work was being done at lower altitude, but our fellow Australians in No.2 [No.2 Sqn Australian Flying Corps] were continually meeting them. Their SE5a's could get to greater heights than our Camels, which were at their best up to about 12,000 ft. We could get much higher of course, but the performance fell off rapidly above this level, and against the new Fokker, would put up an indifferent show. Later on we did meet them up higher and managed by sheer hard flying to hold our own, but unless one was an exceptional good pilot the odds were definitely not good."
Arthur Cobby was a member of 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps which was one of three squadrons to be re-equipped with the Sopwith Snipe before the armistice. The other two squadrons were 43 squadron Royal Air Force and 208 Squadron Royal Air Force. No. 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps was re-equipped with the Sopwith Snipe on the 4th of October 1918, giving just over one month of operations with Sopwith Snipe before the armistice. The squadron is also the best to determine the effectiveness of the Sopwith Camel in comparison to the Sopwith Snipe as they produced several leading Camel and Snipe aces and through 1918 and where the highest averaging Sopwith Camel squadron on the Northern Front in terms of victories per month.
The Snipe Replaces the Camel at 4 Squadron AFC
The Sopwith Snipe was met in No.4 Squadron with approval, through many of the pilots were sad to give up the quirks of the Sopwith Camel which had made them such devastating dogfighters. The pilots were aware of the benefits of the Sopwith Snipe over the Camel. The C Flight commander John "Jack" Wright wrote;
"Here, 4th Sqd. exchanged its Camels for Sopwith 'Snipes', then the last word on the British side in Scout and Fighter design. It was really a larger edition of the 'Camel', but without the 'hump' which gave the Camel its name. Powered with 200 hp Bentley Rotary engines ( which developed 260 hp at 1400 revs ) they had a ceiling of 19000 feet and a top speed of about 127 mph, flying level with a war load. This gave them a slight advantage in speed over the Fokker, but we still could not get as high as the Fokkers. They were of slightly more robust construction than the Camel, but were a little less maneuverable. However. their rate of climb was better than the Camel, a ceiling of 15000 feet could be reached in 30 minutes, a Camel took upwards of 45 minutes."
Notice Wright's statement in claiming the Snipe was unable to get to the same height as the Fokker DVII's. This is a result of the DVII's thick airfoil and inline engine design giving it greater high altitude performance. The rotary engines had great difficulty as height increased because of the density of oxygen reducing with altitude. An oxygen starved rotary was an inefficient engine. Wright however mentioned the quantitative improvements the Snipe gave over the Camel particularly in respect to climb. The ability to get to height quickly before crossing the front lines meant greater time could be spent in an offensive patrol in German airspace.
The addition of the Sopwith Snipes to 80 Wing RAF which 4 Squadron Australian Flying Corps was a part of, entailed 80 Wing changing it's wing sweep formations. Previously the Wing had placed either the SE5a aircraft of No.2 Sqn AFC or No.92 Sqn RAF[Table 3] in the highest position of the sweep with the Sopwith Camels of No.4 Sqn AFC and No.43 Sqn RAF in the lowest positions. With the Sopwith Snipe 4 Sqn AFC became the highest component of the sweep formation[Table 4] being utilized in a role the Sopwith Camel was unable to fulfill.
Factory Performance Figures vs Field Observation
One of the common derogatory comments against the Sopwith Snipe is that it was offered 1917 performance in late 1918. This is true when compared to allied fighters, the SE5a and Spad were capable of 140 mph in 1916 while the Snipe was only good for 120-130 mph in late 1918. In 1919 the Martinsyde Buzzard with it's 400 hp engine would have been even faster, most likely topping 150 mph. However the Sopwith Snipe was not designed to be an energy fighter, it was a dogfighter, plus the German aircraft it was facing were slower than the Sopwith Snipe. Due to German industry lacking resources from the Royal Navy's blockade, no German aircraft would have improved in their speed capability significantly in 1919.
The Fokker DVII the powerful BMW 185 hp engine was capable of 122 mph[Table 1], the Fokker DVIII monoplane was capable of 115 mph at sea level which would suggest a performance of under 100 mph at height. The DVIII's performance was in many respects no better than the Sopwith Camel or Fokker Triplane. The Albatros DV and Pfalz DXII were both only capable of 110 to 120 mph. The Sopwith Snipe in comparison had a published performance figure of 120 mph at 10,000 feet which places the speed performance of the Sopwith Snipe in a similar area to the Snipe's German opponents. It is obvious though from these figures the speed advantage the SE5a, Spad and the Italian Ansaldo Ballila pilots enjoyed over their opposition.
It is worth reviewing the Sopwith Camel's published speed results. The trials for the Sopwith Camel was done with an 150 hp Bentley of which only the Royal Naval Air Service squadrons were equipped. The RAF, AFC and USAS squadrons equipped with the Sopwith Camel had 130 or 140 hp Clergets. The Bentley trials gave the Camel a top speed of 114 mph at 15,000 feet while the Snipe at the same height had a speed of 113 mph. However this statistic is meaningless as the Sopwith Camel was obsolete in comparison to the Fokker DVII above 12,000 feet. As Cobby wrote the performance of the Sopwith Camel deteriorated rapidly from that height on. George Jones another Australian wrote in a post-war staff college report;
"The Squadron[4 Sqn AFC] was equipped, in the first instance, with Clerget Camels and it continued to use this type until eight weeks before the Armistice, when it was re-equipped with Sopwith Snipe. It was, I believe, the second Squadron to receive them, and is therefore one of the few Squadrons which enjoyed their superiority over the Fokker D7."
This leaves little doubt that the pilots in the squadron believed from their experiences that the Sopwith Snipe was superior to the Fokker whereas pilots in the same squadron considered the Sopwith Camel obsolete in a dogfight with a Fokker above 12,000 feet.
After the war 4 Sqn AFC served in Cologne as part of the occupational forces which were testing German technologies against their own. John Wright relates one conversation he had with a German pilot at Bickendorff;
"While at Bickendorff in Cologne where 14 other British Squadrons were stationed as part of the Occupational Forces, the pilots were testing their equipment against captured German equipment, Wright wrote; "One German pilot, swaggering with three decorations which had been awarded him for his skill in shooting down a number of British machines, on viewing for the first time this aerial exhibition of British machines at Bickendorff, asked open-mouthed the name of the type of 'plane with which 4 Sqn was equipped. When informed they were Sopwith Snipes, he remarked with heart felt emphasis; 'I thank God I did not meet any of them before the Armistice.'""
The State of Testing and Quality Control
The testing figures for all the World War I aircraft can be doubted as to their accuracy, they were at best an honest attempt to obtain quantitative data from an industry that, while high tech for its era, was still a craftsman's industry that produced one off products. Quality Control was by visual inspection with jigs and templates which, while rigorous, still allowed lemons out of the factories and gave high variance to the machines which reached operations. As an example one squadron received an aircraft whose wings flexed. Naturally none of the pilots liked flying it. They stripped the aircraft down to discover that the aircraft's wing timbers were oil soaked. The squadron struck the aircraft off strength.
As the machines were simple construction of timber, wire and dope painted linen, it allowed for pilots to hot rod their aircraft as well. One naval pilot borrowed the aircraft of Robert Little and was shocked to see his landing speed to be 10 mph higher than normal, it turned out Little had lowered his seat to lower the center of gravity so that he could go into a dive faster. An aircraft that is 1000 lb, moving a 200 lb pilots location in the aircraft can change its flight characteristics significantly.
Of all the World War I qualitative tests it is my opinion that the speed figures for both the Sopwith Camel and Fokker Triplane are the most at odds with observations and writings of both pilots from World War I and modern replica pilots. The Sopwith Camel in particular was known for it's lack of speed. Comparing the Sopwith Snipe and Sopwith Camel purely on the basis of climb and speed data from the period paints an incomplete picture as the test data is in contradiction to the observations of the pilots who flew those aircraft in World War I.
There is one area of performance figure where the Sopwith Snipe did show its 1919 performance and that is in the area of Weight to Power ratio's. This is a figure which shows an aircraft's ability to accelerate which can be especially useful at the end of an energy draining maneuver as acceleration is what gets the aircraft it's speed back. The Sopwith Snipe had a weight to power ratio of 8.98Table 2 from 2020 lbs over 230 hp. In other words every horsepower was pulling 8.98 pounds of weight through the air. The Sopwith Camel had ratio of 10.77 for the 140 hp Clerget. Some other comparisons, the Spad had a ratio of 9.44,the SE5a had a ratio of 9.7, the Bristol Fighter a ratio of 10.18, the Fokker DVII a ratio of 10.48 and the Albatros D.Va a ratio of 11.47.
November 4th 1918. 4 Squadron AFC meets Jasta Boelcke
Where the Sopwith Camel was failing the allied forces was in combat with Fokker DVII aircraft at height. The Sopwith Snipe did solve this issue for the allied squadrons who were equipped with the Snipe. The Australian squadron in the final weeks of World War I claimed twenty-one aircraft Destroyed, one Balloon Destroyed and fifteen Out of Control. Of these thirty-seven victories, thirty-five of them were against Fokker DVII's. This suggests that from operational claims, the squadron enjoyed a superiority over the Fokker DVII. During that period of claims the squadron lost three pilots killed and three pilots as Prisoners Of War. Of those six losses, five of them occurred on one day.
November 4th was a very black day for 4 Squadron as they lost five pilots from their mess room in two offensive operations. Most references place the losses from the Australian squadron in two combats with the elite German fighter squadron, Jasta Boelcke who was active opposite the Australians. However of the six losses only three can be ascribed to Jasta Boelcke. Of the morning combats the losses of Lt Goodson and Lt Rhodes as POWs are both given to the German ace Karl Bolle, however both Australian pilots in the repatriation papers said they were shot down by German anti-aircraft fire. Goodson's in particular makes for remarkable reading;
"I was one of a patrol of four machines that left the aerodrome at Ennetieres at 9 am on the 4th of November 1918, led by 2/Lieut Cato, to do a line patrol. Whilst patrolling the line we were being shelled by anti-aircraft guns from the German artillery. When at 13,000 feet I was hit in my lateral controls and bottom of control lever. The machine immediately went into a left hand spin from which it did not recover. When at about 3,000 feet, I received two more direct hits under the right wing. I spun into the canal between two bridges in the centre of Tournai. One wing of the machine was carried away by the bridge and the machine became a total wreck on striking the water. I was pulled out of the canal by some German soldiers. I was wounded slightly by a piece of shell in the head and badly shaken by the fall of the machine."
Rhodes statement included;
"Whilst on patrol, East of Tournai, under orders of the Squadron Commander, strong enemy resistance, and heavy anti-aircraft gunfire was experienced. The engine of my machine was damaged, and became unworkable, whereupon I was attacked by a Fokker biplane and brought down in the vicinity of the town of Tournai."
This was most likely the Fokker DVII of Karl Bolle ensuring that Rhodes would be unable to return to his aerodrome. The afternoon battles offer good comparison as at the time 4 Sqn AFC was the leading squadron on the front in the British and Dominion forces and Jasta Boelcke was the leading German Jasta of the period. An 11.40 am flight of eleven Sopwith Snipe aircraft while escorting bombers backed to allied lines noticed they were being tailed by fifteen Fokker DVII aircraft. The Australian aircraft were led by Roy King a 26 victory ace, and the German aircraft by Karl Bolle a 36 victory ace.
Once the bombers were safely across the lines the Sopwith Snipes climbed to meet the Fokkers. In the dogfight three Australian pilots were killed. These weren't young inexperienced pilot's either, Baker had 12 victories, Palliser 8 victories and Sims 4 victories. Baker was a flight commander as well. Of these three losses the Bolle claimed two and the another Jasta Boelcke ace, Ernst Bormann claimed one which was his sixteenth victory. The Australians claimed three victories, two destroyed in flames and one out of control. The two destroyed claims came from the Australian aces Roy King and George Jones.
There is no correlation in German losses for the day however this is not unusual as the Luftstreitkrafte only recorded a loss if the pilot was wounded, killed or taken prisoner. A destroyed aircraft with a pilot that survived the crash would not be recorded even if the aircraft was written off. As 80% of the fighting took place over German territory gaining confirmation of a claim for Squadrons operating on the British Front was often impossible. Victories were awarded to pilots and observers if they were witnessed by another aircraft in the air or a ground observer witnessed the combat and outcome.
About the only conclusion from November 4th battles that can be made is 4 Squadron AFC had no peers on their front other than Jasta Boelcke. At that period of time Jasta Boelcke was the elite scout squadron in the German forces. There is also no doubting from 4 Squadrons operational record that in the last five weeks of the war they enjoyed superiority over the Fokker DVII in a manner that the Sopwith Camel was unable to give them.
The Sopwith Snipe allowed the Allied squadrons in late 1918 to face the Fokker DVII on equal terms above 12,000 feet where the Sopwith Camel was unable to match the DVII. The Sopwith Snipe was also devoid of the flying twitches and idiosyncrasies of the Sopwith Camel. The Sopwith Snipe was a much easier aircraft to fly. The Sopwith Snipe did not have the same problem in training squadrons as the Camel did nor did it have the same reputation as a cadet killer as the Camel.
The decision to put the Sopwith Snipe into production despite its troubled development cycle also speaks to the British Air Ministries distrust of energy fighters. The Sopwith Snipe became the main fighter for the RAF after the war with the cancelling of the Martinsyde Buzzard which was to be the next generation of energy fighter for the RAF. The Sopwith Snipe represented the final evolution of the lightweight rotary engined fighter and in essence was the last of its kind as World War I aviation technology.
 The term scout and fighter can be used interchangeably in reference to World War I aircraft.
 The Fokker Dr.I Triplane was well known for the aircraft pointing it's nose wherever it wanted. The three wings had no dihedral to give the aircraft lateral stability.
 L'Aeronautique Militaire is the French Army Aviation forces.
 The Luftstreitkrafte was the Germany Army Aviation forces from October 1916 onwards. Previous to October 1916 the German aviation forces were known as the Fliegertruppe.
 Bloody April was the month in which the aviation forces on the British front took horrendous losses. This was mainly due to the arrival of the Albatros DIII at the front and its matching with Manfred von Richthofen, better known as "The Red Baron" or "le Petit Rouge". Richthofen turned the ineffective Jasta 11 into a feared fighting force. Previous to Richthofens arrival Jasta 11 had not scored one "abschluss" or shoot down. In April 1917 the Jasta 11 shot down 96 aircraft predominantly preying on the obsolete BE and FE aircraft. This is a remarkable number of claims for any squadron of any aviation force in World War I.
 Jagdgeschwader was a German air wing consisting of four Jasta scout squadrons. The JG's were formed with the specific task of securing air superiority in critically important combat sectors. German Jasta's typically consisted of twelve aircraft of mixed type with the aces getting the best equipment. The Australian and British Squadrons and the French and United States Aero's were all equipped with the same type of aircraft. A British squadron typically consisted of eighteen aircraft though in some cases such as with one Australian squadron the complement of aircraft was as high as twenty-four.
 The Fokker DVII is often described as being able to stand on its tail without stalling. This is due to the DVII's thick airfoil design being able to maintain airflow across it without seperation. There is a Fokker DVII still flying at Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in New York State which performs stunts including this style of manoeuvre.
 Despite German engineering brilliance the engines produced by the aviation industry were unable to achieve the same horsepower levels as the British, French and Italian industries because of the Royal Naval blockade of important petroleum products such as high octane fuels and specialized lubricants. In 1918 the aviation industry had been given importance for raw materials over all but the submarine industries.
 The Royal Flying Corps and Royal Naval Air Service amalgamated into the Royal Air Force in 1918 to consolidate administration and command. One other reason was so that the RFC and RNAS weren't competing for the same aircraft in procurement.
 80 Wing RAF consisted of the scout squadrons 92 Sqn RAF with SE5as, 2 Sqn AFC with SE5as, 4 Sqn AFC with Sopwith Snipes, 43 Sqn RAF with Sopwith Camels and 54 Sqn with Sopwith Camels. The Wing also consisted of 88 Sqn RAF equipped with Bristol Fighters for observation duties and 103 Sqn RAF with DH9 aircraft for bombing duties.
 The Italian army aviation force, the Aviazone del Regio Escerito flew against the Austro-Hungarian forces, the Kaiserliche und Konigliche Luftfahrtruppen over the Alps. The KUK forces flew Austrian variants of the Albatros and the Italian pilots which flew Spads and Ansaldos enjoyed a speed advantage over the Austro-Hungarians.
 Australian Imperial Force members who had been taken POW were required to fill out a repatriation statement which described the events leading to their capture and their experiences while in captivity.
Supporting Table Data for the article.
This table has the information for an aircraft, its engine and its top speed at 10,000 ft and 15,000 ft. In many of these cases the aircraft version is the version with the most powerful engine. For instance in the table below the Sopwith Camel figures are for the 150 hp Bentley. Only the RNAS Squadrons received the 150 hp Camel. The RFC, AFC and USAS Squadrons received 140 hp or 130 hp Clerget engines Camels.
This table shows the power to weight ratio's for the aircraft. The power to weight ratio is the amount of weight each horsepower is pulling through the air. This ratio is a good indicator of an aircraft's ability to recover from an energy exhausting maneuver or its ability to accelerate. The Sopwith Snipe and Nieuport 28 do well in this comparison as they represent the epitome of the rotary engined scout by the British and French acviation industries.
This is the diagram from Lt Col Louis A. Strange's autobiography, "Recollections of an Airman" showing the Wing formation on the Harbourdin Aerodrome raid. This was before 4 Squadron AFC received Sopwith Snipe aircraft. In the raidthe SE5a aircraft and Bristol Fighter aircraft of 92 Sqn RAF and 88 Sqn RAF were instructed to remain high to ensure that the attacking aircraft on the lower heights of the raid were not interfered with by German scouts.
This is the diagram from Lt Col Louis A. Strange's autobiography, "Recollections of an Airman" showing the Wing formation which had been altered with the arrival of Sopwith Snipe aircraft to 4 Sqn AFC. This shows that the Wing thought the Snipe's the then superior fighter in the Wing as the Snipe's received the top cover role. Strange wrote some more on other advantages of this Wing formation;
"This Wing formation had the advantages of better downward view of position for those behind and of presenting a more difficult target for anti-aircraft."
This story originally appeared as the article Was The Sopwith Snipe An Improvement Over the Sopwith Camel? on kuro5hin.org.
Australian Flying Corps : A Complete History of the Australian Flying Corps