Sopwith Dolphin

Manufacturer: British Sopwith Aviation Co. / Britain / 1917
Number Built: 1532

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Engine V8 Hispano-Suiza 8Ba
Power (h.p.): 200
Height (mm): 2600
Length (mm): 6700
Wing span (mm): 10000
Wing surface (sq.m.): 24.5
Empty weight (kg): 436
Takeoff weight (kg): 893
Fuel capacity (l): 123
Oil capacity (l): 18
Climb rate
1000 m — 3 min. 16 sec.
2000 m — 6 min. 37 sec.
3000 m — 10 min. 48 sec.
4000 m — 16 min. 8 sec.
5000 m — 23 min. 25 sec.
Maximum airspeed
(IAS: km/h)
sea level — 200
1000 m — 189
2000 m — 178
3000 m — 167
4000 m — 156
5000 m — 144
Service ceiling (m) 6500
(h.,min.) at 1000m
combat — 1 h. 40 min.
cruise — 3 h. 20 min.
Armament 2хVickers Mk.I 7.69mm, 500 rounds per barrel.
Bomb load 36 kg

The plane was designed by British Sopwith Aviation Co. Taking into account the flaws of Sopwith Camel: bad forward and up visibility, difficulties of handling the plane with rotary engine the engineers were given a task to built a fighter with inline engine. Design featured compact lay-out of pilot seating, fuel tanks, machineguns and engine. Radiators were moved to the sides of the fuselage behind the cockpit. Pilot head was in the hatch of the top wing. First trial flight was made in May 1917. Along the head factory several others were manufacturing it: Darracq, Hooper, SACA. By the end of the war 1532 planes were built.

First combat testing was carried out by British N56 squadron June 13 1917. Several design improvements followed. In January 1918 N19 squadron received first examples. Dolphin was used to engage enemy fighters and balloons, especially at high altitudes, where it was superior to Sopwith Camel. It was also used to bomb and strafe ground targets.

Pilots noted good balance of controls, perfect visibility up and forward, but lower semi-sphere was hidden by lower wings and engine cowling. Being as maneuverable as Sopwith Camel, but with speed and climb rate equal to S.E. 5a the plane was a formidable opponent. Pilots often complained about crumpled cockpit and tendency to nose-over at harsh landings. For a short period of time French and American pilots flew these aircraft. It took part in battles over the Western front.

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