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Designed and built for the British Admiralty, the Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter (which took its name from the arrangement of the upper wing center section - "one-and-a-half" (long and short) pairs of cabane struts supporting the top wing) was the first true two-seat fighter to enter service and actually the first British airplane armed with synchronised machine gun. Powered by a 110 hp or 130 hp Clerget rotary engine, the aircraft was armed with a fixed synchronized forward firing Vickers .303 machine gun and a single (sometimes dowble) Lewis.303 machine gun in the rear cockpit. The 1 1/2 Strutter entered service with both the RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps.
The prototype two-seater flew in December 1915. Deliveries of the "Strutter" into frontline units began around may of 1916, with the first machines delivered having no fixed forward gun. It is believed that these aircraft were delivered without the forward gun due to a shortage of Vickers.303 machine guns because of Army demands for the weapons. Some early production aircraft had the observer's.303 Lewis gun mounted on a cranked pillar mounting; these were later replaced by the "Eteve" mounting and eventually by the standard Scarff No.2 ring mount.
A small number were used for Home Defense, with the rear cockpits faired over. These aircraft were armed with twin Lewis guns on Foster mountings above the upper wing center section. A few others were converted in the field to be flown from the observer's cockpit.
The RNAS operated 1 1/2 Strutters from ships as reconnaissance and spotter aircraft. The United States Army Air Service flew the 1 1/2 Strutter, assigning them to the 88th, 90th and 99th Aero Squadrons between May and July of 1918. Still others were flown by the American Expeditionary Force as trainers.
Total numbers built by British manufacturers where 1282 build.
Strutter was also built in France in a number of different variants including two seat fighter-reconnaissance aircraft single seat bomber and two seat bomber. French construction totaled some 4,500 aircraft and continued until April of 1918.
Another variant where "Type 9700" (Stutter B) - a single seater bomber version of Strutter with increased fuel load and bombs inside of the fuselage bomb bay, with 4 x 65lb bombs.