Sopwith Triplane (N6290)  [@ Shuttleworth Collection]

The Sopwith Triplane was a successful attempt by Sopwiths’s talented designer, Herbert Smith, to produce yet more manoeuvrability from the basic design that had produced the Sopwith Pup. The Triplane had exceptional agility and rate of climb, so much so that it had still not been outclassed when the Sopwith Camel began to replace it in the summer of 1917. So impressed were the enemy that no fewer than 14 German and Austrian manufactures, including Anthony Fokker, produced triplane designs of their own, but never quite succeeded in matching the Sopwith aircraft.

The aircraft was delivered to the collection in June 1990, powered by an original 130hp Clerget engine, and it should therefore be considered as a replica of a 1916 Sopwith Triplane. However, Sir Thomas Sopwith saw the Triplane while it was being constructed and claimed that it was so accurate that it could be considered as a one-off extension to his original production line. Therefore the Triplane is considered to be a “late production” example and carries the serial number 153, which is one more than the last Triplane constructed in 1917. This is reflected in manufacturer’s plate in the cockpit being No 153. In the photograph, the aircraft is in the colours of N6290 with the bold DIXIE 11 emblazoned on the forward fuselage. DIXIE served with No 8 (Naval) Squadron of the Royal Naval Air Service.