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WARPLANE: A Century of Military Aviation Advances
Parts One and Two: Wednesday, November 8th, 9-11pm   |   Parts Three and Four: Wednesday, November 15, 9-11pm

The Warplanes That Changed The World
The Sopwith Camel
Type: Multi-Role Fighter
Crew: One
Length: 18 feet, 9 inches
Wingspan: 28 feet
Range: 1.5 hours
Maximum Speed: 116 mph
Ceiling: 18,000 feet
Range: 300 miles
Armament: Two Vickers .303 caliber machine guns
Dates in Service: 1917-18 with Britain; extensive postwar usage by other air forces

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Named for the "hump" in front of the cockpit that held the plane's two Vickers machine guns, the Camel was the British Sopwith Aviation Company's successor to its popular but lightly armed "Pup" fighter. It first flew in 1916, and served in combat from June 1917 until after the end of the First World War. Roughly 5,500 were produced, a large number for the time, and in addition to its duties over the Western Front, it served as a naval fighter, light bomber and a rocket-armed zeppelin buster.

The Camel proved deadly to both the Germans and its own pilots. Although fast, powerful, maneuverable and heavily armed, the plane's nose-heavy weight distribution and, even worse, the gyroscopic effect created by the torque of its powerful rotary engine, made it a handful for a novice pilot. Although Camels are credited with more than 1,300 air-to-air victories (more than any other Allied fighter), almost as many Camel pilots were killed by in-flight accidents as were killed by enemy action. Nevertheless, it's considered to be one of the premier fighters of the First World War, and -- thanks to Snoopy's battles with the Red Baron -- probably the best-known.


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