The Sopwith Triplane had a short, but dramatic impact on the aerial war over the Western Front in 1917. It was not faster nor as heavily armed as the opposing Albatroses, or Halberstadts but it had an excellent rate of climb and was highly manoeuverable. In WWI agility was as important as speeds especially with an experienced pilot. Ray Collishaw's Black Flight (a replica of one is pictured above at the Aero Space Museum in Calgary, Alberta) and Manfred von Richthofen showed this to be true with their great successes in triplanes, as they should have been significantly out powered and out gunned by opposing aircraft. All Sopwith Triplanes were delivered to the RNAS in exchange for Camels to the RFC. At first glance the RFC should have got the better deal, but Naval 10 and the Black Flight showed this was not to be. Fokker designed the Dr. 1 (Dreidecker) after the Sopwith.
The Sopwith Triplane was powered by a 130-hp Clerget 9B rotary engine that gave it a maximum speed of only 113 mph. But it had a climb rate of 1,200 ft/min, a ceiling of 20,500 ft. and a range of 280 miles. It was considered to be under armed with only a single Vickers 0.303 firing forward through the propellor.
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