Sopwith F.1 Camel - The iconic Sopwith Camel is probably the most famous of all First World War aircraft, if not by sight, then by name. Sopwith developed the Camel in late 1916 in an effort to overcome the single gun handicap suffered by their successful 80hp Pup and improve performance with a more powerful engine. The Sopwith F.1 Camel went into production in January 1917 powered by a 130hp Clerget 9B engine and aircraft began arriving at operational RNAS and RFC Squadrons in May and June 1917. Initial problems with performance above 10000ft, mostly attributed to the poor quality of British manufactured 130hp Clerget 9B engines, lead to various other engines eventually being used. The RNAS preferred the 150hp AR.1 (Admiralty Rotary 1), later renamed the BR.1 (Bentley Rotary 1), while the RFC preferred the 110hp Le Rhône 9J and, when they became available, the improved 140hp Clerget 9Bf. After it"s initial teething problems the Sopwith Camel proved to be a highly capable fighter and, along with the SE.5a and French SPADs, helped wrest air superiority back from the German Albatros fighters towards the end of 1917. The USAS arranged to equip 5 squadrons with Camels, many of which were powered by the 160hp Gnome 9N Monosoupape engine. Other nations to use the Camel were Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Canada. Around 5500 Camels were built by 9 manufacturers. Although rendered obsolete by the arrival of the 230hp Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe in late 1918 the Camel continued to serve though to the Armistice and was not officially declared obsolete by the RAF until late 1919.
Sopwith Camels were generally finished with PC10 (Protective Covering number 10) and PC12 upper surfaces with the undersides of the wings, tailplane and often the fuselage left CDL (Clear Doped Linen). Exterior wooden fuselage panels and cabane & interplane struts were usually given a dark brown varnish, although on some aircraft these were clearly painted. Metal cowlings were often left bare aluminium. Metal brackets and fittings were black unless overpainted.
LVG C.VI - After producing a few moderately successful designs of their own, LVG (Luft-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft) spent much of the Great War license building aircraft from more successful companies, like the Albatros D.II & C.III, the Gotha G.IV and DFW C.V. In early 1917, LVG introduced their successful LVG C.V which was heavily influenced by the ubiquitous DFW. The success of the LVG C.V led to the lighter and improved C.VI model depicted here. The C.VI was constructed along the same lines as the C.V with a plywood covered fuselage and fabric covered wings and tail plane. It was powered by a 230hp Benz Bz.IVa engine and armed with two machine guns, one firing through the arc of the propeller and controlled by the pilot and the 2nd on a flexible mount in the observer’s position. The prototype was first test flown in February 1918 and production aircraft entered front line service in the middle of that year. The C.VI was highly regarded for its respectable climb rate, speed and maneuverability. Surviving LVG C.VI flew on in foreign air forces and civil hands well into the 1930s. A number of aircraft were assembled in the 1920s to fulfill the demands of a burgeoning civil market. As a consequence of this post war use, we are lucky to have surviving examples of this important aircraft today.
The plywood fuselage of the LVG C.VI was usually given a transparent yellow or dark red brown varnish. The interior was clear varnished. Metal engine cowlings, fittings and brackets were usually painted grey green. Metal interior components and strut brackets were black unless overpainted. The wings and fabric tail plane surfaces were covered in pre-printed 4 & 5 colour lozenge camouflage fabric, possibly overpainted with a (brown?) glaze to tone down the vibrant colours with plain linen rib tapes.