Sopwith Tabloid Seaplane, Schneider Trophy,
The Sopwith Tabloid was constructed in 1913 as two-seater
racing aeroplane. The design was one of extreme simplicity.
The engine was the popular 80 h.p. Gnome rotary enclosed in
a peculiar metal cowling, with two small cooling slots in
front. The fuselage, a wire-braced woods box girder, was
rather broad, for the pilot and passenger sat side by side
in the one cockpit. The wings were of usual fabric-covered
wooden construction, with raked tips. Wing warping was used
for lateral control. The undercarriage was equipped with
Flown by Harry Hawker, the Tabloid performed excellently on
test at Farnborough. reaching a speed of 92 m.p.h and
climbing to 1,200 feet in one minute, with pilot. passenger
and fuel for two and a half hours' flying. Its first public
appearance at Hendon was sensational; it easily outclassed
the monoplane, which had hitherto been supreme.
The original machine was taken by Hawker to Australia- he
returned in June 1914; by then the aeroplane had a plain vee
undercarriage and the fabric had been removed from the rear
end of the fuselage.
On April 20th, 1914, Howard Pixton, who had take
over Hawker's duties, piloted a seaplane version of the
Tabloid to victory in the Schneider Trophy race. This model
had the 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape engine and plain rudder
Production commenced in the spring of 1914 for both the
R.F.C. and R.N.A.S. The service machines were single seaters,
had rudders and fins resembling those of the Schneider
seaplane, and twin-skid undercarriages. A few had extra
bracing struts to each skid.
Sopwith Tabloid Seaplane, Schneider Trophy,
1914 Pilot C. Howard Pixton is on the port float
Four Tabloids went to France shortly after the outbreak of
war, and were eventually attached to squadrons for fast
scouting duties. An early success was obtained by Lieutenant
Norman Spratt, who forced down a German machine by circling
his Tabloid around it; his only 'armament'
at the time being a bundle of steel darts! Some R.N.A.S.
machines had Lewis guns fitted on their top wings to fire
above the revolving airscrew. One naval Tabloid had a Lewis
gun fixed on the starboard side of its fuselage to fire
through the airscrew arc; deflector plates protected the
blades from damage-a device invented by the French engineer
Saulnier and used on the single-seater Morane Saulnier
The type scored its greatest success in the light bomber
role. On October 8th, 1914, the first two R.N.A.S. Tabloid'
to reach the front, Nos, 167 and 168, took off from
beleaguered Antwerp to raid the Zeppelin sheds at Cologec
and Dusseldorf. Squadron Commander Spenser Grey, flying 167,
was unable to find his target, and bombed the railway
station at Cologne, flight Lieutenant Marix dropped his 20
lb. bombs on the airship shed at Dusseldorf and destroyed
the new Zeppelin Z.IX. Both aeroplanes were forced to land,
but the pilots reached Antwerp before the town was evacuated
by the Allies.
Later machines had ailerons for lateral control, In place of
wing warping. It is believed that about forty of the type
A specially modified Sopwith Tablid
was the winner of the Schneider Trophy race, in 1914.
alterations consisted of the addition of two floats and a
more powerful engine. On April 20, 1914. at Monaco, Howard
Pixton flew an average of 86.9 mph (39.6 kph). In two extra
laps, he reached 92 mph (148 kph). establishing a new
seaplane speed record. Thus the Sopwith biplane had its
revenge on the Deperdussin monoplane and gave Great Britain
its first major international success in aviation.
The special version of this plane prepared for Britain's
first appearance at the Schneider Trophy was not
substantially different from the model that had appeared the
previous autumn. The land version of the Tabloid was
designed by T. O. M. Sopwith and F. Sigrist. as a
demonstration and racing aircraft. It was built in great
secrecy, and preliminary tests were made
at Brooklands in autumn 1913. These were followed by the
official evaluation tests, and the plane immediately
demonstrated its speed and manoeuvrability.
At the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, where the
tests were conducted, the Tabloid reached a top speed of 92
mph (148 kph) in horizontal flight and showed a rate of
climb in the order of 1,200 feet per minute (365.75 metres
per minute). The same day, November 29, test pilot Harry
Hawker flew the plane to Hendon, where one of the popular
Saturday air meetings was being held. The new Sopwith was
seen by more than 50,000 spectators, and flew two
low-altitude laps round the course at more than 87 mph (140
kph). After that, the plane was ordered in large numbers by
the army and the navy as a
Sopwith Tabloid Seaplane, Schneider Trophy, 1914
Then the Sopwith company readied one of its single-seaters
for the upcoming Schneider Trophy race. Since the race was
restricted to seaplanes, the aircraft had to be modified.
The landing gear was removed, and a large central float was
installed in its place. The 100-hp Gnome engine was also
modified for the occasion. The single float did not stand up
to tests, the plane capsizing. There was very little time
left before the race, so the Sopwith designers decided to
slice the original float in half to make two new ones. This
time flight and landing tests on the Thames were successful,
and the Tabloid was sent off to Monaco on April 8, 1914. The
final modification before the race was the installation of a
better propeller. The rest is history.
Back in England after the race, the floats were removed at
Sopwith's factory at Kingston-on-Thames, and a V strut
landing gear was installed. Now the plane was ready for R.
H. Barnwell to fly at the 1914 Aerial Derby. But because of
poor visibility the plane did not complete the race. That
was the end of the Tabloid's racing career. War broke out,
and the Tabloid served as a reconnaissance plane during the
first months of the conflict, when its speed and general
handiness became very useful military assets indeed