The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter aircraft, introduced on the Western Front in 1917. It was developed by the Sopwith Aviation Company as a successor to the Sopwith Pup and became one of the best known fighter aircraft of the Great War; the Camel was powered by a single rotary engine and was armed with twin synchronized Vickers machine guns. Though proving difficult to handle, it provided for a high level of manoeuvrability to an experienced pilot, an attribute, valued in the type's principal use as a fighter aircraft. In total, Camel pilots have been credited with downing 1,294 enemy aircraft, more than any other Allied fighter of the conflict. Towards the end of the First World War, the type had seen use as a ground-attack aircraft due to it having become outclassed as the capabilities of fighter aircraft on both sides were advancing at that time; the main variant of the Camel was designated as the F.1. F.1, a dedicated "trench fighter", armoured for the purpose of conducting ground attacks upon defended enemy lines.
The Camel saw use as a two-seat trainer aircraft. In January 1920, the last aircraft of the type were withdrawn from RAF service; when it became clear the Sopwith Pup was no match for the newer German fighters such as the Albatros D. III, the Camel was developed to replace it, as well as the Nieuport 17s, purchased from the French as an interim measure, it was recognised that the new fighter needed to have a heavier armament. The design effort to produce this successor designated as the Sopwith F.1, was headed by Sopwith's chief designer, Herbert Smith. Early in its development, the Camel was referred to as the "Big Pup". A metal fairing over the gun breeches, intended to protect the guns from freezing at altitude, created a "hump" that led pilots to call the aircraft "Camel", although this name was never used officially. On 22 December 1916, the prototype Camel was first flown by Harry Hawker at Brooklands, Surrey. In May 1917, the first production contract for an initial batch of 250 Camels was issued by the British War Office.
Throughout 1917, a total of 1,325 Camels were produced entirely the initial F.1 variant. By the time that production of the type came to an end 5,490 Camels of all types had been built. In early 1918, production of the naval variant of the Sopwith Camel, the "Ship's" Camel 2F.1 began. The Camel had a conventional design for its era, featuring a wooden box-like fuselage structure, an aluminium engine cowling, plywood panels around the cockpit, a fabric-covered fuselage and tail. While possessing some clear similarities with the Pup, it was furnished with a noticeably bulkier fuselage. For the first time on an operational British-designed fighter, two 0.303 in Vickers machine guns were mounted directly in front of the cockpit, synchronised to fire forwards through the propeller disc – this consisted of the fitment of the Sopwith firm's own synchronizer design, but after the mechanical-linkage Sopwith-Kauper units began to wear out, the more accurate and easier-to-maintain, hydraulic-link Constantinesco-Colley system replaced it from November 1917 onward.
In addition to the machine guns, a total of four Cooper bombs could be carried for ground attack purposes. The bottom wing was rigged with 5 ° dihedral; the upper wing featured a central cutout section for the purpose of providing improved upwards visibility for the pilot. Production Camels were powered by various rotary engines, most either the Clerget 9B or the Bentley BR1. In order to evade a potential manufacturing bottleneck being imposed upon the overall aircraft in the event of an engine shortage, several other engines were adopted to power the type as well. Unlike the preceding Pup and Triplane, the Camel was considered to be difficult to fly; the type owed both its extreme manoeuvrability and its difficult handling to the close placement of the engine, pilot and fuel tank within the front seven feet of the aircraft, to the strong gyroscopic effect of the rotating mass of the cylinders common to rotary engines. Aviation author Robert Jackson notes that: "in the hands of a novice it displayed vicious characteristics that could make it a killer.
The Camel soon gained an unfortunate reputation with pilots. Some inexperienced pilots crashed on take-off when the full fuel load pushed the aircraft's centre of gravity beyond the rearmost safe limits; when in level flight, the Camel was markedly tail-heavy. Unlike the Sopwith Triplane, the Camel lacked a variable incidence tailplane, so that the pilot had to apply constant forward pressure on the control stick to maintain a level attitude at low altitude; the aircraft could be rigged so that at higher altitudes it could be flown "hands off". A stall resulted in a dangerous spin. A two-seat trainer version of the Camel was built to ease the transition process: in his Recollections of an Airman Lt Col L. A. Strange, who served with the central flying school, wrote: "In spite of the care w
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Norman John Greville Pounds was an English geographer and historian. He wrote over 30 books on the history and geography of Europe from several different time periods. Pounds grew up in Bath, where he was born on 23 February 1912, he went to three schools in the area. The first two were Church of England schools, he attended King Edward's School on a scholarship between 1923 and 1931. He studied at Fitzwilliam House at University of Cambridge where hereceived a diploma in education, he became a geography and history teacher at Falmouth Grammar School in Cornwall between 1935 and 1944. When the Second World War broke out in 1939, he was declared medically unfit for active service and instead worked as a firewatcher, he spent this time writing his PhD on the historical geography of Cornwall and received a first-class geography and history BA degree from the University of London. Pounds began teaching geography at The University of Cambridge in 1945 before moving onto Indiana University in the 1950s where he was a geography professor until 1968.
He continued to teach at various institutions for several decades stopping in 2004 at the age of 92. Pounds' father, John Greville Pounds, was a compositor and his mother, Camilla Martha Minnie née Fisher was a teacher, he married Dorothy Josephine Mitchell in 1938. He died on 24 March 2006 of Leukaemia which he was diagnosed with at age 87. Baker, Alan R. H.. "Norman John Greville Pounds". Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies. 30: 22–45