BuiltWithNOF

MIKE ROACH’S MODEL AIRCRAFT

THE SOPWITH CHURCHILL

I have been holding a torch for this aircraft since I first saw “The Book” whilst at school, got round to drawing up a plan and building it about 8 years ago, almost finished it three time and at last, have brought it to flying condition.

It is pretty stoutly built, with hardwood spars and quite a lot of liteply but thanks to LiPoly cells only weighs 3lb 9oz with a 3-cell 3700mAh battery installed.  The lumpen great geared 600 on the front contributes to getting the balance point in the right place.

The only markings are the serial number and the “Sopwith Aviation” trademark on the rudder and Union Jacks under the wings.

Just one of these aircraft was built, apparently to the request of the then Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, in 1913 and it is basically a scaled-up Tabloid (although its design owes at least as much to the 2-Seat Scout or Spinning Jenny). It went to France at the beginning of WWI and, with 3 Tabloids, was captured by the Germans as they overran their airfield, having achieved very little.

One photograph in “the Book” wrongly describes it as a Tabloid but there is a second.  In both, there is a cut-out in the rear of the centre section to allow pilot and passenger to get in and out.  This is not shown on the 3-view in the book and I missed it when drawing up the plan. The cockpit is so cramped that it must have been essential - but not as cramped as the Prototype Tabloid, which must have been very chummy indeed.

Typically for Sopwiths, one aircraft has three names: The Sociable, the Tweenie and the Churchill.

Left Showing the elements of the design and the slight dihedral, the split axleand the bull-nose cowling hiding a 100-hp Gnome engine.

Below left This rear view at the Sopwith Works shows the tiny fin/rudder, but at least the aircraft had proper ailerons, not the inadequate wing warping system that Sopwith persisted with for another year.

Above Although only one Churchill was produced in the UK, a twin-bay version of the Tabloid was made by the V Lebedev company in Russia. It had very similar proportions to the Churchill, with a production Tabloid fin and rudder.  Presumably the oil drum under the rear fuselage was for display purposes only...

Yes yes, I have cut the grass since then! Solartex replaced Litespan on the wings, but not on the fuselage, tail surfaces or ailerons.  The cowl is white foam, “brown papered”

The model is to 1/8th scale, with a wingspan of 54”

The lower cowling and a dummy engine still need to be completed, but let’s see if she flies first!

Pictures taken on 30 May 2008

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