SOPWITH TRIPLANE “Ernie” Hoblyn
The pilots who flew the Triplanes became very fond of them because they would out-climb and out-turn any contemporary aircraft. Our Sopwith Triplane is a replica, the first prototype Triplane built by Sopwiths. It was sent to France in June 1916, shortly after the arrival of the Sopwith Pup in Squadron service. Within fifteen minutes of the aircraft arriving at Furnes, home of “A” Flight, No.1 Sqn, RNAS, it was sent up to chase off an intruding enemy aircraft. By early 1917 two squadrons, Naval 8 and Naval 10, were equipped with the “Tripehound” as it became known, and used them to good advantage against enemy squadrons including Jasta 2, led by von Richtofen
A total of 150 Triplanes were built, mostly by Sopwith, although some were built by Clayton and Shuttleworth, and six by Oakleys. The Royal Naval Air Service used most, with a few going to the French, one to Mudros in the Aegean and one to the Russians. None were used operationally by the RFC.
Although popular and effective, their front-line service life was short, being replaced by Camels from late summer 1917. A few soldiered on as training aircraft or with Home Defence Squadrons until the Armistice
Our replica represents N500, which survived until December 1917, and was then struck off charge as being worn out. It had survived several landing and take-off accidents, plus some flak damage which resulted in it being returned to Sopwiths for two new wings. Flight Sub-Lieutenant Roderick Dallas shot down at least two enemy aircraft in it.
The aircraft was built by Ernie Hoblyn over a three-year period, and has been active on the display circuit since 1997.