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Sopwith Dolphin

 


 

With its negative stagger, and rakish, about to leap stance, the Dolphin was first received into British squadrons with skepticism. The pilot sat with a Hispano-Suiza engine practically in his lap. Twin fixed Vickers machine guns mounted above the engine, and twin Lewis machine guns mounted on the top wing (on early models), were inches from his face. The gas tank was behind his head. In an effort to provide good visibility, the top wing was mounted such that the pilot could easily look either above or below it. This, however, meant that his head was surrounded by the steel tube structure of the wing center-section which caused understandable discomfort.

Downward visibility was very restricted as the lower wing was mounted directly below the cockpit.

The Dolphin was the first multi-gun fighter in history, and was capable of carrying four 25 lb. Cooper bombs. Eventually, it became accepted and had a successful service career.

Andy Keefe and Cole Palen built this authentic reproduction in 1977 from Hawker-Siddeley drawings. It is equipped with an original 180 HP Hispano-Suiza engine. On September 30, 1990, the Dolphin made an unscheduled landing in the trees during a show as a result of an engine failure. Pilot Dick King was not injured. It will be rebuilt to fly again.