Sopwith 1½ Strutter

One of the great unsung warriors of the first air war was the Sopwith LCT – the Land Clerget Tractor of Sopwith drawing office parlance – but known forever as the 1½ Strutter: in reference to its unusual ‘W’ central wing strut configuration. With a fixed synchronised Vickers gun for the pilot and a flexible Lewis gun for the observer’s position to the rear the 1½ Strutter was a vast improvement over contemporary BE and FE types. As well as in the reconnaissance and fighter roles, these two-seat Sopwiths were employed as single-seat bombers and night-fighters. Considerable numbers were licence-built in France, at least 4500 from eleven sub-contractors: in the UK, production peaked at a mere 1280. Strutters were widely used by the RNAS for pioneering-deck landing experiments; it was also the first aeroplane to feature air brakes.