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SOPWITH SNIPE ‘E6655’, RAF Museum, Hendon


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Acquisition of a Sopwith Snipe had been a long-term aim of the RAF

Museum. First components specifically acquired towards the planned rebuild; Original all-metal Snipe-type tail surfaces (fin, rudder, elevator (newbuild by Skysport) and horizontal surfaces) restored in the 1920s silver and yellow - doped scheme of the No. 1 Squadron aircraft (E6655/B)

originally flown from RAF Hinaidi in Iraq in 1926 by (later) MRAF Sir Dermot Boyle, first Chairman of Trustees of the RAF Museum, by Skysport Engineering, Hatch, Beds. These originated from Shuttleworth Collection Sopwith Dove G-EBKY, built from unused Pup parts and first registered March 1925 (now flying as Sopwith Pup 9917/N5180), to which they were fitted, in modified form, in May 1927 following a post - April 1927 crash rebuild by the Fairey Aviation Co Ltd using parts including spare fuselage supplied by Messrs H.G. Hawker Eng. Co Ltd. An overhaul in 1930 included the fitting of seven new ribs to this tailplane, and a new trailing edge and one rib fitted to the elevator.
The tailplane was removed from the Pup/Dove in a restoration in 1969/1970 and reverse engineered to their original Snipe standard. These parts were initially delivered to RAFM Hendon for display in the Grahame White Factory on 14 May 2010.

The original E6655 was one of 150 Snipes ordered from Coventry Ordnance Works on 20 March 1918, of which E6537 to E6656 were delivered between 4 January 1919 and September 1919.


An important original component was the Bentley BR.2 rotary engine of the type fitted to the Snipe; built by the Humber Motor Company, formerly displayed at Manchester Air and Space Museum, the Shuttleworth Collection, and RAFM Cosford. It is fitted with an original Snipe propeller. Other original Snipe components held and accessioned by the RAF Museum and used in this restoration include a pair of port and starboard upper ailerons. Also held was a pair of wartime - produced original lower ailerons. There were also incomplete port upper and starboard lower mainplanes acquired from a private donor in Bedford, also used in the

Other original Snipe components held at RAFM Stafford and mostly able to be incorporated in the reconstruction included unused wooden bearers for the main fuel tank and other fuselage vertical struts, plustwo cabane struts, spar/wing rib fragments, six interplane struts and a control column topgrip, a switchbox, magneto and Thomson Bennett magneto switch, and several cockpit lamps.


The reconstruction of this composite Snipe was undertaken by the Vintage Aviator Ltd (TVAL), Wellington, New Zealand as part of an exchange deal. As detailed above, it was possible for TVAL to incorporate many original RAFM Snipe items into this static airframe incorporating new - build components (mainly for the fuselage) where necessary.
Original Snipes are rare. The fuselage of William Barker VC’s E8102 is preserved in the War Museum, Ottawa, and the Aviation and Space Museum, Ottawa has the complete Snipe E6938/B. Former Cole Palen airframe E8100/E8105, later passed to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington DC; was the last original Snipe to fly, c. 1966.


Text (shortened) by Andrew Simpson, from http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documents/X006-0349-Sopwith-Snipe-Composite.pdf






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