Sopwith Dragon

The Sopwith Dragon was a British single-seat fighter biplane developed from the Sopwith Snipe.

Design and DevelopmentEdit

In April 1918, the sixth Snipe prototype was fitted with a 320hp (239kW) ABC Dragonfly I radial engine. To compensate for the greater weight of the Dragonfly, the fuselage was lengthened by 22 in (56 cm). The prototype suffered persistent ignition system defects, but performance was encouraging when the Dragonfly engine operated properly. In June 1918, the Royal Air Force issued a contract for 30 Dragonfly-engined Snipes, which were subsequently named Dragons. In late November 1918, the RAF cancelled a production order for 300 Snipes and reordered the aircraft as Dragons. A second prototype was equipped with the larger 360hp (268kW) ABC Dragonfly IA engine. This aircraft did not begin official trials at Martlesham Heath until February 1919. It attained a top speed of 150 mph (240 km/h) at sea level and achieved a service ceiling of 25,000 ft.

Sopwith built approximately 200 Dragon airframes, which were placed in storage pending delivery of their engines. Difficulties with the Dragonfly ultimately proved impossible to resolve. Only a few aircraft were completed with Dragonfly engines, and none were issued to squadrons. The Dragon was finally declared obsolete in April 1923.

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