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Sopwith cockpit.

Printed From: Cross & Cockade
Category: General Discussion
Forum Name: General
Forum Discription: General Discussion
Printed Date: 14 Jul 2020 at 00:13
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 10.03 -

Topic: Sopwith cockpit.
Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Subject: Sopwith cockpit.
Date Posted: 30 Jun 2012 at 02:34
In the latest CCI Journal, Vol 43/2, there is a photo on page 082 of the cockpit of a Sopwith Bomber. Probably a unique photo, especially as Jimmy Glen who took the photo then annotated it.
I was intrigued by the large drum to contain the used ammunition belts. It is furnished with a handle, which the pilot turned to wind up the belt onto a reel.
Presumably he was supposed to do this in the middle of combat! My question is, was this common to all later scouts? Or, was the handle replaced by a spring later? How did this work on two-gun fighters ["scouts"] like the  Camel? Or, did they use a disintegrating link system?
On the next page, there is a Pup with a chute of some kind attached to the gun. Was this for used cartridges, or used links?

Posted By: John McKenzie
Date Posted: 30 Jun 2012 at 19:24
Hello Adrian .
I do not have a copy of that to which you refer , however I offer this :-
Here are views of the Sopwith Pup Ammo reel showing the little spool upon which ( from memory) is wound a cable that itself is under spring tension ...The handle which faces the pilot is on the Other side .
This suits a canvas belt of Std. 250 rounds ( other lengths may have been available)...The empty belt exits the Vickers feed block on the LH side & a Shoot UNDER the gun carries the used cartridges down to & out of the bottom of the aircraft .

Live ammo drums were sprung loaded to prevent the mass of the rotating drum from overtaking the feed /consumption rate at which the MG fired ...Other drums such as in Spad 7 type used a central conical spring as a form of speed brake .
The Handle on the live Ammo belt , ( if this is what you refer to) is , if I remember correctly , used for Loading , rather than having to be turned during operation of the gun , which has a "certain amount of power" in its operation , to Pull the belt , turning the reel & up through the feed block .

Disintegrating link belts were available to the British by about June 1916 & were a direct copy of the German belt , which was issued early in 1916 .
Thus these were available for the Camel ...Certainly , Reels were not employed & ammo was stored in separate Ally' boxes without of course any empty belt reels .
The ( W.DeCourcy) Prideaux disintegrating links were issued in 1918 & remained in service till 30's.

With the introduction of disintegrating links ( which were sometimes collected) , the live ammo was stored in Aluminium ( or sometimes wooden) box/containers , delivering to the RH side of the feed block ,....Reels no longer being required either for the live rounds , or to take up the empty canvas belt , the latter previously having been sprung loaded to tension the empty belt .

Hope this of some help ....JMSmile

Posted By: John McKenzie
Date Posted: 30 Jun 2012 at 19:27

Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 01 Jul 2012 at 01:46
Thanks John, I'll scan and post a copy of the photo tomorrow- getting a bit late now!

Posted By: Dogzbody
Date Posted: 01 Jul 2012 at 16:36
Adrian, John,
                   I recall reading Sgt Edward Mills of 44HD Sqn describe the fitting of perforated mesh shields over the Camel's (delivered from Boulton Paul in the summer of 1917) rotary engine air intakes to prevent spent cartridge cases being sucked in.
John, I still have a couple of Prideaux disintegrating links I picked up in the road during the Battle of Britain. Very interesting Pup amunittion feed photos, apart from the slow rate of fire I cannot recall this system being crticised, unlike the British built SPAD VII's of 19 Sqn that had problems with drum overfeeding.
At last Friday's C&C Essex Chapter meeting, the recent auction of a silver bowel presented to Lieut Allan Jerrard VC, raised an interesting discussion.
Allan Jerrard was the only Camel pilot to be awrded the Victoria Cross. It appears numerous stories surrounding the incident exist, but the fact remains, he had been yet another brave 20 year old scout pilot, a credit to No.66 Sqn.                                  TTFN,   Dogzbody.       

Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 02 Jul 2012 at 01:29

Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 02 Jul 2012 at 01:33
The previous post shows the photo of the Sopwith Bomber cockpit (I don't seem to be able to include text in the same post).
The handle I am talking about is labelled 13 "drum for winding in used ammunition belt". Its not entirely clear if the words are those of the pilot Jimmy Glen, or author Stuart Taylor.

Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 02 Jul 2012 at 01:36
This photo is of the Sopwith Pup with what appears to be a used cartridge chute attached to the gun. I've seen other photos of Pups with this feature, but not all did.

Posted By: John McKenzie
Date Posted: 02 Jul 2012 at 08:45
Hi Adrian ...Its been some 40 years since I was at all involved with Pups , and only then in as much as manufacturing components (as above etc.) , so I was obviously a bit "rusty" as to layout , although I must still have the Drgs somewhere .

Your first photo:- 
( My Mistake earlier )...Obviously the Reel/Drum  that is shown in your photo , ( as also , per that of the parts  which I posted a pic.s  of , also ).... is the " USED belt take up reel " rather than a live ammo reel .
The Live ammo in this case is stored in the Aluminium box that can be seen to the right of the control column .
Without getting out Pup Drg.s ...I suspect that the handle was in fact used to "maintain" the required amount of pre-loaded tension on the used belt reel  as well as setting the "initial" preload .
 As the drum winds up the belt , the preload gradually lessens & so occasionally a few of turns would need to be applied on the handle to "maintain the pre-load" .

Second photo:-  
The Shoot on the LH side of the MG is for directing Used Disintegrated Links or the Used belt , as they exits from the LH side of the MG Feed Block the first case discharging into the airstream (links) or , flapping about in the airstream ! if (unlikely) , it still used still the fabric belt .

( NOT seen in the Pup photo ) :-
The Used Brass CARTRIDGE Cases , in the case of the Vickers , ...discharge " Vertically Downwards" out of the BOTTOM of the gun ....These are usually directed overboard ,..via a shoot which slots into place on the bottom of the Vickers .....The shoot/s , may exit to the side as per Camel .


Posted By: Adrian Roberts
Date Posted: 03 Jul 2012 at 01:16
Thanks John, and DB
So we can conclude the pilot was expected to wind the empty-belt handle as his belt fed through, but that it was only the first few months of use of the aircraft-mounted Vickers that it was was necessary - on the Strutters and early Pups, and maybe the Spad VII. From about early 1917, it seems that disintegrating links were used, so no need to take up a belt: this would have been essential in a Camel with its two guns.

Posted By: John McKenzie
Date Posted: 03 Jul 2012 at 08:34
That sounds about right Adrian , except that the " winding handle" would not have to be used continually while firing the gun ..., but only occasionally , in order to maintain the preloaded Pull on the empty fabric belt .
As far as I recall , there is no winding handle on either of the Spad 7's Live ammo or Empty belt drums .
 Although there are a few drawings missing from the full set of S7 manufacturing drgs that unfortunately , just were not saved ....There is , as I said , a Conical spring brake on the Live ammo drum ahead of the pilot but the Empty belt drum *, being positioned on the LH side , just behind the pilot , would make it almost impossible for the pilot to reach & operate , even IF such a winding handle were present .
* Sadly , I do not have the drawings for this latter component , or its means of pre-tensioning .

The Pup/Strutter MG operation is a little more awkward than the Spad 7 in as much as the Pups "trigger" (? item#3 in your photo) as with the Scarff-Dybovsky gear , consisted of a tubular lever with a flattened end , which had to be depressed to fire the gun ...This was positioned to the left of the Vickers , just above the level of the top longerons ...
Thus neither the Tampier Fuel/Air throttle levers on the left side , nor the belt winding handle , could  be operated simultaniously by the Left hand  , while also depressing the MG trigger .
This system may?? have been superceeded by a trigger on the spade grip in later machines ?? to be operated by the right hand thumb .

On the Spad 7 , the Left hand would be free , ( to operate a winding handle IF it did exist ) & anyway , Both the Throttle & MG triggers are incorporated into the Control Column Handle , for right handed use ,... the throttle action coming from a twisting movement of the hand grip , the integral trigger and guard assembly moving with it .


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