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Sopwith Rhino

United Kingdom (1918)
Picture of Sopwith Rhino Triplane Bomber Prototype Aircraft

Developmental problems aside, the Sopwith Rhino Triplane Bomber did not impress UK officials enough to warrant serial production by the end of World War 1.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Sopwith Rhino Triplane Bomber Prototype Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 3/9/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

Lost in the discussions concerning Sopwith aircraft of World War 1 was the Sopwith "Rhino", an interesting triplane bomber given life in 1917. World War 1 had raged since the summer of 1914 and its end was consistently in doubt. The Sopwith Aviation Company had made a household name for itself with its earlier Sopwith Triplane of 1916 followed by its war-winning Sopwith Camel of 1917. With these and several other designs in tow, the firm concentrated on bringing about the Rhino as a private venture beginning in the middle of 1917. The design intended to successfully mate a triplane wing arrangement to a streamlined airframe to present a capable two-seat, single-engine bomber. Triplane wings had generally fallen out of favor by this time but it offered exceptional lift and maneuverability qualities at the expense of drag.

Outwardly, the fuselage of the Rhino was given a unique fuselage shape with its rather deep side profile. A most conventional design, the Rhino fitted a single powerplant at the forward end of the fuselage with a traditional tail unit at the rear. The engine powered a two-bladed propeller assembly and was housed in a metal compartment. The fuselage tapered at the rear in the usual way and sported slap sides. The main wing section consisted of three planes - a central plane running through the fuselage, an upper wing assembly running over the fuselage and a lower wing assembly across the fuselage belly. The undercarriage was fixed in place and showcased a two-wheeled, strutted assembly with a simplistic tail skid at the rear. The aircraft was crewed by two personnel in separate, open-air cockpits - the pilot in front and his observer/gunner at in the rear. Power was served through a Beardmore Halford Pullinger (BHP) 6-cylinder, water-cooled inline piston engine outputting at 230 horsepower. This supplied the mount with a listed maximum speed of 103 miles per hour with a service ceiling of 12,000 feet. Endurance was listed at 3.75 hours.
For its designated bomber role, the Rhino could carry up to 450lb of ordnance in an internal bomb bay. Unique to the design was that the ordnance was preloaded into an awaiting "pack" and then that pack was subsequently loaded up into the aircraft. The operation was intended to allow for quick resupply of bomb stores as required by the stresses of war. To counter the threat of enemy aircraft, the pilot managed a fixed, forward-firing 7.7mm Vickers machine gun over the engine cowling. This weapon was synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades. The rear gunner defended the critical "six" of the aircraft by managing a single 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on a flexible mounting.

Since the Rhino was never developed to any formal British military requirement, its very existence and subsequent future were always in doubt. An initial prototype was completed and flown in October of 1917. While generally a capable aircraft, the prototype exhibited persistent engine overheating issues and temperamental handling, the latter due to a pronounced "nose-heavy" arrangement. A second prototype followed though this only incorporated subtle changes to the rear cockpit and testing continuing into 1918. Doomed by its pedestrian performance showing, engine issues and general lack of interest from British authorities, the type was given up for good. The Rhino would, therefore, fall into military aviation obscurity in only its two completed prototype forms. Sopwith continued utilizing these airframes for various testing programs thereafter but nothing more came of the Rhino.






Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (103mph).

    Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
SYD
 
  LAX
LAX
 
  NYC
Graph showcases the Sopwith Rhino's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
2
2


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
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Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: United Kingdom
Service Year: 1918
Classification Type: Triplane Bomber Prototype Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Sopwith Aircraft Company - UK
Production Units: 2
Operational Status: Cancelled
Global Operators:
United Kingdom
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Sopwith Rhino model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
2


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
27.66 ft


Meters
8.43 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
33.01 ft


Meters
10.06 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
10.93 ft


Meters
3.33 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
2,205 lb


Kilograms
1,000 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
3,594 lb


Kilograms
1,630 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Beardmore Halford Pullinger (BHP) 6-cylinder, water-cooled inline piston engine developing 230 horsepower.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
103 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
166 kph


Knots
90 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
27 mi


Kilometers
44 km


Nautical Miles
24 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
12,008 ft


Meters
3,660 m


Miles
2.27 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
400 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
122 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (0):

STANDARD:
1 x 7.7mm Vickers fixed, forward-firing machine gun on forward fuselage synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on trainable mount in rear cockpit.

OPTIONAL:
Up to 450lbs of internal stores.
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Variants: Series Model Variants
• Rhino - Base Series Designation; only two prototypes completed before project cancellation.