Military Factory logo

Sopwith Dolphin Biplane Fighter Aircraft

 Updated: 5/3/2016; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©

  Sopwith Dolphin  
Picture of Sopwith Dolphin Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Picture of Sopwith Dolphin Biplane Fighter Aircraft Picture of Sopwith Dolphin Biplane Fighter AircraftPicture of Sopwith Dolphin Biplane Fighter AircraftPicture of Sopwith Dolphin Biplane Fighter Aircraft

The Sopwith Dolphin biplane fighter proved to be an outstanding design, providing impressive armament and an attention to pilot needs.

The Sopwith Dolphin was yet another fighter design in the long line of Thomas Sopwith production aircraft during World War 1. The system was produced with the fighter pilot in mind and offered up an unobstructed view from out of the cockpit. This was accomplished by lowering the upper wing section of the traditional biplane assembly, allowing the pilot's head to protrude from the aircraft. The wing was basically an extension of the upper fuselage now and less a component all its own. Additionally, care was taken to provide the pilot with complimentary armament capable of engaging any enemy aircraft of the time. This would come in the form of twin 7.7mm machine guns firing forward and an additional one or two 7.7mm machine guns angled to fire forward and above. The system served - albeit with some reservation - for a time since its introduction in 1917.

The Dolphin provided a viable platform to which a fighter pilot could tally an impressive list of kills. For some, however, the system was somewhat a threat unto itself as it developed noted stalling characteristics thanks to the tail wing design. With the pilot's head protruding from the design, the aircraft was also open to lethal "nose-over" accidents in which the aircraft might flip up and over its own nose, landing square on the head and neck of the pilot. As such, a support to the upper wing section was later added to address this. In the end, the Dolphin served its purpose to a limited extent, but nevertheless became another accepted Allied fighter design to combat the Fokker Scourge.

Total production reached 2,072 examples.

Sopwith 5F.1 Dolphin Technical Specifications

Service Year: 1917
Type: Biplane Fighter Aircraft
National Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer(s): Sopwith - UK
Production Total: 2,072

Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)

Operating Crew (Typical): 1
Overall Length: 22.24 feet (6.78 meters)
Overall Width: 32.51 feet (9.91 meters)
Overall Height: 8.50 feet (2.59 meters)

Weight (Empty): 1,479 lb (671 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 2,008 lb (911 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Propulsion: 1 x Hispano-Suiza piston engine developing 200 horsepower.

Maximum Speed: 112 mph (180 kph; 97 knots)
Maximum Range: 196 miles (315 km)
Service Ceiling: 19,997 feet (6,095 meters; 3.79 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 855 feet-per-minute (261 m/min)

Armament / Mission Payload

2 x 7.7mm forward-firing fixed machine guns
1 OR 2 x 7.7mm machine gun in forward oblique angled position.

Global Operators / Customers

France; United Kingdom

Model Variants (Including Prototypes)

Dolphin Mk I - Initial production model; Hispano-Suiza 8B engine of 200 horsepower.
Dolphin Mk II - French license production; fitted with Hispano-Suiza 8F engine of 300 horsepower.
Dolphin Mk III - Fitted with direct-drive Hispano-Suiza 8B engine.

Images Gallery