Allied with the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune, part of the National Museums of Scotland, the Aviation Preservation Society of Scotland (APSS) is a group of aviation enthusiasts that are actively involved in supporting the museum staff in the museum’s restoration and conservation projects. In June of 2000, a sub-group from APSS approached the curator, offering to make a flying replica of an early aircraft for the museum’s collection.
After much discussion and consideration, the Museum of Flight settled on the Sopwith LCT 1½ Strutter, which while not necessarily the best known aircraft of its period, it was chosen because of the strong influence this design had on many subsequent aircraft, including the Sopwith Pup and the Camel. Appearing first in December 1915 and a product of the powerful design team of Sopwith, Sigrist and Hawker, it was initially powered by a 110 HP Clerget 9B rotary engine. It was the first British aircraft to have a fixed forward firing gun using an interrupter gear. Another novel feature of the plane were in-flight adjustable incidence tailplane and flaps. The center wing supports consisted of a “W” structure to save weight. Because of the “one-and-a-half” (long and short) pairs of cabane struts supporting the top wing, the plane came to be called the “1½ Strutter.”
Nearly 6,000 of these aircraft were built during the First World War, with the lion’s share being built under license in France, though there less than a dozen surviving in museums around the world. This replica aircraft is being built to original plans using the originally specified materials – with the exception of modern glues and fabric. The aircraft will be certified to fly under the auspices of the Popular Flying Association. Approximately 20 APSS members, mostly retirees, are at work on the aircraft, a two-seater, which is planned to fly locally at airshows and at other events throughout the year.
The plane was assembled in pieces and assembled for the first time last year, in the Museum’s hangar 4 adjacent to the museum’s exhibit centerpiece, Concorde G-BOAA. Once the plane was assembled, measurements were made and the plane was disassembled an returned to the APSS workshops for fitting of all of the control wires, the undercarriage and engine mounts. Earlier this summer, the engine for the plane arrived, sourced from Australia. The plane will be re-assembled again to ensure all of the controls work before covering the plane in its fabric as once enclosed in its wrappings making revisions will become that much more difficult.
The Sopwith 1½ Strutter is a wholly owned and self financed APSS project which was established with funds given in memory of Mr Bob Drummond. This generous donation has allowed the purchase of plans and start-up materials. The main source of finance has been public contributions, an early grant from New Horizons Trust and the sale of APSS owned airframes. APSS would welcome any financial support towards the substantial cost of completing this aircraft.