U.S. Air Service




Sopwith 1½ Strutter

Development and Operation

In 1915 the British Admiralty requested the design for a 2-seat bomber to be used on the Western Front. The Sopwith Company, using the design skills of Fred Sigrist and Herbert Smith completed the design and construction of a prototype in December 1915. The configuration of the attachment of the upper wing to the fuselage was unique in its use of interplane and cabine struts in a trestle-shape. While officially known as the Sopwith Type 9400 (based on the serial number of the prototype) the nickname of "1 ˝ Strutter was soon in common useage. The French aviation authorities were sufficiently impressed with the aircraft that they began building their own models in 1916 and continued unit about April 1918. Some 4200 aircraft were built by Awiot, Bessoneau, Darraq, Lioré et Oliver, Hanriot, Sarazin, S.F.A., and R.E.P.

Between February and May 1918 the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps. purchased 514 machines from the French (384 reconnaissance and 130 single-seat bombers). The reconnaissance machines had either a150 hp LeRhône 9Jby engine or the 130 hp Clerget 9Bc engine. The single-seat bombers had the 135 Clerget 9Ba engine.

The U.S. Navy purchased four Strutters. They were based at NAS Mouchic for training, with two of them eventually being sent to NAS Pauillac. The Army machines were intended to be used for training—mostly at Issoudun. However, due to a lack of more up-to-date aircraft the 80th, 90th, and 99th Aero Squadrons had to fly these machines operationally for a short time until more suitable aircraft could be obtrained from the French and British. None of the single-seat bombers were assigned to Day Bombardment due to a strong dislike by the pilots, based on its obsolete design and the underpowered nature of the aircraft.


Aircraft and Flight Characteristics
(Based on the French 1A-2 designation)


145 hp Clerget 9Bc

Weight Empty

1,159 lbs.

Military Load

265 lbs.


353 lbs.


264 lbs.

Weight Loaded

2,041 lbs.

Maximum Speed at:
6,500 ft.

104 miles per hour

Maximum Speed at:
10,500 ft.

100 miles per hour

Maximum Speed at:
13,000 ft.

93 miles per hour

Climb to:
5,000 ft.

12 min. 45 sec.

Climb to
10,000 ft.

23 min. 40 sec.

Wing Span

33 ft. 3 inches


25 ft. 3 inches


10 ft. 3 inches


One Vickers for the pilot and one Lewis gun on either a Nieuprot Ring or a No. 2 Scarff Ring Mount for the Observer

Bomb Load

Four 25 lb. Bombs


1. Profile Publications No. 121 The Sopwith 1 ˝ Strutter

2. French Aircraft of the First World War
by Davilla, Dr. James and Arthur M. Soltan

3. British Aeroplanes 1914-1918 by Bruce J.M.

Photo courtesy of THE AERODROME website.

To find other Doughboy Features visit our

Directory Page

For Great War Society
Membership Information

Click on Icon

For further information on the events of 1914-1918 visit the homepage of

The Great War Society

Additions and comments on these pages may be directed to:
Michael E. Hanlon (medwardh@hotmail.com) regarding content,
or toMike Iavarone (mikei01@execpc.com) regarding form and function.
Original artwork & copy; © 1998-2000, The Great War Society