The British designed, Fairey Campania, became the world’s first purpose built carrier aircraft, with Britain being naval aviation’s first big proponent and pioneer throughout the First World War. War broke out in Europe in summertime of 1914, and as is the norm in wartime economies, technology raced with offered solutions to wartime problems, thereby introducing technological advances during the First World War such as fighter & bomber aircraft, aircraft carriers, as well as seaplane tenders, which were vessels normally converted from in-service hulls, providing a serviceable platform to aircraft sporting floatplanes at sea. Its aircraft would be lowered by crane onto the sea surface in order to accomplish take-off and on its return collected in a similar fashion.
In 1916 the British Royal Navy had the HMS Campania extensively revised, incorporating a 200 foot long flight deck; simultaneously an order was placed for a purpose-built carrier aircraft to partake in aerial sorties involving naval reconnaissance and patrol. Aircraft manufacturers Fairey, established in 1915, were on the back of their previous experience in aircraft production of various types for the military, tasked to complete the building and design of the world’s first carrier-based aircraft. Fairey returned with its F-16 Rolls-Royce powered, two seater, single-engine, biplane prototype, armed with a single Lewis 7.7 mm machine gun housed on flexible ring mounting in the aft cockpit, and equipped the airframe with a maximum bomb load of six x 116 pounders. Two aircraft were produced to see limited operational service before its latter-day acceptance into the annals of the Royal Navy.
The Sopwith Aviation Company could arguably be called the most successful of the wartime aircraft manufacturers, having developed a host of new models and variants of each to eventually successfully deliver nine models and numerous derivatives of each model, of which virtually all saw military and/or civilian service during the First World War period. The models that proudly served the British Empire and on forces included names such as the Strutter, Baby, Dolphin, Pup, Rhino, Snipe, Tabloid, with each of these planes contributing to the wartime effort. The Strutter saw service in 1916, became the first British designed aircraft to employ a machine-gun accurately synchronised to fire through the propeller without damage to the blades, additionally it also featured another British aviation first, by employing a “puller” engine layout as opposed to the previous “pusher” configurations.
An equally successful but differently targeted airframe model called the Sopwith Tabloid, garnered the company attention through its well-earned performance and speed accolades, despite being of limited military use, this model nonetheless paved the way to alternative and increasingly capable aircraft designs.
The two aircraft not mentioned in the above list were both individually in their own right to become the most influential of any of the Allied aircraft deployed in the European World War I aerial amphitheatre. Firstly the Sopwith Triplane received into service during 1916, and admirably dubbed by her pilots to permanently carry the moniker Triplehound, the design strayed from the then accepted success formula that sported monoplane or biplane designs to present a triple wing, in an attempt to combine and incorporate numerous desirable elements from other aircraft into one successful aerial platform. The resultant aircraft was a devastatingly effective aerial acrobat that offered unparalleled manoeuvrability match to an outstanding climbing rate, so effective in its lethality it prompted the German war machine into developing its own lethal weapon the legendary Fokker Dr I Triplane.
The second notable Sopwith model called the Camel, taken into service during 1917 to replace the Pup, a single seated biplane fighter was pivotal in the Allied forces air campaign, providing an unrivalled punch that made it the most significant British fighter plane during the biggest airborne battle in history. This earned the famous overachiever a respected spot in popular culture for numerous decades.