N6755, Capt. Bernard A. Smart, HMS Furious, July 1918
Bernard Arthur Smart was born on December 24, 1891 in Luton. He qualified as a pilot on July 24, 1916, becoming a Captain in the Royal Naval Air Service. He made himself famous with shooting down the Zeppelin L23 German airship in his Sopwith Pup on August 21, 1917, the 17-men strong crew led by Oblt. Bernhard Dinter was killed. As he took off from a platform on a gun turret of the HMS Yarmouth, he thus achieved the first ever aerial victory with an aircraft launched from a vessel. Smart’s second day of glory came on July 19, 1918, when he led the second wave of “Ship’s Camels” in a raid on the German Zeppelin hangars at Tondern (today Tønder, Denmark). It was the first bombing raid carried from the deck of a Royal Naval Ship. Seven Camels 2F.1 took off from the HMS Furious and managed to destroy two airships (L54 and L60) hidden in the biggest hangar named Toska. A captive baloon in hangar Tobias was also destroyed. The N6755 serial of this Camel is probable and the coloring depicted here shows the aircraft prior to the Tondern raid. For this mission, the roundels on the upper wing as well as on the fuselage and cockade on the rudder were toned down with PC10 or PC12 overspray, under which the insignia colors were only hardly visible. Some sources state the undersides were also oversprayed in one of the aforementioned colors, but the photo of one of the Camels which landed in Denmark on the return leg shows it was not the case. It is not clear whether the nose checkerboard was toned down for the raid as well.
Stewart D. Culley, Special Flight, NS Felixstowe, United Kingdom, July 1917
Stewart Douglas Culley was born on August 23, 1895, in Omaha as the son of an English father and a Canadian mother. After his studies in California and Vermont he joined RNAS in Ottawa on April 19, 1917. A month later he arrived in UK and after training he served at Calshot and Falmouth Naval Air Stations before he moved to Felixstowe. There he made the first successful take off from lighter H3 barge towed by a destroyer steaming at 36 knots. It happened on July 31, 1918 and he used N6812. On Sunday August 11, Culley was in his Camel aboard a lighter towed by HMS Redoubt as a part of the Harwich Strike Force tasked with defending east coast of Britain. When a Zeppelin airship was spotted, Culley took off and it took him about an hour to reach his quarry and attack. One of his machine guns jammed, but he emptied the other one’s magazine into the sky giant setting it afire. His victim was L53 and crew of 19 led by Kapitänleutnant Eduard Prölss died. Just prior to this event, N6812 was modified, sporting two Lewis machine guns mounted atop the upper wing. The fuselage-mounted Vickers was removed and an Aldis gunsight added. Later, the aircraft served with No. 212 Sqn RAF. At the end of its service, it was presented to the IWM, where it is on display until today. Originally, the undersides were painted in light blue, since restoration the Camel sports the natural doped linen.
Furious, April 1918
This 150hp Bentley BR.1 powered 2F.1 Camel was one of the 50 aircraft delivered by the Sopwith Aviation Company under production order contract Nos. A.S.762 and C.P.103733/17. It was delivered to AAP Brooklands on November 22, 1917 and initially served on HMS Nairana seaplane carrier from December 21 and HMS Lion battlecruiser from January 11, 1918. The aircraft was then put into service with HMS Furious from April 6, 1918, but only for a brief period, as it was sent to HMS Glorious two weeks later. RAF Turnhouse and Donibristle were other places of service of this unusually marked “Ship’s Camel”. The reason for the white cross striping on the fuselage is not known, the fuselage roundel was overpainted by color which might be just fresh of the same shade or slightly different one. As in the most cases it is not clear, whether the aircraft was finished in PC10 or PC12. Noteworthy is the dark staining on the bottom side of the fuselage in the area covered by linen. We believe it was made by the same color which was applied on upper sides.
Lion, April–June 1918
This Camel was manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co LTD in January 1917 and was finished in the standard colors. For whatever reason the fuselage and wings needed re-covering sometime in the period between April and June 1918 and N6764 was photographed on board of HMS Lion in this appearance. The new cover was left in doped linen color, only the horizontal stabilizer kept its original camouflage and the tricolor on the elevator, which was the typical feature of the aircraft manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co LTD company. The aircraft served also on the Donibristle and Rosyth air bases.
HMAS Sydney, mid 1918
This “Ship’s Camel” is one of those manufactured by Sir William Beardmore & Co LTD and sports the typical tricolor elevator, kind of a trademark of this company. It was a Bentley BR.1 powered aircraft and was delivered to Aviation Acceptance Park in Renfrew on June 20, 1918. From there it was subsequently sent to HMAS Sydney light cruiser. There it served with several interruptions for maintenance (or due to other reasons) at the mainland bases until November 21, 1918.
Vindictive, Koivisto, Finland, October 1919
The N8130 was an aircraft manufactured by Hooper & Co Ltd and one of the 50 “Ship’s Camels” from the penultimate order of this type under contract Nos. 38a/906/C947 & A.S.37354/18. As the first from this batch, it was originally intended as the presentation aircraft and was given the name Tamworth. It was sent aboard HMS Argus on May 19, 1919, then to HMS Vindictive as one of the eight Camels sent to join the fighting against Russian Bolsheviks. There it was used in the fighter-bomber role. On return it served with No. 203 Squadron and served on board of HMS Argus again. The Tamworth inscription was painted on the starboard side of the fuselage, as the photo shows. It is not known, whether it was on port side as well, but the decal sheet contains two inscriptions. Just in case … There is also a stitched area on the starboard, probably a field repair of damage.