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Feb 21, 2003, 07:03 AM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar

Peter Rakes "Sopwith Tri-Plane"

The plans are in the mail. There will be two of there built one in the USA by myself and the other in Austrailia by Rodd Perrin. I will start this thread out with a few pictures from Pilots and Planes of WWI and the following vebage from the same site.

This should be fun !

From Pilots and Planes of WWI:
The Sopwith Pup was followed by the Triplane, which was passed by the Sopwith experimental department on May 28th, 1916. Looking back, it is hard to realize the revolutionary nature of the Triplane at the time it appeared. Nothing quite like it had ever been built for military purposes, and the best measure of its success is provided by the profusion of German and Austrian single-seat fighter triplanes which appeared after the impact made by the Sopwith Triplane had earned it a eulogy from General von Hoppner, commander of the German air service.

An astonishing variety of triplanes were built by the A.E.G., Albatros, Austrian Aviatik, Brandenburg, D.F.W., Euler, Fokker, Lohner, Oeffag, Pfalz, Roland, Sablatnig, Schutte-Lanz and W.K.F. concerns; and their very numbers hint at an almost frantic search for the elusive quality, presumably thought to be inherent in the triplane configuration, which made the Sopwith Triplane the fine fighting aeroplane that it was.

It has been said that Anthony Fokker was so anxious to produce an aircraft which would be an adequate reply to the new Sopwith fighter that he resorted to subterfuge to obtain an example of the Triplane. He contrived to arrange for the delivery to his works of the remains of a Sopwith Triplane which had been shot down, despite the fact that the aircraft should have gone to the German experimental field at Adlershof. However, the Fokker Dr. I triplane which was ultimately designed by Reinhold Platz, Fokker's chief designer, was a very different aeroplane from the Sopwith Triplane.

In the Sopwith type, the triplane layout was adopted in order to give the pilot the widest possible field of vision, and to ensure maneuverability. The central wing was level with the pilot's eyes and obscured very little of his view, and the narrow chord of all the mainplanes ensured that the top and bottom wings interfered less with his outlook than the wings of a biplane. The narrow chord aided maneuverability, for the shift of the center of pressure with changes of incidence was comparatively small; this permitted the use of a short fuselage. At the same time, the distribution of the wing area over three mainplanes kept the span short and conferred a high rate of roll.

The handling qualities of the Triplane were excellent. It is now regarded as only slightly less maneuverable than the Pup, but many pilots preferred it to the little biplane.

The fuselage and tail-unit were generally similar to those of the Pup in both appearance and construction, but the structure was stressed to take the 110 h.p. Clerget engine. The wing structure was of considerable interest. Each wing had two main spars, 15 inches apart; those of the upper mainplane were solid, but in the middle and bottom wings they were spindled out between the compression struts. The wings were internally cross-braced with wire.

The most interesting structural feature of the Sopwith Triplane was its interplane bracing. On each side there was only a single broad interplane strut which was continuous from the top wing to the bottom, and passed through a shaped slot in the appropriate compression strut of the middle wing. The center section struts were similarly continuous from the center section to the bottom longerons of the fuselage; the middle wings were secured by means of long pins to special aerofoil-shaped stubs on the center-section struts. Bracing wires were few: a single landing wire and double flying-wires were fitted on each side, and there were additional drag-wires on the middle wing. Ailerons were fitted to all three mainplanes, and were hinged to the rear spars. The shape of the wing-tips made them similar to those of the Pup, and a similar tailplane was used. Late production Triplanes had a smaller tailplane in which the leading edge was shorter than the trailing edge.

The armament consisted of a single fixed Vickers gun mounted centrally on top of the fuselage and synchronized to fire forward through the airscrew.

The first prototype Sopwith Triplane, N500, went to France in mid-June, 1916, to undergo Service trials with Naval "A" Fighting Squadron at Furnes. The Triplane was an instant success, and no time was lost in testing it in action, for it was sent up on an interception within a quarter of an hour of its arrival at Furnes.

The picture in the first production "Tripehound".
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Feb 21, 2003, 07:04 AM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar

The Prototype Full Size

Here is a photo of the Sopwith Prototype.
Feb 21, 2003, 07:05 AM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar

Captured and Painted

The Germans captured and painted this one.
Feb 21, 2003, 07:07 AM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar
This picture will come in handy for the rigging. I plan on closed loop controls for the tail feathers.

Will make sure I have both sides of the elevator on this one.
Feb 21, 2003, 07:11 AM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar


I noticed that there is an option for an extended cowl to assist in the balancing. Will this increase the chances of this happening?

I noticed that you mouned the aileron servos in the bottom wing. This will help to keep the top wing lighter greatly reducing the effects of a heavy top wing on nose overs.

This photo was not to imply that this model will have a tendancy to nose over. I do believe this is a subject we should discuss though. If ignored it could be a problem.

Peter has taken this to thought as he designed this model.
Last edited by Robert Hoffman; Feb 21, 2003 at 07:18 AM.
Feb 21, 2003, 10:00 AM
Registered User
Balancing the Tripe shouldn't be too much of a problem anyway, it's smaller than the N11, so the weight of motor/battery will be more effective. The longer nose - all 3/4" of it - will just give a bit of help to the BL brigade.
On the subject of unplanned landings - like the one above, the u/c is pretty well forward so it won't take too much practice to get them right. As long as you don't find a pothole - then, all bets are off.

Last edited by PETERRAKE; Feb 21, 2003 at 10:07 AM.
Feb 21, 2003, 10:08 AM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar
I figured that the LG or UC would be swept forward a little vs the full size. I was planning on keeping as much weight as possible low. Figured this would help counter act the effect of the higher wing.

Is the airfoil and cord consistant through all wings?

Should wait for the plans before asking a bunch of questions though.
Feb 21, 2003, 10:33 AM
Heli Bouncer
Looooeeee!'s Avatar
Peter, Robert,

Would you gents mind if I posted some of my Tripehound pictures here, when I get my scratchbuild under way?

Feb 21, 2003, 12:24 PM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar
It's not a problem for me. You may want to identifiy them as not being the model that PR designed. Just to keep the confusion down.

Can't speak for Peter though.
Feb 21, 2003, 12:36 PM
Ascended Master
Sparky Paul's Avatar
My Dr-1 (.40 powered) would almost always finish a landing resting on the upper wing. I removed the rudder and mounted it with springs, it got hit so many times in the nose overs!
The mass of the engine and all the radio gear over the landing gear, which itself is long, creates a very good nose-over moment if something interferes with a smooth rollout.
Feb 21, 2003, 01:59 PM
Registered User
No problem with me mate, the more the merrier.

No, standard, scale u/c position. It really won't be a major problem - honest guvn'r. If something with as long a nose as the Bristol Scout can be landed properly, the Tripe will be easy. Just think of it as a Pup with three wings.

Feb 21, 2003, 02:11 PM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar
How does this compare with the DR1 as far as UC position relative to CG? I know you are designing one of those as wel. We also discussed this topic quite detailed way back in "Lets Talk Camels!!!" post.
Feb 21, 2003, 08:44 PM
Registered User
I can't do anything until the plans arrive

Any idea what scheme you will use. It would be a shame if we both did the same one

What power system is used for the Tripe? Is it the same one that is used in the N11?

Last edited by Rodd Perrin; Feb 21, 2003 at 08:55 PM.
Feb 21, 2003, 10:22 PM
Over Engineered
Robert Hoffman's Avatar

Color Scheme

I was leaning towards this one. I like the burnished cowl.
Last edited by Robert Hoffman; Feb 21, 2003 at 10:24 PM.
Feb 22, 2003, 06:16 AM
Registered User
The Dr1 has a longer nose than the Sopwith, but a shorter tail too. Perhaps that's why they seem to end up on their top wing so often.

Virtually any fairly 'hot' 600 motor will do, using either the Graupner FG3 gearbox or the Master Airscrews one. Motor mounting is via shell clamps. Model is designed for 8 cells.


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