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Title:EXPERIMENTS IN LANDING A SOPWITH CAMEL ON WATER USING INTERNAL AIRBAGS ONLY [Main Title]
Film Number:IWM 629
Summary: Tests used to modify two Sopwith Camels for emergency landings in the water at the Royal Navy base on the Isle of Grain between 20th July and 28th August 1918.
Description: The first test on 20th July is carried out with a Camel without hydrovanes or external air bags. Flying straight and level the machine glides out over the harbour and tries to belly-land on the water. As soon as the wheels touch it turns nose-up and sinks past the cockpit, although not completely. It is recovered by a launch and examined. The impact has twisted the leading edges of the wings and crushed the engine cowling. The second test on 9th August is carried out with another machine, fitted with front and rear hydrovanes - the front set is like a small third wing between the wheels, the rear fits to the tail skid. Again the machine glides in to land and noses-up the instant the wheels touch the water. The launch recovers the plane, which shows similar damage to that done on the earlier test. If anything the damage is worse, with the front hydrovane completely buckled. The third test on 28th August uses the same machine but smaller landing wheels to try and cure the problem. This time the front hydrovane is thinner and set forward of the landing wheels by means of two braces. The machine again glides in to land in the bay, and this time it lands safely, although as soon as it comes to rest the weight of the engine tilts it nose down and it begins to sink, so that the pilot has to crawl up onto the tail. The machine is stable in this position until the launch arrives to tow it back. (Part of the towing sequence shows B3878, the plane from the first test, also being recovered.) A final test is made using a Sopwith Snipe, also fitted with the thinner hydrovane and no external air bags, which has a device to enable it to jettison its wheels before landing. It comes in over the bay, drops its wheels, and lands in the water successfully without nosing up. It is towed back by the launch as dusk falls across the bay, throwing it into silhouette on the very calm water.