Museum Unveils Unique Aircraft

Published on: 16 March 2012

Tommy Sopwith with Peter Dye Director General of the Museum.

The Dolphin reconstruction is a project that has taken over 40 years to complete. It is now on display and is the only one of its kind in the world.

The Sopwith Dolphin single - seat fighting scout served operationally from Jan 1918 to July 1919; at its peak in Oct 1918 it equipped five RAF Squadrons, mainly in France. A handful served with No.141 Squadron on home defence duties. A total of 1,778 were built in Britain 1917-19, with possibly a few others in France; 1,055 remained on RAF charge at the end of Oct.1918. Production ended in August 1919 and the type was declared obsolete 1 Sep 1921.

In the late 1960’s before the Royal Air Force Museum was opened as a public site, plans were afoot to locate parts of the aircraft from across the globe to reconstruct the aircraft.

Restoration work began in the early 1970’s at the Museum’s workshop, with a view to making the only complete example of the Dolphin in the world. Due to the meticulous nature of the process and the length of time taken to source original and replica materials it has taken four decades to ensure that the aircraft has been restored to a level where it is historically accurate in the finest detail.

The aircraft is now on display at the Grahame-White Watch Office at The Royal Air Force Museum London.

Small image, on the previous page, shows Tommy Sopwith, the son of Sir Thomas Sopwith the founder of the Sopwith Aviation Company, about to unveil the Sopwith Dolphin.

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