Historic Aviation Collection Pup at IWM
A new arrival at IWM Duxford in August was the Historic Aircraft Collection’s Sopwith Pup, N6161. Located in the Air and Sea exhibition hangar, it is reaching the end of a four-year reconstruction using many original WWI components, including an original 80hp Thulin Le Rhône engine. N6161 was built at Kingston-upon-thames and delivered to St Pol in France on 25 January 1917. The Pup was allocated to No 9 Squadron RFC on 1 February 1917, the day that the squadron was formed. That morning the aircraft was flown by George Elliott, who had just arrived in France and was on his first mission. His was one of two Pups escorting two Sopwith 1 1/ Strutters 2 on a photo-recce flight over Bruges. At 12,500ft they were intercepted by two Rumpler floatplanes, flown by German pilots Carl Meyer and Bernd Niemeyer. The very experienced Meyer managed to force Elliott down to land on the beach in Bredene. N6161 was captured intact and Elliott survived as a prisoner of war.
The undamaged Pup was flown to Nieumunster, where it was photographed in its British markings and then repaired and test flown in German markings. It seems to have later suffered an accident and was photographed on its nose. Some of the original parts of N6161 were retained by Meyer and, together with other personal effects, were passed down to his family following his death, ending up in a small private museum in Alsace from which they were subsequently acquired by the present owner. These surviving original parts from N6161 have been incorporated, alongside other original Sopwith factory and period components, in the Pup’s reconstruction. This work was carried out by Retrotec, the restoration arm of the Historic Aircraft Collection. Hopefully it will have its first public display at the Duxford ‘Meet the Fighters’ airshow on 10-11 September. It will be flown in its original RFC markings initially, but later it is planned to re-paint it in the post-capture German markings.