His­toric Avi­a­tion Col­lec­tion Pup at IWM

Pilot - - OLD TIMERS - Re­port & photo 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.

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