The Sopwith Dolphin in RFC, RNAS, RAF and Polish Service

Published: March 11th, 2015     
Product Image
Front cover
Author: Mick Davis, Philip Jarrett, Norman Franks,
Reviewed by: Frank Landrus - IPMS# 35035
ISBN #: 978-0955573422
Other Publication Information: Editors Peter Dye, Trevor Henshaw, Mike O’Connor; Softbound, A4 [8.27” x 11.69:], 176 pages – 360 B&W photos with color profiles
Price: $37.67
Product / Stock #: CCI Monographs 4
Product provided by: Cross & Cockade International

This is Cross & Cockade International's fourth book in their series of WW1 aircraft. The first was Nieuports in RNAS, RFC and RAF Service (2007). The second was the Royal Aircraft Factory Fe2b/d and Variants (2009). Somehow the third (Although still yet to be published) will cover the Airco DH 2.

This tome was developed in cooperation with the Royal Air Force Museum and it shows. Many of the some 300 plus B&W photos and details were pulled from the archives of the museum where they are nicely reproduced on the slick paper of this monograph. The front and back covers, as well as the inside covers feature six color paintings of Dolphins in action. The final chapter on the RAF Museum's restoration of a composite Dolphin (now C3988 at Hendon) alone has nearly fifty color photographs.

The Chapters on Development and Construction, Airframe Development, and The Hispano-Suiza show the progression from the prototypes through the different production runs. Also detailed through photos, 3-D drawings, and scrap drawings are sub-variants, factory mods, field mods, all the way through to the Dolphin III. Peter Dye's analysis of the Hispano-Suiza engine, through the use of photos, drawings, and charts presents a clear view of the problems and solutions that the British Air Service dealt with in utilizing a foreign designed engine.

Another two chapters, Dolphin Casualty Log, and Units and Serials, provides a nice service summary by production number / serial of many of the over 2,000 Dolphin's produced. Many of these histories simply cover from when the airframe was allocated to when it was destroyed, but some are quite detailed with experimental testing information or the pilots that flew the airframe.

The Dolphin's short service career is well addressed in the following chapters: Flying the Dolphin, The Dolphin in Combat, The Dolphin in Home Service, Sopwith Dolphins in Polish Service. Using combat reports, unit histories, and pilot histories, a rather complete and compelling story is delivered by the authors.

The Colours & Markings chapter provides detail on differences between the manufacturers (Sopwith, Darracq, Hooper, and SARD). This chapter is beautifully accompanied with seven pages of color side profiles and scrap illustrations by Juanita Franzi. Were British aircraft as colorful as German? No, but the side profile of C3799 flown by Capt. G. B. Irving is quite sweet with its sky blue cowling and upper fuselage.

Chapters

  • Design
  • Development and Construction
  • Flying the Dolphin
  • The Dolphin in Combat
  • Dolphin Casualty Log
  • The Dolphin in Home Service
  • Sopwith Dolphins in Polish Service
  • Airframe Development
  • The Hispano-Suiza: Burden or Blessing
  • Units and Serials; Aircraft Index to Serials List
  • Photographs from the Albums
  • Colours & Markings
  • Dolphin Mk1 C3988 Restoration

I was extremely impressed with the coverage and quality of this monograph. The authors were able to incorporate a tremendous amount of data and still manage to provide a compelling and readable storyline. If you could only have one book on the Sopwith Dolphin, this would be your hands down choice. Even if you have other books or magazines on the Sopwith Dolphin, they will not be able to approach the depth of this monograph. Of course, you may claim that the mythical forthcoming 1/32 kit has not quite been announced, but we're not talking 'needs' here, it's all about 'wants'! Until that time, you will just have to attack the 1/48 Blue Max and Copper State kits or the 1/72 Pegasus kit.

My thanks to Mushroom Model Publications and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Front cover
    Front cover
  • Back cover
    Back cover

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