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Ben Willows Kingston Aviation Timeline

  • Period: to

    Life of Sopwith (then Hawker) Aviation Company

  • Sopwith Aviation Company created

    Sopwith Aviation Company created
    Formed in June 1912 by Thomas Sopwith.
    First premises opened in December near Kingston Railway Station.
  • First Sopwith Plane created

    First Sopwith Plane created
    The first plane to be produced was called the Sopwith Bat Boat. It was an amphibious plane, good for sea landings. It was the first completely British "flying boat". It was used by the British Royal Naval Air force, the German Kaiserliche Marine and the Greek Navy.
  • Britain declares war on Germany

    Britain declares war on Germany
    A Serbian Nationalist shot the heir to the Austrian throne.
    Austria got backed up by Germany, Serbia got backed up by Russia. On the 28th July, Austria and Germany declare war on Serbia and Russia. France then joins the war, as it has a truce with Russia. Germany march through Belgium to get to France, but Britain had sworn to defend Belgium, so they join the war against the Austrians and Germans too. Britain also brings in the British Empire (Australia, Canada, India, South Africa etc).
  • First Sopwith plane built in-war

    First Sopwith plane built in-war
    It was called the Sopwith Admiralty Type 137. It was used in very early torpedo bombing experiments. It was noisy, flimsy, hard to handle and not accurate. Just two were made, and they only stayed in service for five months.
  • First successful interrupter gear built

    First successful interrupter gear built
    In early fighter aircraft, there was a problem; where do we put the guns? Pilots wanted it at the front, so they wouldn't have to aim when flying and shooting, but then the bullets rebounded off the propeller. Though both Allied and Central Powered engineers tried to get the solution, it was the Central Powers (Austria, Germany, Turkey and Bulgaria) who got it; a mechanism that detected when the propeller swung in front of the guns and then stopping the guns from firing.
  • First fighter plane built by Sopwith is first flown

    First fighter plane built by Sopwith is first flown
    Called the Sopwith Pup.
    It was a brilliant plane, with gentle handling and good manoeuvrability. Although eventually outclassed by newer German planes, it was not completely replaced on the Western Front until 1917.
    It was also one of the first British fighter planes to have synchronized machine guns.
  • First triplane to be used in the war built by Sopwith

    First triplane to be used in the war built by Sopwith
    Called (imaginatively) the Sopwith Triplane, it was the first triplane to be used in the war. Triplanes were built because the three wings offer a faster rate of climb and a tighter turning radius, both essential in a plane. The Fokker Dr.1 was a very successful triplane. The Sopwith Triplane was deeply criticised though. It was hard to repair, its wings collapsed in steep dives and it only had one machine gun to fight with. It was relatively useful, and stayed for around 6 months.
  • Sopwith Camel first flown

    Sopwith Camel first flown
    The Sopwith Camel is the most well-known fighter plane from WW1.
    It replaced the Sopwith Triplane and gradually replaced the Sopwith Pup. It had a large arsenal of weapons (2 Vickers machine guns and 4 fuselage bombs), was very light and extremely manoeuvrable. Unfortunately, it was also hard to handle. At the end of the war, it shot down 1,294 enemy planes - the most victories than any other Allied plane.
  • Manfred von Richthofen is shot down

    Manfred von Richthofen is shot down
    Also known as the Red Baron, von Richthofen was the top pilot in the whole of the First World War, with more than 80 aerial victories to his name. He was killed while pursuing a Canadian Pilot, Lieutenant May. A .303 smashed through his chest, causing severe damage to his heart and lungs. It is not sure who killed him, but the Allied forces gave him a lavish funeral, which was criticised by many fighter pilots.
  • Jimmy McCudden is killed

    Jimmy McCudden is killed
    Jimmy McCudden was the top British fighter ace, shooting down 57 planes. He was awarded the most notable medal in the British Army; the Victoria Cross. On the 9th July he landed near a British camp to get directions to his new squadron. He took off in his new SE5a, but then his engine died. McCudden made the fatal mistake of trying to turn back to land, causing the plane to stall and crash. His funeral was a rushed affair; it was not nearly as glamorous as the Red Baron's.
  • WWI ends

    WWI ends
    The war ended with Britain and her allies victorious. During the war, 8.5 million soldiers were killed, and Sopwith Aviation Company produced more than 16,000 planes. Germany suffered fierce reprimands; she had to give land back to France, couldn't build up her army, and had to pay the leaders of the Allied countries. Although these punishments may have seemed only fair, they caused the end of the Kaiser regime and the rise of Adolf Hitler.
  • Sopwith Aviation Company turned bankrupt

    Sopwith Aviation Company turned bankrupt
    Thomas Sopwith had tried many things to keep his company going, like redesigning planes (e.g. a single-winged Camel), producing moterbikes and designing motorcars.
    However, the planes could be purchased at a much lower cost on the black market, and better motorbikes and cars were for sale. The business collapsed in 1920. Sopwith almost immediately, together with his friends Harry Hawker, Fred Sigrist and Bill Eyre, created H.G. Hawker engineering, which would become Hawker Aircraft.
  • Harry Hawker dies

    Harry Hawker dies
    Harry George Hawker MBE, AFC, died less than a year after he set up H.G. Hawker Engineering with Thomas Sopwith and others. Hawker was practising for an aerial display when he suffered a haemorrage. He tried to land, but crashed. Australia, the country from which he claimed nationality, remembered him by putting his portrait on a postage stamp and renaming Moorabbin Airport to Moorabbin "Harry Hawker" Airport.
  • First Hawker plane built

    First Hawker plane built
    The first Hawker plane to be built was called the Hawker Duiker. It was a reconnaissance biplane, in a period where monoplanes were more popular. Many of its parts were built by Vickers, another successful aviation company that also tested on Brooklands. The Duiker was a prototype, and only one was ever built.
  • Hawker Hart built

    Hawker Hart built
    The Hawker Hart was the most successful Hawker plane built since the company's birth. In 1926, the Air Ministry stated a requirement for a two-seat, high-performance, light day-bomber, to be of all-metal construction and with a maximum speed of 160 mph. Avro and de Haviland, two very successful plane companies, tried to come up to these requirements, but only Hawker delivered. It was faster than most fighter planes and had high manoeuvrability, making the Hart one of the best biplane bombers.
  • The Rise of Fascism

    The Rise of Fascism
    Fascism's first roots began in Hungary, but it soon spread to countries that were suffering economically, losing faith in capitalism and looking for a new political order. One of the first fascist country was Italy. Benito Mussolini forced the Prime Minister to give him some power, but more and more power was ousted until Mussolini completely ruled. Germany, Adolf Hitler and the "Aryans" are the most famous, and Japan was an exception; it kept a royal family in its Emperor while being Fascist.
  • Hawker Hurricane built

    Hawker Hurricane built
    The Hawker Hurricane is one of the most recognisable planes ever. Although Hawker would not know it, its new plane would become responsible for 60% of the RAF's victories, and be used by 25 different countries, including United Kingdom, France and, surprisingly, Germany. It was a single seat fighter plane, though it was armed with bombs and bomber variations were made. Althoughshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire, the Hurricane shot more enemy planes and was generally more successful.
  • Hitler starts invading other countries

    Hitler starts invading other countries
    After rising to power and filling Germany with racial and semitic hatred, Adolf Hitler, Fuhrer of the Third Reich, started taking over other countries. First to be invaded was Austria, which borders Germany. Then, in the Munich conference in September 1938, Britain and France handed over a part of Czechslovakia to Germany, hoping to appease their land lust. By March 1939, all of Czechslovakia was under Nazi control.
  • Germany invades Poland

    Germany invades Poland
    After the liquidation of Czechslovakia, both Britain and France told Hitler that they would declare war on Germany if it invaded Poland. Hitler agreed, and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain told the media that "it is peace in our time". Unfortunately not. Germany invaded Poland on the 1st of September 1938, using its unique fighting technique of Blitzkrieg, which sent heavily armoured infantry with air support against Poland's barely armoured infantry and horse cavalry.
  • Britain and France declare war on Germany

    Britain and France declare war on Germany
    For Chamberlain and French Prime Minister Daladier, Germany invading Poland was the last straw. They declared war on the 3rd September 1939, starting the Second World War. For nine months, nothing happened. Then Germany started invading again. Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium all crumbled under the Blitzkrieg power, and finally even France was invaded. All of Europe, excepting neutral countries, Italy and Eastern Europe (invaded by Russia, who had a truce with Germany) was invaded.
  • Hawker Typhoon bomber built

    Hawker Typhoon bomber built
    The Hawker Typhoon was a single seat fighter plane, designed to be a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane. However, it had several problems, and for several months after its introduction in 1941, the Typhoon's future was doubtful. But when the Luftwaffe introduced the formidable Focke-Wulf into service, the Typhoon was the best plane at fighting them. From late 1942, the Typhoon was adapted to include bombs, and the Typhoon was recognised as one of the best ground-attack planes in WW2.
  • The Battle of Britain begins.

    The Battle of Britain begins.
    The Battle of Britain was the first campaign fought entirely by air forces (though the RAF had some help from anti-aircraft guns on the ground). The main plane used by the RAF was the Hawker Hurricane, though the Supermarine Spitfire truly challanged the Luftwaffe's Messersmichts and Focke-Wulfs. The campaign lasted three months and three days. It ended in a decisive Allied victory, and stopped Operation Sea Lion - a Nazi plan to invade Britain.
  • VJ Day & End of the Second World War

    VJ Day & End of the Second World War
    Although Benito Mussolini had been hanged by an angry mob on 28th April, and Adolf Hitler commited suicide two days later, Japan continued to fight. In the end, the USA had to drop two atomic bombs and destroy two towns before Japan surrended. The war had took over 7 million lives, and to punish Germany, the main Allied powers (Britain, France, USA & Soviet Union) split Berlin in half with a giant wall; Churchill (Britain) and Truman (USA) owned West Germany, Stalin (USSR) owned East Germany.
  • Hawker Sea Hawk built

    Hawker Sea Hawk built
    The Hawker Sea Hawk was a single seat jet fighter, and the first jet plane ever built by Hawker aircraft. It was a reliable naval fighter, used by the Royal Navy, the German Navy, the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Indian Navy. It excelled in the Suez crisis, causing immense damage to a number of Egyptian targets. It was also used in the 1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistani Wars.
  • Hawker Hunter built

    Hawker Hunter built
    The Hawker Hunter was a subsonic fighter jet and is counted as the most successful fighter plane designed by Hawker after WWII. Although built in 1951, it remained in the RAF until the early 1990's, and is still in service today in the Lebanese Air Force. It was used for reconnaissance in the Cold War and fought in many campaigns, including the Suez Crisis. A Hawker Hunter also broke the world air speed record, achieving 727.63 mph.
  • Hawker P.1127 built

    Hawker P.1127 built
    The Hawker P.1127 was a prototype that led to the building of the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel, which in turn gave birth to the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. The P.1127 was an experimental plane, so did not see action in any major or minor conflict. The main thing about the P.1127 was that it was the last plane to be branded under the Hawker name. Though planes would be created under the Hawker Siddeley brand name, the individual Hawker aircraft name was no more.
  • Hawker Siddeley Harrier built

    Hawker Siddeley Harrier built
    The Hawker Siddeley Harrier was the first recconaissance and ground-attack plane able to take off with either no or a short take-off. It was developed directly from prototypes of the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel, a plane that was not succesful in its years of service. The Harrier, however, was very successful. It was armed with several bombs and two cannon gun pods, and was so manoeuvrable that it could be used to fight other aircraft in-flight. The Harrier saw action in many conflicts.
  • Falklands War started

    Falklands War started
    The Falklands War started when Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, under British rule. Argentinians regarded the wars as an attempt to win back land that was stolen from them, while Britain regarded it as an uncalled for invasion. Margeret Thatcher, PM of Britain, launched a retaliation against her advisors wishes. During the conflict, 649 Argentine soldiers, 255 British soldiers and 3 Falkland Islanders died. It ended on 14th June with Argentinia's surrender. The matter remains disputed.
  • Thomas Sopwith dies

    Thomas Sopwith dies
    The founder of Sopwith Aviation Company and co-founder of Hawker Aircraft, Sir Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith, died in Hampshire at 101 years of age. He was knighted, awarded a CBE and was part of the Men's Ice Hockey team that won a gold medal in the first European Championship in 1910. His 100th birthday was awarded by a flypast of military aircraft over his house.