THE SOPWITH TABLOID SS3 – AN 80 GRAM (3 OZ) MODEL
I first came across the SS3 while researching the more familiar Tabloid family. There are some excellent photographs in the Albatros Minidatafile No 6 which allowed me to prepare a working drawing from which I built my first “foamie”, a 35” span version for the GWS gear I stripped out of my Pico Stick. This model weighed about 8 oz and was just a little too large for the power available, although it performed very well indeed when I fitted one of the twin 150 motors, an 1147 prop and a 2-cell LiIon battery. By that time the model was fairly war-weary and it has been retired, to hang, hardware stripped out, in the ceiling of my model room until I can bear to scrap it. Not a process I enjoy! This 24” version was built in response to the capabilities of the Falcon range of ultralight radio equipment. While I was working on the new drawings I came across Jef Raskin’s website (Jef is the inventor of the Click and Drag interface, as well as a host of other innovations, both scientific and aeromodelling) where he too had found the SS3 and had prepared a set of drawings, which differ in a number of respects from mine. I think we will agree to share the honour of “first past the post” but it was close! (Jeff died recently and his interesting and valuable website has been redrafted at http://jef.raskincenter.org/home )
THE REAL THING
At some point in late 1914, Sopwiths made a number of changes to the design of the Tabloid to meet a Royal Navy requirement. The resulting aircraft had quite a different appearance from the earlier versions: the wings were unstaggered, being orientated about the same c of g as the earlier Tabloids and the upper wing was higher above the fuselage, higher even than the protoype. Ailerons were fitted to both wings; steel interplane and cabane section struts replaced the earlier wooden ones. The fuselage alloy side panels ended between the strut locations with a vertical cut-off and a ply panel aft of this line. There was a very obvious dark coloured circular cut-out in the alloy panel above the front wing spar, possibly an access hatch. Finally, the fin and rudder were larger, by about 25%, the tail skid was supported by a nest of struts, to give a degree of steering on the ground and the tailplane was redesigned with a straight leading edge. It sounds like a typical Royal Navy response to an existing specification! These aircraft, numbered 1201 – 1212 were delivered to the RNAS during 1915 and served as scouts on Home Defence and in the Mediterranean until the middle of 1916. My drawings are as accurate as I can make them, taking details from the photographs in the Datafile, except that the wing section is more cambered than the original, to give a better flight performance at slow speeds.
Mike Roach 2002