Display identity: N6460
On display in the Caldwell Gallery
One of the leading British fighter aircraft of World War One, the Sopwith Pup had the claim to fame of being the first aircraft to take off and land on a ship.
The Pup was produced by the Sopwith Aviation Company Ltd in 1916 to meet a British Admiralty requirement for a fast, single-seat fighting scout aircraft. It saw active service from 1917 to 1918 with both the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).
While the Pup’s main role was to escort bomber and reconnaissance aircraft over the Western Front, it became increasingly engaged in combat, before being largely replaced on the front line in 1917 by the Sopwith Camel. The Pup continued to be used extensively for flying training, and also equipped some British Home Defence squadrons, attacking formations of German Gotha bombers. It carried out some experimental flying, and was the first aircraft to successfully take off and land on a ship, in 1917.
This replica Pup was built in England between 1978 and 1983 by Skysport Engineering and was fitted with an original Le Rhône rotary engine. It crashed on its first flight in July 1986 and was obtained by an Australian collector, but not repaired. The aircraft was acquired by the Air Force Museum of New Zealand in 1995 and restored to static display condition. It is displayed as N6460 of No. 3 (Naval) Squadron RNAS, which was flown by New Zealander Captain Harold Beamish DSC during June and July 1917.