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Aces of Aviation

Sopwith Triplane of Raymond Collishaw

Sopwith Triplane of Raymond Collishaw

Sopwith Triplane of the 10th Squadron of the RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service), piloted by Flight Commander Raymond Collishaw, in June 1917.

Wingspan: 8.08 meters.

Length: 5.74 meters.

Height: 3.20 meters.

Engine[s]: Clerget 9B of 130 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 187 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 6250 meters.

Range: 483 kilometers.

Armament: One Vickers 0.303-inch machine gun.

Raymond Collishaw had a distinguished career in both world wars. He was the third British and Commonwealth pilot in the first one, and a brilliant and innovative commander in the Western Desert at the beginning of the second one. He was born from English parents in the British Columbia the 22nd November 1893, and was familiarized with navigation at a very early age. In January 1916 he enlisted in the Royal Naval Air Service, and that same year he was destined as pilot of the 3rd Wing of the RNAS. Flying a Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter from Luxeuil-les-Bains, in France, he took part in several bombing missions. He was downed the 27th December, but did not suffer a severe harm.

The 1st February 1917 Collishaw was destined to the 3rd Naval Squadron to fly the Sopwith Pup; he destroyed only one German aircraft before being destined to command the B Patrol of the 10th Naval Squadron. Known as the "Black Patrol", this unit was fully formed by Canadian pilots, and each aircraft had been accordingly named; Collishaw flew the "Black Maria", while the sub-lieutenants J. E. Sharman, W. M. Alexander, E. V. Reid and J. E. Nash flew the "Black Death", "Black Prince", "Black Flag" and "Black Sheep", respectively.

The 15th July Collishaw was downed on the "Black Maria", when his record reached already 37 victories. After a brief staying in Canada he returned to France, where he successively commanded the 13th and 3rd naval squadrons. At the end of the war his record reached 60 victories. He was the third, after Mannock and Bishop, decorated with the Victoria Cross. He received honorific mentions four times, and was mentioned two more times during the 1920s. He received the Order of the British Empire in 1920 and was a member of the Order of the Bath in 1941, being promoted to the rank of Vice-Marshal during the Second World War. He died in Canada in 1976.