Sopwith Pup:Wing Brackets

SopwithPup: Wing Brackets

This was not meant to have been a study in its own right, but out of curiosity I couldn’t help but wonder if there was enough information to actually build an accurate 3D model.

I was also curious why I had received a number of help request emails from my friend about this particular aircraft…so I decided to have a closer look. His latest query was regarding brackets similar to the one I mentioned in my previous post but specifically the centre section connecting brackets to the wings.

The left bracket belongs to the centre section and the right bracket is the connecting bracket for the wing that slots into the centre section bracket.


The bracket dimensions are such that the centre bracket sits proud off the centre spar whilst the wing bracket is embedded in the wing spar, so technically they should just fit into one another without too much problem!! That’s the theory but the reality is it doesn’t quite align with expectations.


This image shows the actual clear dimensions within the top and bottom rib flanges which replicate the perimeter dimensions of the wooden centre spar. In order for the centre section bracket to connect to the spar we would have to notch the top and bottom rib flanges to get it to fit. The horizontal dimension can vary (highlighted) but we will be restricted by the vertical dimension. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to notch the top and bottom flanges as this diminishes its strength. Plus there’s another issue with this…


This preliminary model shows the problem where the centre spar is actually set back one inch to facilitate the incoming connecting bracket from the main wing. Ideally, we need to fully assemble the centre section and have it fitted to the aircraft and aligned prior to fitting the wings, but how can this be done if we can’t screw the rib flanges to the spar? I think in this instance I would shape the wooden spars in such a manner as to facilitate fitting of the flanges and mating with the wing spars.

I have done some research on this and it appears to be a known issue with some clever blokes just redesigning the connectors to make it work better or tapering the wing spar to good effect as shown below.


It looks as though the wing spar is tapered with a smaller bracket sized to fit within the centre bracket. That would work and likely an improvement implemented in the workshop. A very rough preliminary study could look something like this…

…it does need a lot more work but I don’t have a lot of time to develop it further right now!

The design in many respects seems a little rough and ready, but we have to remember in those days they were under a huge amount of pressure to get these aircraft built and get them into the field. The life expectancy of these aircraft was only six weeks so replacements had to be shipped out in rather a quick time.

No disrespect either to Tom Sopwith and his engineers, these things actually flew rather well regardless of the vagaries of the design and what may seem to be annoyances to us may well be things they would naturally deal with in the workshop without any hassle.

It is very tempting to continue developing the Sopwith Pup but to do so efficiently would require setting out the basic geometry for the entire aircraft, identifying the anomalies and determining suitable resolutions as close as possible to the original design intent. I’m not sure I have the time nor the inclination to do so.

This has been a welcome distraction from the P-39 Airacobra project and will likely feature in a few more posts as I will surely continue to receive help requests from my good friend.


About Hugh

BIM & Cad Manager/Strategist, 3D/4D, multi-discipline cad workflows, integration. Interests include photography and historical aviation.
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