The Sopwith Snipe was a British single-seat biplane fighter, conceived as a replacement for the iconic Camel by the Sopwith Aviation Company during the First World War. It came into service a few weeks before the end of the conflict in late 1918 and despite its unimpressive performance it was selected as the standard postwar single-seat fighter of the RAF.
Sopwith Snipe F2367 was one of 200 Snipes built by Sopwith (many were built under contract by other companies) and was allocated to No. 4 Sqn Australian Flying Corps.
Arriving in France in December 1917 the unit claimed more victories than any other AFC unit—199 enemy aircraft destroyed. Eleven pilots from the squadron reached ace status during their 11 months of active service, including Capt Arthur ‘Harry’ Cobby, the AFC’s leading ace with a score of 29.
For most of 1918 No. 4 Sqn was equipped with Sopwith Camels, but they re-equipped with Snipes in October—only the second unit to do so. During the last few weeks of the war the squadron claimed the final 21 of their unit victories while flying the Snipe.
Following the Armistice, No. 4 Sqn was stationed in Bickendorf (Cologne, Germany) as part of the British Army of Occupation. No. 70 Sqn RAF also moved to Bickendorf in December 1918, and in March 1919 re-equipped with 4 Squadron’s Snipes when the AFC unit returned to Australia.
Only two original Sopwith Snipe’s remain and ZK-SNI is a reproduction manufactured by ‘The Vintage Aviator Ltd’ (TVAL) of New Zealand in 2015 and loaned to the WW1 Aviation Heritage Trust in the UK and has the colour scheme of No.70 squadron.