"Flying Camels was not everyone’s work. They were by far the most difficult of service machines to handle. Many pilots killed themselves by crashing in a right hand spin when they were learning to fly them. A Camel hated an inexperienced hand, and flopped into a frantic spin at the least opportunity. They were unlike ordinary aeroplanes, being quite unstable, immoderately tail-heavy, so light on the controls that the slightest jerk or inaccuracy would hurl them all over the sky, difficult to land, deadly to crash: a list of vices to emasculate the stoutest courage, and the first flight on a Camel was always a terrible ordeal. They were bringing out a two-seater training Camel for dual work, in the hope of reducing that thirty per cent of crashes on first solo flights"
‘I suppose you haven’t run a Clerget engine before.’ (It was a Clerget Camel.) ‘You’ll find it just like a Le Rhone; you’ve taken up the Le Rhone Pup, haven’t you? You’ll find it a bit fierce to start with: you’ve got another forty horse-power and plenty more revs. You’ll soon get to like that. Be careful with your fine adjustment,
they’re a bit tricky on that. Ease it back as much as you can as soon as you’re off the ground, and the higher you get the less juice you’ll find she wants. I expect you’ve heard all about flying them. Be careful of your rudder. You may find it a bit difficult to keep straight at first. Keep just a shade of left rudder on to counteract the twist to the right; when you’re on anything like full throttle you can feel the engine pulling to the right all the time. Remember to use the rudder as little as possible, you hardly want any when you turn. But don’t be afraid of putting on plenty of bank. A Camel’s an aeroplane, not a house with wings, and you can put ‘em over vertical and back again quicker than you can say it. I expect you’ll find three-quarter throttle or so best for getting used to it. Keep her between eighty and ninety at first. Don’t get wind up, and you’ll be quite happy. Now this is what I want you to do. Take your time in running the engine on the ground, so as to get used to it, then go straight up to five thousand all out. You’ll be up there in no time. You’re not to turn or do anything except ease the fine adjustment back below five thousand. Climb at eighty-five. Then you can try turning to the left, all out or throttled down, just as you like. Don’t be afraid of spinning. If you do spin, you know how to get out: pull off the petrol and give her plenty of opposite rudder and stick. Have the stick well forward, but don’t keep it too far forward when she’s coming out, or you’ll dive like hell and lose
a lot of height and jerk yourself about and lord knows what.’
But it was just this instability that gave Camels their good qualities of quickness in manoeuvre. A stable machine had a predilection for normal flying positions, and this had to be
overcome every time you wanted to do anything, whereas a Camel had to be held in flying position all the time, and was out of it in a flash. It was nose light, having a rotary engine weighing next to nothing per horse power, and was rigged tail heavy so that you had to be holding her down all the time. Take your hand off the stick and it would rear right up with a terrific jerk and stand on its tail. Moreover, only having dihedral on the bottom plane gave a Camel a very characteristic elevation. You could tell one five miles off, so that Huns had plenty of time to think twice before attacking. With these unorthodox features, a Camel was a wonderful machine in a scrap. If only it had been fifty per cent faster! There was the rub. A Camel could neither catch anything except by surprise, nor hurry away from an awkward situation, and seldom had the option of accepting or declining combat. But what of it? You couldn’t have everything.
and there is much more 🙂
Yeates, V. M.. Winged Victory