21 February 1915 – The hunt for the Königsberg is on as Sopwith Folders arrive in East Africa

Two Sopwith Folders (920 and 921) arrived at Niororo Island near the Rufiji Delta in East Africa to join the hunt for the German cruiser SMS Königsberg which has been hiding in the web of rivers, swamps and islands of the Delta since October 1914 and has already sunk the HMS Pegasus and the merchant ship City of Winchester.

Sopwith Folders (Type 807) on the beach at Niororo Island

Two batches of Sopwith Folders were ordered by the Admiralty during the winter of 1914/15. The plane was a specially adapted version of the 1914 circuit of Britain aircraft with wings which fold using the Short Brothers patented mechanism. The type was among the first British naval aircraft to see ship-borne service, with three sent with the Ark Royal for scouting and artillery spotting during the Dardanelles campaign.

Two additional Folders were shipped to Bombay. The planes were then erected on the Quayside on 11 February 1915 and test flown by Flt Lt Watkins and Midshipman Gallehawk RNR under the cover story that they are to establish a flying school in Bombay.

Sopwith Folder 920 on the Bombay Quay

The port wingtip of 920 was damaged on these test flights and had to be repaired on board the HMS Kinfauns Castle during the 3,000 mile voyage southwest to Niororo Island.


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