Triplane Builder

Poems by Triplane Builder - William (Bill) Woodall

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The Camel

Camel's the name of a desert beast
(With a hump on the top of its back).
It's stubborn and nasty when you want it to go-
Kicks and spits as a form of attack.

Well way back when--- in W.W. One-
[Sopwith designed many planes]-
One was quirky and stubborn---had a hump on its back-
Dubbed "Camel"--by coiners of names.

With a rotary engine affixed to its nose-
(Twin Vickers just clearing its prop)
Its pilot perched forward-its petrol behind-
Bad news should there be a quick stop!

With a center of gravity set well to aft-
(The antithesis of good stable flights)-
It prowled 'oer the trenches of northeastern France-
When its pilots were looking for fights.

Its rotaries demanding-- when responding to climb-
Were prone to be late to be leaned-
With the "fine" set too rich they were liable to stall---
Its spins to the right---very mean.

The top wing was level-the lowers, up-swept-
Could be told from afar-in the air-
Opponents could judge between battle and leave-
(When its fore or aft view got a stare).

Classy dog-fighter when given the chance-
Could "waltz" with the best it would seem-
Its right turns most fearsome when done with finesse-
"Split-essing" and rolling-a dream.

Whether Clerget, Bentley, Gnome or LeRhone -
Its power had one shining flaw-
Couldn't dive steeply lest over-speed happen-
Altered the chase or withdraw.

Took a large toll on both friend and foe-
This plane with a mind of its own---
Was trusted by those who had learned of its tricks-
Could kill when it spun like a stone.

Feared by pilots who flew on both sides-
Especially those slated to learn---
But liked and respected by those it adopted-
Made them men of distinction--in turn.

Bill Woodall

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