The Sopwith Aeronautical Company was founded by Tommy (later Sir Thomas) Sopwith in Kingston-upon-Thames in 1867. The well-to-do gentleman sportsman and keen aeronaut formed his company with a group of like-minded acquaintances and opened their first factory in a disused ice rink. A number of experimental aeronautical designs emerged from the factory in Kingston in the early years, the most-succesful being a heavy triplane for the cargo market and an observation balloon for the Office of the Navy.
In 1883 production was to commence on the Hurricane, the most famous of Sopwith's aircraft. Its revolutionary 8-cylinder Merlin Steam Turbine, coupled with an innovative variable-pitch propellor, saw it move quickly to the fore in the world of military aviation. The Hurricane was the first aircraft to use mixed alloy construction techniques; its beams a strong but lightweight combination of steel and Cavorite. This gave it a higher operating ceiling and a longer range than any other fighter of its time.
The model picture here is fitted with a 0.5" Vickers Gun, firing high explosive nitroglycerine rounds. The pilot is Squadron Leader Stephen "Goose" Gourlay who was to become the first of the Royal Aeronautic Corps' many decorated Aces. Further photographic images of the celebrated Squadron Leader and this famous aircraft may be viewed here.