View Full Version : Would like help to ID a prop blade please?

10-03-2016, 09:07 AM
Hi there,
Im new to the world of vintage propeller collecting but have been offered this prop. It has relevant links to my family so am quite keen to buy it..
I have included some pictures which should hopefully help with identification.
An idea of value would be great too..

Many thanks..


10-03-2016, 01:41 PM
It's hard to tell the numbers from the photographs. Can you read them? (It looks as if the surface has been sanded, which can make the stampings hard to read.)

Sometimes you need to use a magnifying glass and move the light source around to varying angles to be able to read them, but they are extremely important to know if you want positive identification, which isn't always possible but it certainly more likely with stamped data.

With what I see it may very well be a Sopwith Camel prop. "F1" seems pretty clear and that's a model number for the Camel. The 130 Clerget engine is correct for a Camel, and the diameter and pitch are also correct, as is the "RH" for "right hand" rotation. What I can't read clearly, but you may be able to infer is the bottom stamping on the photo with "F1" at the top. If that was stamped "AD 644" or "DWG AD 644", then it's clearly a match for the Camel.

See this page (http://www.woodenpropeller.com/Sopwith_Camel.html) for a similar (if not identical) prop. Also this page (http://woodenpropeller.com/Camel.html).

10-03-2016, 06:19 PM
Thats great! Thanks very much for the information, i can definately make out the 644, until its in my hands though i guess i wont be sure.. When it arrives I shall see what else i can find and post some better pictures.. If it is definately from a Camel could you put an approximate value to it? I have tried to find previous sales figures but so far come up with nothing..

The prop in question was found by the current owner residing in the rafters of an old shed in the early 1960's following clues given to him by my grandmother in a story. According to my father she remembered a bi-plane making an emergency landing close to where she lived at the time, this would have been around 1917-18. on landing the propeller blade was damaged and whilst the aircraft was repaired a new blade was brought to the site (possibly from Boulton & Paul which was only a few miles away?) and fitted. The damaged one was left at the site and recovered by the owner of said shed. On hearing this story the present owner visited the area and after asking around was directed to the old shed and there was the propeller! Due to the interest he showed it was gifted to him.
Following this he removed the canvas covering which was in a poor state and had it polished.. obviously it would have been nice had it retained its originality but I think the fact that it even exists is quite amazing!

10-03-2016, 08:34 PM
There's no question that there's a high demand for Camel propellers. But like all propellers, condition is a key determinant and refinishing, no matter when it was done, detracts considerably from the value. I have sold two Camel props, neither in original condition, and each one sold for something in the $2000 range as I recall.

In your case, with the family history involved in its provenance, I wouldn't dwell on present value. Document the story with as much detail and evidence as best you can and then just keep it for as long as you can. With a little luck it will be worth something totally different in the not-too-distant future.

10-04-2016, 04:54 AM
Thanks for the reply..
Yes I agree as with any 'collectable' its all down to originality and condition.
I have heard the story of this prop for many years and have always shown an interest in being its custodian, the only reason I ask about the value is it has a substantial price tag and i just wanted to get an idea of where am am with thi.s It represents a significant investment for me and other than info i can glean from excellent sources such as this site this is an area of which i know very little.

As for the prop itself i am buying it from a noted and well published Aviation historian who has agreed to write me a letter detailing the story of the prop and his discovering it and i plan to frame this and display it with the prop.

Thanks again.


Bob Gardner
10-06-2016, 04:55 PM
Good Evening Daniel,

A minor note which I hope will help. Sopwith were primarily makers of aircraft to the Royal Navy and hence the drawing number of the prop for the Sop F1 Camel was initially AD644, where AD indicates the Air Department of the Admiralty.

In September 1917 plans were set in place to merge the RNAS and the RFC into the RAF. The Air Board was established to manage this. It took on RN drawing numbers but replaced AD with AB. Hence many propellers from late 1917 to 1918 had drawing numbers which began with AB, for Air Board. It later became the Ministry of Aviation. So your drg number can be either AD644 or AB644. The drg no. AD644 does not necessarily mean that it was built to a RN contract. It would seem that many prop makers continued using the prefix AD long after the RAF came into existence.

Your prop was number 7 in batch 237. (Each batch comprised 100 props) And the government paid about 25 6s 0d for each one. Probably a contract was placed for six batches late in 1917. This might imply that your prop, if it carried a drg no. of AD644, was intended for the RN, but not necessarily that it was fitted to a naval Camel when it was fitted to an aircraft several months later!

With kind regards,


10-08-2016, 04:36 PM
Hi Bob,

Thank you for your reply and the information That's fantastic.. I have now bought the propeller and it is now hanging on my dining room wall mounted on a wooden spigot.. I only wish my ceiling was high enough to be able to spin it!

I have not yet had a proper look at it with a bright light to see if I can make out the lettering.. I'm planning to get it down tomorrow to have a good look and I shall report back with some more photos..

The previous owner has promised to dig out as much info as he can for me from his old journals etc, I hope to visit the area he said he recovered it from and see if I can unearth anymore of its story! (It's only 2 miles away and Well you never know!)

I live Only 15 miles from Norwich in the county of Norfolk where the Boulton & Paul factory was and I'm also only a couple of miles from Covehithe where I read there used to be a RFC airfield which was an RNAS night airfield prior to that! So also a possible link to the RN reference you mention?

Is it possible to tell year of manufacture from the Batch number? I guess this would be tricky as there would be several makers? I have found PP in a circle stamped on it too, I guess there will be inspection marks?


Bob Gardner
10-12-2016, 03:51 PM

Boulton & Paul Ltd made between 1500 and 1575 Sop Camels from late 1917 in about fifty-seven weeks, and the high point was a production of seventy aircraft in one week. They also made propellers for the Camel and it is possible that they made all those required for the Camel production which was three per aircraft; one on the aircraft and two crated spares.

All the B & P props made for the Camel that I have seen, which is only a few, had the drawing number AD644 and for the early part of Camel production in late 1917 all would have gone to the RNAS.

All the aircraft made at B & P would have been test flown before delivery to the RNAS. It might well be that the one that you refer to, which crash-landed, was on a test flight. This of course is only a possibility but statistically the number of B & P Camel flights near Norwich must have been huge compared with other Camel activity. Most of the RNAS Camels went to RNAS Squadrons in France.

With kind regards,


Bob Gardner
10-12-2016, 03:55 PM
Ah! A postscript. The PP stamp that you refer to is the Admiralty airworthiness stamp added by a naval inspector on completion of its manufacture.