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After the successful debut of the two-seat Sopwith 1½ Strutter fighter, RNAS ordered the Sopwith 9700 single-seat bomber among six new types for its own needs. At that time the Admiralty were planning great offensive air raids against Germany's industrial centers, but the lack of a suitable aeroplane delayed this idea.
The first single-seat 1½ Strutter was delivered to the RNAS in June 1916, but official acceptance took place in August. At the same time the RFC also ordered the 1½ Strutter from Sopwith, and many subcontractors also began to build this type: Morgan & Co, Hooper, Mann & Egerton, and Westland completed 372 single-seat 1½ Strutters in total.
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