BGC-16 “Refueling the Camel”
By early 1917 the British Shell company had a complete monopoly on the supply of aviation fuel to both the British and French armed forces, and also controlled the distribution of gasoline in France via the ‘pool’ system in which petrol companies ‘pooled’ their gasoline in Britain for transport by Shell tankers to ports across the channel in France where the Shell company then established canning centres for the onward supply of gasoline in jerry cans to British and French military forces. They maintained this monopoly until the end of 1917, when the arrival of the US forces brought their own gasoline supply network and for the first time gasoline pumps to replace cans. But Shell aviation fuel was so ubiquitous by this time that contemporary British references to aviation fuel of this period are often made just to “Shell A” (the ‘A’, presumably, for ‘Aviation’ or ‘Aircraft’).
The Sopwith Camel shot down 1,294 enemy aircraft during World War I, more than any other Allied fighter. However, it was so difficult to fly that more men lost their lives while learning to fly it than using it in combat. A total of 5,490 Camels were built.