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.
The fuselage of the Type 9700 was modified to provide internal stowage for the bomb load. Bays were situated in to the fuselage just above the lower longerons. For easy access to the bomb racks additional doors were installed in the fuselage sides; four bomb doors were installed under the fuselage, opening just before dropping the bomb. The pilot also had a single Vickers synchronized gun. The majority of all single-seat machines were delivered to RNAS units.
Nicknamed Sopwith Bombers, they were intensively used until the more modern DH4 appeared. After withdrawal from the front line, single-seaters were dispersed between various training units; some converted to the Ship Strutter standard and were based on aircraft carriers. Limited quantity of single-seaters were delivered to France (later France built its own licensed version of the 1½ Strutter, named 1.B1). Britain also sold 148 1½ Strutters to Russia, among them at least 39 single-seaters. In spite of criticism, the Sopwith 1½ Strutter was a conceptual forerunner of many successful designs and deserved fame as one of the classic aircraft of World War One.
- Sopwith 1½ Strutter, N 5134 (Westland-built), French Air Force (Aviation Militaire), March 1917.
- Sopwith 1½ Strutter, N 5115 (Sopwith-built), N o 3 Wing, RNAS, November 1916.
- Sopwith 1½ Strutter, N 5201 (Mann, Egerton-built), N o 2 Wing, RNAS, April 1917.
- Sopwith 1½ Strutter, 9706 (Sopwith-built), N o 3 Wing, RNAS, December 1916.