Since September 1917 German bomber aviation had revised its plan of air campaign against the British Isles: after eight daylight raids the losses of important strategic bombers were too high, therefore, the decision was made to conduct all forthcoming raids only at night. At that point the newly created British Home Defence did not have a dedicated type of fighter interceptor. The majority of planes serving in Home Defence were fighters retired from the front line – a few two-seater Sopwith 1½ Strutter fighters among them.
Captain F.W. Honnett, Flight Commander of “A” Flight No. 78 Sqn (HD) RFC, suggested a modification of one of the 1½ Strutters by moving the pilot’s seat and all the controls into the observer’s position, his argument being poor visibility from the regular pilot’s seat. The original pilot’s position was faired over, and the plane was equipped with a night searchlight.
The first three 1½ Strutters modified to the new standard by the Southern Aircraft Repair Depot joined 78 Sqn in September 1917. During the night raid over London on the night of October 31st/November 1st 1917 they opposed twenty-two enemy Gothas. 78 Sqn pilots dubbed this unusual plane the ‘Comic fighter’. Initially the armament of this aircraft consisted of only a single course Vickers gun; later Comics were equipped with a Lewis gun on a flexible Foster mounting. It should be also mentioned that at least one aircraft, namely B762, had two Lewises on a special fixed mounting and could fire at a 70° angle.
1½ Strutter Comics were intensively used by 78 Sqn until February 1918, flying night intercept missions against Gothas and Giant R-planes. Due to the poor performance of this type, it was never put into series production. At the beginning of 1918 the night fighter version of the famous Sopwith Camel (which ironically received the official name Sopwith Comic) replaced the 1½ Strutter Comic and other obsolete night-fighters in many Home Defence units.
- Sopwith 1½ Strutter "Comic Fighter" W/n B'762, No.78(HD) Sqn RFC, based at Martlesham Heath during summer-autumn 1917 and reallocated to Home Defence on August 1917. This aircraft haven't individual pilot and used by all pilots of 78 Squadron.
- Sopwith 1½ Strutter "Comic Fighter" (Hooper-built) w/n A'6906, No.78(HD) Sqn RFC, based at Suttons Farm, flown by Lt. J S Castle, December 1917.