Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a

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Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a

Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a Biplane History
Designed by Henry Folland and John Kenworthy in 1916 for the British RFC, the WW1 RAF SE5a biplane fighter proved to be a superb fighter. Unfortunately, due to initial propeller gearbox problems, the RAF SE5a did not come into service until early 1917, and even then in nowhere near the numbers desired by the WW1 allied air forces. In 1918, once a significant number of them had become operational, the RAF SE5a fighters helped the more numerous Sopwith Camel to end the German aerial dominance that the German Luftstreitkräfte had achieved.

RAF SE5a Fighter Performance
The RAF SE5a had the enviable capability of being manoeuvrable while also representing a stable gun platform and possessing excellent high altitude performance. In reality, these features were highly sought after but rarely achieved in this era. The fact this fighter was faster than any WW1 German fighter was also a very valuable attribute.

The RAF SE5a in WW1 US Service
The RAF SE5a fighter's performance also made it desirable to the American Air Force. They purchased 38 aircraft to equip several squadrons, then decided to have the RAF SE5a fighters mass produced by Curtiss, under licence, in the USA. To facilitate this they purchased 60 RAF SE5a fighters in "kit form" and shipped them home. The abrupt ending of WW1 resulted in the cancellation of the project after only 57 aircraft had been produced, all but one from the kits. However in 1922 fifty of the Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a aircraft, that had been assembled by Curtiss, were converted into trainers by Eberhart Steel Products Co. and re-designated SE-5E for use by the USAAS.

Famous RAF SE5a WW1 Pilots
This fighter aircraft was flown by many of the period's Victoria Cross fighter aces including: Albert Ball, James McCudden, Billy Bishop and Mick Mannock.

Various scale models, model kits and plans of this aircraft have been available in the market place.

RAF SE5a Specifications:

RAF SE5a Crew:
Pilot only
RAF SE5a Length:
20 ft 11 in (6.38 m)
RAF SE5a Wingspan:
26 ft 7 in (8.11 m)
RAF SE5a Height:
9 ft 6 in (2.89 m)
RAF SE5a Wing area:
444 ft² (22.67 m²)
RAF SE5a Maximum takeoff weight:
1,988 lb (902 kg)
RAF SE5a Engine:
Single 200 hp (150 kW) V8 Wolseley Viper
RAF SE5a Maximum speed:
138 mph (222 km/h)
RAF SE5a Maximum Range:
300 miles (483 km)
RAF SE5a Service ceiling:
17,000 ft (5,185 m)

RAF SE5a Armament:

Single .303 in (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun firing through the propeller arc using interrupter gear, Single .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis gun mounted on the upper wing via a Foster mount
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