Royal Aircraft Factory se5a 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 not anyware near the numbers desired by the WW1 allied air forces. Once a significant number of RAF se5a fighters became operational in 1918 it was able, along side the more numerous Sopwith Camel, to end the German aerial dominance the German Luftstreitkräfte had achieved.
RAF SE5a Fighter Performance
The Royal Aircraft Factory se5a had the enviable capabilities of being manoeuvrable while also representing a stable gun platform and possessing excellent high altitude performance, features always sought after but rarely achieved in reality in this era, the fact that the RAF se5a fighter was faster than any WWI German fighter which was also a very valuable attribute.
The RAF SE5a in WW1 US Service
The se5a's performance made it desirable to the American Air Force, they purchased and 38 aircraft to equip several squadrons of them, they then decided to have the RAF se5a fighters mass produced in the USA under licence by Curtiss. To facilitate this they purchased 60 RAF se5a fighters in "kit form and shipped them home, the abrupt ending of WWI resulted in the cancellation of the project after only 57 RAF se5a fighters aircraft had been produced, all but one from the kits, however in 1922 50 of the Royal Aircraft Factory se5a's assembled by Curtiss were converted into trainers by Eberhart Steel Products Co and re-designated RAF se5a fighters as the Eberhart SE-5E for use by the USAAS.
Famous RAF SE5a WW1 Pilots
The Royal Aircraft Factory se5a fighter was flown by many of the periods Victoria Cross fighter aces including Albert Ball, James McCudden, Billy Bishop and Mick Mannock.
Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a Specifications:
Crew: Pilot only
Length: 20 ft 11 in (6.38 m)
Wingspan: 26 ft 7 in (8.11 m)
Height: 9 ft 6 in (2.89 m)
Wing area: 444 ft² (22.67 m²)
Maximum takeoff weight: 1,988 lb (902 kg)
Engine: Single 200 hp (150 kW) V8 Wolseley Viper
Maximum speed: 138 mph (222 km/h)
Maximum Range: 300 miles (483 km)
Service ceiling: 17,000 ft (5,185 m)
Royal Aircraft Factory 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