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Easy Built Models FF-59 Royal Aircraft Factory SE5

[IMAGE Kit FF-59 Royal Aircraft Factory SE5 is a 1/6 scale, flying model that uses the Box and Former method of construction. Pre-1942 design, eligible for Society of Antique Modelers (SAM) contests. This jumbo model is often converted to electric or gas powered flight.

Britain's best fighter planes in WWI were the famed Sopwith Camel and the SE5. The SE5 was faster and more maneuverable than the German fighters and therefore helped maintain Allied air superiority.

This free flight rubber powered kit contains a full-size rolled plan, building and flying instructions, printed balsa wood, hand-picked balsa strip wood, rubber motor, Peck propeller, nose package, clear plastic for the windshield, wheels, landing gear, and Easy Built Lite tissue in olive green and light sky blue.

Easy Built Models FF-59 Royal Aircraft Factory SE5

Wingspan: 50"
Class: Scale flyer
Building Skill / Flying Skill: Experienced / Experienced

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5

[IMAGE The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 was a British biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War. Although the first examples reached the Western Front before the Sopwith Camel and it had a much better overall performance, problems with its Hispano-Suiza engine meant that there was a chronic shortage of S.E.5s until well into 1918 and fewer squadrons were equipped with the type than with the Sopwith fighter. Together with the Camel, the S.E.5 was instrumental in regaining allied air superiority in mid-1917 and maintaining this for the rest of the war, ensuring there was no repetition of "Bloody April" 1917 when losses in the Royal Flying Corps were much heavier than in the Luftstreitkrafte.

The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 ("S.E." for "Scout Experimental") was designed from the outset as an aircraft with a "green" pilot in mind. Additionally, care in the design of the aircraft was taken to make sure it was a platform that was fast enough to produce in some number. Judging by the fact that this aircraft became the air mount of many-an-ace (Billy Bishop, Cecil Lewis and Edward Mannock to name a few) and was produced to the tune of some 5,200 examples, it is safe to say that the design succeeded in its basic goals. The S.E.5 would go on to become the Royal Aircraft Company's most successful offering of The Great War.

If you're ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency. emergency.cdc.gov
An original flying S.E.5a may be seen in the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden, England, UK. This aircraft was originally serial F904 of No. 84 Squadron RAF, then flew as G-EBIA from September 1923 to February 1932. It was restored and passed to the Shuttleworth Collection. Re-registered as G-EBIA, it was first painted as D7000, then as F904.

Two full scale replica S.E.5a aircraft were built by Miles Aircraft in 1965 for use in film making and were transferred to the Irish civil aircraft register in 1967 whilst the two were employed in flying scenes. Both were destroyed in crashes in Ireland during 1970. Full scale replica S.E.5a built by Miles Aircraft in 1965 and used in film making

Another four original airframes are statically displayed at: the Science Museum, London, UK; Royal Air Force Museum, London, UK; South African National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa; and the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.

Three very faithful reproductions (designated Se.5a-1) were built by The Vintage Aviator Limited in New Zealand and these fly from Hood Aerodrome, Masterton. Another SE5a project was started in the UK in the 1980s by John Tetley and "Bill" Sneesby. The machine, built using original plans was transferred to The Memorial Flight (based at La Ferte Alais, in France) to be completed and flown. Some parts are original such as the engine, instruments and fuel tank and the machine is painted in the colours of Lt. H. J. 'Hank' Burden of 56 Squadron as of April 1918.

[IMAGE Design of the S.E.5 (credited to Henry P. Folland, J. Kenworthy and F.W. Goodden) featured equal-spanning upper and lower wings, though staggered with single bays and parallel strut support. The pilot was seated in an open-air cockpit in the relative center of the boxy fuselage, itself constructed of fabric over a wood structure. His position was directly behind and under the upper wing element which provided naturally unobstructed views to the sides, rear and down. The view was somewhat diminished looking forward as the long forward portion of the fuselage housing the engine took up critical space. The undercarriage was fixed with two main landing gear and a tail skid at the rear. Armament consisted of a 7.7mm fixed forward-firing Vickers-type machine gun firing through the two-blade propeller via a Constantinesco interrupter gear and a 7.7mm Lewis-type machine gun on a Foster mounting on the upper wing. The pilot would have to lower the Lewis machine gun by use of a rail to change the ammunition drum on this weapon. The S.E.5 was also capable of carrying four drop bombs externally.

The type achieved first flight on November 22, 1916 and entered service in March of 1917. The base S.E.5 featured the Hispano-Suiza 8 inline engine of 150 horsepower and 77 examples were produced. This model was followed up by the S.E.5a, a platform offering up more power from its Wolseley W.4A Viper V-8 water-cooled inline piston engine of 200 horsepower. These models were initially fielded side-by-side until the S.E.5a overtook the S.E.5 in numbers. An S.E.5b model series was entertained as a follow up design and featured a slightly redesigned nose section and a shorter lower wing span. This model was never produced.

[IMAGE Despite some teething problems with the engine early on and unreliable nature of the Constantinesco interrupter gear for the Vickers machine gun, the S.E.5 series evolved to become one of the best Allied aircraft of the war. The design proved a capable dogfighter (though not on par with the best, she could easily handle herself well enough, at least providing new pilots with a chance at success) but could also double in the light bomber role thanks to the inherent stability in the basic design approach. Handling was reportedly good, no doubt again related to the design approach that had the "green" pilot in mind.

In the end, the S.E.5 proved an overall success. The aircraft played a role in the summer campaigns of 1917 in keeping the German air force at bay. Aviators (some initially disliking the aircraft) remember the type as a reliable, fast and responsive machine. The S.E.5 went on to serve throughout the British Empire and foreign air forces.

A squadron of S.E.5a aircraft. The wartime censor has scratched out serial numbers on the negative - but left the much more revealing squadron markings (actually those of No. 32 Squadron RAF) S.E.5a - Australian War Memorial

[IMAGE The S.E.5 (Scout Experimental 5) was designed by Henry P. Folland, J. Kenworthy and Major Frank W. Goodden of the Royal Aircraft Factory in Farnborough. It was built around the new 150 hp (112 kW) Hispano-Suiza 8a V8 engine which while it provided excellent performance, was initially under-developed and unreliable. The first of three prototypes flew on 22 November 1916. The first two prototypes were lost in crashes (the first killing one of its designers, Major F. W. Goodden on 28 January 1917) due to a weakness in their wing design. The third prototype underwent modification before production commenced; the S.E.5 was known in service as an exceptionally strong aircraft which could be dived at very high speed so these changes were certainly effective.

Like the other significant Royal Aircraft Factory aircraft of the war (B.E.2, F.E.2 and R.E.8) the S.E.5 was inherently stable, making it an excellent gunnery platform but it was also quite manoeverable. It was one of the fastest aircraft of the war at 138 mph (222 km/h), equal at least in speed to the SPAD S.XIII and faster than any standard German type of the period. The S.E.5 was not as effective in a dog fight as the Camel as it was less agile but it was easier and safer to fly, particularly for novice pilots.

[IMAGE The S.E.5 had one synchronised .303-in Vickers machine gun to the Camel's two. It also had a wing-mounted Lewis gun on a Foster mounting, which enabled the pilot to fire at an enemy aircraft from below as well as forward. This was much appreciated by the pilots of the first S.E.5 squadrons as the new "C.C." synchronising gear for the Vickers was unreliable at first. The Vickers gun was mounted on the left side of the fuselage with the breech inside the cockpit. The cockpit was set amidships, making it difficult to see over the long front fuselage, but otherwise visibility was good. Perhaps its greatest advantage over the Camel was its superior performance at altitude - so that (unlike most Allied fighters) it was not outclassed by the Fokker D.VII when that fighter arrived at the front.

Only 77 original S.E.5 aircraft were built before production settled on the improved S.E.5a. The S.E.5a differed from late production examples of the S.E.5 only in the type of engine installed - a geared 200 hp Hispano-Suiza 8b, often turning a large clockwise-rotation four bladed propeller replacing the 150 hp model. In total 5,265 S.E.5s were built by six manufacturers: Austin Motors (1,650), Air Navigation and Engineering Company (560), Curtiss (1), Martinsyde (258), the Royal Aircraft Factory (200), Vickers (2,164) and Wolseley Motor Company (431). A few were converted as two-seat trainers and there were plans for Curtiss to build 1,000 S.E.5s in the United States but only one was completed before the end of the war. At first airframe construction outstripped the very limited supply of French-built Hispano-Suiza engines and squadrons earmarked to receive the new fighter had to soldier on with Airco DH 5s and Nieuport 24s until early 1918.

The introduction of the 200 hp (149 kW) Wolseley Viper, a high-compression version of the Hispano-Suiza made under licence by the Wolseley Motor Company, solved the S.E.5a's engine problems and was adopted as the standard powerplant.

[IMAGE About 38 of the Austin-built S.E.5as were assigned to the American Expeditionary Force with the 25th Aero Squadron getting its aircraft (mostly armed only with the fuselage-mounted Vickers gun) at the very end of the war.

The S.E.5b was a variant of the S.E.5 with a streamlined nose and wings of unequal span and chord. The single example, a converted S.E.5a first flew in early April 1918. It had a spinner on the propeller and a retractable underslung radiator. The S.E.5b was not a true sesquiplane - as the lower wing had two spars. Its performance was little better than the S.E.5a - the increased drag from the large upper wing seems to have cancelled out any benefit from the better streamlined nose. The S.E.5b was not considered for production, probably it was always intended mainly as a research aeroplane. In January 1919 it was tested with standard S.E.5a wings and in this form survived as a research aircraft into the early twenties.

The S.E.5 entered service with No. 56 Squadron RFC in March 1917, although the squadron did not deploy to the Western Front until the following month, among other reasons so that the very large and unpopular "greenhouse" windscreens could be replaced with small rectangular screens of conventional design. The squadron flew its first patrol with the S.E.5 on 22 April. While pilots, some of whom were initially disappointed with the S.E.5, quickly came to appreciate its strength and fine flying qualities, it was universally held to be under-powered and the more powerful S.E.5a began to replace the S.E.5 in June. At this time 56 Squadron was still the only unit flying the new fighter; in fact it was the only operational unit to use the initial 150 hp S.E.5 - all other S.E.5 squadrons used the 200 hp S.E.5a from the outset.

[IMAGE In spite of the very slow build up of new S.E.5a squadrons due to a shortage of the type that lasted well into 1918, by the end of the war the type equipped 21 British Empire squadrons as well as two U.S. squadrons. Many of the top Allied aces flew this fighter including Billy Bishop, Cecil Lewis, Edward Mannock and James McCudden. Legendary British ace Albert Ball was initially disparaging of the S.E.5 but in the end claimed 17 of his 44 victories flying it. McCudden wrote of the S.E.5 "It was very fine to be in a machine that was faster than the Huns, and to know that one could run away just as things got too hot."

An original flying S.E.5a may be seen in the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden, England, UK. This aircraft was originally serial F904 of No. 84 Squadron RAF, then flew as G-EBIA from September 1923 to February 1932. It was restored and passed to the Shuttleworth Collection. Re-registered as G-EBIA, it was first painted as D7000, then as F904.

Another four original airframes are statically displayed at: the Science Museum, London, UK; Royal Air Force Museum, London, UK; South African National Museum of Military History, Johannesburg, South Africa; and the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, Australia.

[IMAGE Three very faithful reproductions (designated Se.5a-1) were built by The Vintage Aviator Limited in New Zealand and these fly from Hood Aerodrome, Masterton. Another SE5a project was started in the UK in the 1980s by John Tetley and "Bill" Sneesby. The machine, built using original plans was transferred to The Memorial Flight (based at La Ferte Alais, in France) to be completed and flown. Some parts are original such as the engine, instruments and fuel tank and the machine is painted in the colours of Lt. H. J. 'Hank' Burden of 56 Squadron as of April 1918.

The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5/5a, rival of the Camel for the title of the most successful British fighter of the First World War, was designed by H. P. Folland, J. Kenworthy and Major F. W. Goodden. and the prototype S.E.5, A4561, appeared in December of 1916. It had the new 150 hp Hispano-Suiza engine with a car-type radiator and short exhaust manifolds. The wings had wire-braced spruce spars; in place of compression struts, some ribs were of solid construction. The tail-plane incidence could be changed in flight. A wire-braced wooden box girder, the fuselage was fabric-covered except for plywood sides from the nose to the front spar of the lower wing, with plywood round the cockpit. The main fuel tank was behind the engine, and there was a gravity tank to port of the center section.

[IMAGE In January 1917 the wings of the prototype collapsed in flight, and Major Goodden was killed. The main planes of subsequent machines were strengthened, their span was reduced and blunter tips were fitted. A few of the early production aircraft, however, retained the wing plan of the first two prototypes.

A Vickers gun fixed on the port side of the fuselage with its breech inside the cockpit, fired through the air screw by means of the Constantinesco synchronizing gear. A Lewis gun on a Foster mounting could be fired ahead over the top wing or directly upwards.

The type first went to France on April 7th, 1917, with No. 56 Squadron. The early machines had celluloid 'greenhouses' over the cockpits; these were liable to be dangerous in a crash, so Major Bloomfield, the CO, had them replaced by flat Triplex windscreens. The gravity tank was soon moved from the top of the wing to a position inside the center section. A few S.E.5s had faired head-rests.

[IMAGE An early installation of a Wolseley Viper engine. In this particular photo the top of the radiator is not the standard shape. Also the under wing fairing is shallower than on production Viper-powered aircraft.

A modified version, the S.E.5a, powered by the 200 hp geared Hispano-Suiza engine, was introduced in June 1917. It had a rather deeper nose than that of the S.E.5, radiator shutters and long exhaust pipes. The standard faired head-rest was frequently removed to improve the rearward view. From December 1917, the front struts of the undercarriage vees were strengthened.

The geared 200 hp engine suffered from manufacturing faults, and there were frequent failures; in addition, engine construction lagged behind airframe manufacture, and the S.E.5a was not available in quantity until well into 1918. Eventually the Wolseley W.4a Viper 200 hp engine, based on the Hispano-Suiza, became standard and there were no more engine difficulties. The Viper's radiator was square and bulky, with short horizontal shutters.

Both friend and foe recognized the S.E.5 as a formidable fighting machine; it was fast, extremely strong and easy to fly. Superior to the Albatross D-III and D-V, the Pfalz D-III and the Fokker Dr.I, it was still not outclassed even when the Fokker D-VII appeared in May 1918. It is significant that the S.E.5a was the aircraft of Mannock (seventy-three victories), Bishop (seventy-two), McCudden (fifty-seven) and Beauchamp-Proctor (fifty-four).

[IMAGE Second only to the Sopwith Camel in reputation as the RFC's outstanding fighter of World War I, the S.E.5 was designed under the direction of H.P. Folland. Of classic tractor biplane configuration, the S.E.5 was initiated to take advantage of the new Hispano-Suiza engine that began test-running in Spain in February 1915 and was in production in France a few weeks later. Two versions of the engine became available during 1916, the basic direct-drive 150hp unit and a geared version producing 200hp. Examples of both were included in the British orders placed in France and, subsequently, with Wolseley for licence-built examples (as the 150hp Python and 200hp Adder respectively). The S.E.5 was intended, from the outset, to be powered by the 200hp geared engine and to be armed with a 7.7mm Lewis machine gun firing through a hollow propeller shaft, but, in the event, early aircraft had to use the 150hp Hispano 8Aa, and had an armament of one Vickers gun in the front fuselage, offset to port, with interrupter gear, and a Lewis on a Foster mount above the centre section. Unarmed, the first of three prototypes of the S.E.5 flew on 22 November 1916. It was a compact single-bay biplane with equi-span wings featuring raked tips, a similarly-raked tailplane, triangular fin and almost rectangular rudder, with a small ventral fin and a V-strut undercarriage. A large windscreen was provided over the front of the cockpit. All major components were of conventional wood construction, with fabric covering. Of two further prototypes, one was similarly powered and first flew on 4 December 1916, whereas the other introduced the 200hp engine and became, effectively, the prototype for the S.E.5a. Production of the S.E.5 was ordered "off the drawing board" with a first batch of 24 built by the RAF at Farnborough, where the first was completed in March 1917. A second batch of 50 followed on, but at least 15 of these were to emerge as S.E.5a's, and some S.E.5s in service were also modified to have 200hp engines. In service with the RFC in France by early 1917, production S.E.5s were modified in various ways, particularly by removal of the windscreen. Other changes tried out on S.E.5s to improve the lateral control were consolidated in the S.E.5a.

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