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Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5

United Kingdom (1917)
Picture of Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Picture of Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft Picture of Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft
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As the required training time for new pilots was short, the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 was specifically designed to be easy to fly.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/7/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com

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.

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.

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.


Picture of the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Picture of the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft



Any available statistics for the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft are showcased in the areas immediately below. Categories include basic specifications covering country-of-origin, operational status, manufacture(s) and total quantitative production. Other qualities showcased are related to structural values (namely dimensions), installed power and standard day performance figures, installed or proposed armament and mission equipment (if any), global users (from A-to-Z) and series model variants (if any).




Cockpit picture from the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 Cockpit Picture
General Assessment (BETA)
Firepower  
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Performance  
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Survivability  
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Versatility  
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Impact  
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Rating: 72 (of 100)
The rating is an internal assessment derived from forty factors pertaining to this entry.
Relative Maximum Speed Rating
Hi: 150mph
Lo: 75mph
    This entry's maximum listed speed (138mph).

    Graph average of 112.5 miles-per-hour.
Relative Operational Ranges
NYC
 
  LON
LON
 
  PAR
PAR
 
  BER
BER
 
  MOS
MOS
 
  TOK
TOK
 
  SYD
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  LAX
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  NYC
Graph showcases the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era Impact
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production Comparison
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units
5205
5205


  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.


Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
  Compare this entry against other aircraft using our Comparison Tool  
Supported Mission Types:
Air-to-Air
Interception
Unmanned
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Training
Anti-Submarine
Anti-Ship
Airborne Early Warning
MEDEVAC
Electronic Warfare
Maritime/Navy
Aerial Tanker
Utility/Transport
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Search/Rescue
Recon/Scouting
Special Forces
X-Plane/Development
National Flag Graphic
National Origin: United Kingdom
Service Year: 1917
Classification Type: Single-Seat, Single-Engine Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Manufacturer(s): Royal Aircraft Factory - UK / Eberhart Steel Products Company - USA
Production Units: 5,205
Operational Status: Retired, Out-of-Service
Global Operators:
Australia; Canada; Poland; South Africa; United Kingdom; United States
Structural - Crew, Dimensions, and Weights:
Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.

Operational
CREW


Personnel
1


Dimension
LENGTH


Feet
20.93 ft


Meters
6.38 m


Dimension
WIDTH


Feet
26.64 ft


Meters
8.12 m


Dimension
HEIGHT


Feet
9.51 ft


Meters
2.9 m


Weight
EMPTY


Pounds
1,431 lb


Kilograms
649 kg


Weight
LOADED


Pounds
1,940 lb


Kilograms
880 kg

Installed Power - Standard Day Performance:
1 x Wolseley W.4A Viper V-8 water-cooled inline piston engine developing 200 horsepower driving a two-bladed propeller unit at the nose.

Performance
SPEED


Miles-per-Hour
138 mph


Kilometers-per-Hour
222 kph


Knots
120 kts


Performance
RANGE


Miles
300 mi


Kilometers
483 km


Nautical Miles
261 nm


Performance
CEILING


Feet
16,995 ft


Meters
5,180 m


Miles
3.22 mi


Performance
CLIMB RATE


Feet-per-Minute
754 ft/min


Meters-per-Minute
230 m/min

Armament - Hardpoints (4):

STANDARD:
1 x 7.7mm synchronized forward-firing Vickers machine gun
1 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun (flexible Foster mount on upper wing).

OPTIONAL:
4 x 25lb bombs
Visual Armory:

Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Variants: Series Model Variants
• S.E.5 - Initial Production Version designation; fitted with Hispano-Suiza 150hp engine.
• S.E.5a - "Improved" S.E.5 model; fitted with 200hp engine; shortened wings and integrated pilot head-rest.
• S.E.5b - Redesigned wings (shorter lower wing) and nose sections; single production example.
• S.E.5e - US Army Air Service Designaton for S.E.5a models produced in America and fitted with Wright-Hispano "E" series engines of 180 horsepower.
• "Eberhart" S.E.5e - Eberhart Aeroplane modified S.E.5a models (50 total) with Wright-Hispano E engines of 180 horsepower.