"It's a pixie!" Major Frank Goodden to Henry Folland upon landing after the first flight of SE5 prototype (A4561) at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, 22 November 1916
"... the S.E.5 as the [Royal Aircraft Factory] turned it out was an abortion; it was the pilots of 56 Squadron who turned it into a practical fighter." Cecil Lewis
Disdained by pilots like Albert Ball, the Scout Experimental 5 was soon replaced with the improved S.E.5a. When it entered the war in 1917, it was superior to all its German opponents. Many pilots preferred it to the Sopwith Camel: it was easier to fly, it performed better at high altitude and its inline engine produced less noise. It was also faster than the Camel, allowing a pilot to break off combat at will. In the hands of airmen like William Bishop and Edward Mannock, the S.E.5a developed a reputation as a formidable fighter.