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"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.

With 54 victories, South African Anthony Beauchamp Proctor downed more enemy aircraft with this plane than any other ace.

207 pilots died in combat and 79 pilots died from non-combat related causes while flying the S.E.5 and S.E.5a during World War I.
 
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 and S.E.5a Specifications
Country: Great Britain
Manufacturer: Royal Aircraft Factory
Type: Fighter
Entered Service: 7 April 1917 (S.E.5)
June 1917 (S.E.5a)
Number Built: 5,205 (S.E.5 and S.E.5a)
Engine(s): Hispano-Suiza, water cooled, 200 hp (manufacturing problems)
Wolseley W4a Viper, 200 hp
Wing Span: 26 ft 7 3/8 in (8.11 m)
Length: 20 ft 11 in (6.38 m)
Height: 9 ft 6 in
Empty Weight:
Gross Weight: 1988 lb (902 kg)
Max Speed: 120 mph (193 km/h) at 15,000 ft (4,572 m)
Ceiling: 19,500 ft (5,944 m)
Endurance: 2 hours 30 minutes
Crew: 1
Armament: 1 Vickers .303 (port side of the fuselage)
1 Lewis .303 gun (mounted atop the upper wing)
 
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 and S.E.5a Units
Australian Flying Corps: 2, 6
Royal Air Force: 150, 151
Royal Flying Corps: 1, 17, 24, 29, 32, 40, 41, 47, 56, 60, 61, 64, 72, 74, 84, 85, 92, 111, 145
 
Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 and S.E.5a Aces (209)
21 England Barlow, Leonard Monteagle 20
22 Canada Lagesse, Camille Henri Raoul 20
23 South Africa Ross, Charles Gordon 20
24 England Southey, Walter Alfred 20
25 South Africa Barton, Horace Dale 19
26 USA Kullberg, Harold Albert 19
27 South Africa Reed, Arthur Eden 19
28 USA Lambert, William Carpenter 18
29 New Zealand Caldwell, Keith Logan 17
30 Australia Cowper, Andrew King 17
 
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Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 and S.E.5a Books
S.E.5a in Action (Aircraft, No 69)
John F. Connors, Kevin Wornkey (Illustrator) / Paperback / Squadron Signal Pub 1985
 
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