|Designer||H.P. Folland |
|Introduction||June 1917 |
|Primary user||U.K. (RFC/RAF)|
|Number built||5,147  [note 1]|
|Developed from||R.A.F. S.E.5|
|Wingspan||8.10 m (26 ft 7 in) |
|Propeller Diam.||2-blade: 2.40 m (7 ft 10.5 in)|
4-blade: 2.36 m (7 ft 9 in)
|Engine||200 Hispano-Suiza or|
200hp Wolseley Viper
|Armament||fixed, sync. Vickers and|
Lewis on Foster mount[note 2]
|Ammo||400 (Vickers) + 4-5 drums of 97 rounds (Lewis)|
|Max Speed||see chart|
|Service Ceiling||see chart|
The S.E.5 was found to be a capable plane, and when the geared 200hp version of the Hispano-Suiza became available, it was mounted, the result being the R.A.F. S.E.5a. The first plane with the new engine arrived at № 56 Squadron in June 1917 and S.E.5a's replaced the S.E.5 in that unit by the end of August. However, there was difficulty in obtaining large quantities of the 200hp engine, both from France and the native Wolseley company. Wolseley was ordered to fall back to making the original ungeared engine, but they chose to improve it to a high-compression version known as the "Wolseley Viper". By January 1918 there were four hundred airframes in storage awaiting engines. In the early months of 1918 the bugs began to be worked out and deliveries from the Mayen firm increased the stock.
In combat the S.E.5a was found to be sturdy and reliable. While it was not as hair-trigger maneuverable as the Sopwith Camel, it could be thrown about without fear of crack-up. Since it was a top-line fighter, it served mostly on the Western Front, but small numbers were used on other fronts and in Home Defense.
As 1918 progressed the engines were refined, moving to 220-240hp Hispano-Suiza's and (at last) the 200hp Wolseley Viper.
The S.E.5a was one of the great fighters of World War One. 
|200hp Hispano-Suiza||2,000 m (6,500 ft) in 6:00
3,000 m (10,000 ft) in 10:20
4,600 m (15,000 ft) in 18:50
|6,700 m (22,000 ft) ||3:00 |
|200hp Wolseley Viper||220 km/h (137 mph) ||1,500 m (5,000 ft) in 4:55
2,000 m (6,500 ft) in 6:20
3,000 m (10,000 ft) in 10:50-11:00
4,600 m (15,000 ft) in 20:50
|5,900 m (19,500 ft)||2:30  - 3:00|
For more information, see Wikipedia:Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5.
Timeline [note 3]
Miniatures and Models
- Shapeways: Columbia Aerodrome, Decapod, wow
- Plastic Kit: Valom 14404, 14418
- Metal kit: Red Eagle
- Wings of War: WW23A Bishop; WW23B Dallas; WW23C Boudwin
- Metal kit: Heroics & Ros GWA102
- Metal kit: Tumbling Dice
- Bruce'69, p.445.
- Angelucci, p.57.
- Lamberton, pp.214-215.
- Angelucci, p.46.
- Bruce'65, p.12.
- Kelly, p.230.
- Bruce'89, p.29.
- Philpott'13, pp.379-444.
- Enzo Angelucci, ed. The Rand McNally Encyclopedia of Military Aircraft, 1914-1980. New York: The Military Press, 1983 edition. ISBN 0-517-41021-4.
- J.M. Bruce. British Aeroplanes 1914-18. Great Britain, Funk & Wagnalls, 1957, 1969. ISBN 0370000382
- J.M. Bruce, Profile Publications 1: The S.E.5A. Great Britain: Profile Publications, Ltd., 1965.
- J.M. Bruce, Windsock Datafile 10: RAF SE5a. Great Britain: Albatros Publications, Ltd., 1989. ISBN 0-948414-16-2
- Kevin Kelly, "Belts and Drums: A Survey of First World War Aircraft Ammunition Totals". Over the Front, Vol. 5, No. 3, Autumn 1990. Walsworth Publishing Co, Inc. and The League of World War I Aviation Historians.
- W.M. Lamberton and E.F. Cheesman, Fighter Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War. Great Britain: Harleyford Publications Limited, 1960.
- Ian Philpott, The Birth of the Royal Air Force. Great Britain: Pen & Sword Books Limited, 2013. ISBN 978-1-78159-333-2