Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5


Back to the Virtual Aircraft Museum
  FIGHTERVirtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Royal Aircraft Factory  

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5

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.

 ENGINE1 x Hispano Suiza, 149kW
  Take-off weight878 kg1936 lb
  Empty weight635 kg1400 lb
  Wingspan8.51 m28 ft 11 in
  Length6.38 m21 ft 11 in
  Height2.87 m9 ft 5 in
  Wing area23.20 m2249.72 sq ft
  Max. speed196 km/h122 mph
  Ceiling5790 m19000 ft

muhammad amjad mahmood, e-mail, 16.07.2015 12:24

i have worked on different aircraft in Pakistan Air Force,had 18 years experience


David B Nelson, e-mail, 05.06.2012 22:22

my dad flew an SE 5 aircraft in the 1st world war and was stationed in Bagdad, the only information I have is my dads discharge papers in 1917, his name was Samuel Banks Nelson. he joined the british air force before it was renamed the Royal Airforce, I would like to know more about my dads career in the service if anyone has any information about him. thank you for your information (my age now is 82 yrs old)
David Banks Nelson
1275 Elgin St apt 804
postal code L7S1E2
Burlington Ontario Canada


DICK GREENWOOD, e-mail, 17.01.2010 18:58



DICK GREENWOOD, e-mail, 17.01.2010 18:49

Was he thee 'f.o.' Brown ?


d.jay, 11.07.2009 00:22

The photo is of a S.E.5.A not a S.E.5 it did not have a faired pilots head rest.


SYD BROWN, e-mail, 24.04.2008 21:34

My dad flew this for the RCAF in WW1.


robert , frank, widenham ,lye, e-mail, 08.03.2008 14:00

Major f, w, goodden was chief test pilot and also had a lot of input in the se5 project,he was killed when the wings folded at 12,000ft he was the youngest major in the R F C He was also my great uncle.He was killed on Jan 26 1917 and buried in aldershot millitary cemetery along side a friend of his who was killed a few days before, and still bore a wreth saying in loving memory frank goodden.I was given his christian names, frank widenham.I hope this will be of interest.


Do you have any comments?

Name    E-mail


All the World's Rotorcraft

All rhe World's Rotorcraft AVIATION TOP 100 -