Aeroplane Aviation Archive — Issue 33 The World’s Fastest Aircraft

(Jacob Rumans) #1

The subsequent replacement of the SE5’s
150hp Hispano-Suiza with a more powerful
200hp model, along with further refinements,
produced the SE5a, the first of which began
arriving at No 56 Squadron in June 1917. Fast,
rugged and almost viceless, the SE5a became
a mainstay of the RFC and later of the RAF over
the Western Front right up to the end of the
war. Light on the controls and with innocuous
stalling characteristics, the fighter was usefully
manoeuvrable yet stable enough for the pilot
to shoot accurately at his target. The SE5 was
also solidly built, which meant that it could
be thrown around the sky during a dogfight

Right: These SE5as of No 85 Squadron were built
under sub-contract and have had their serial
numbers deleted by the censor – note that none
of them have headrests. The SE5 was the first
British single-seat fighter to mount two machine
guns. The RAF combined a synchronised Vickers
machine gun in the fuselage with a Lewis firing
over the propeller arc by means of a Foster
mount on the upper wing. The 0.303in Vickers
gun was enclosed in the left fuselage and was
synchronised to fire 400 rounds of belt-fed
ammunition through the propeller. The 0.303in
Lewis gun above the upper wing could be pulled
down for reloading.

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