by: Stephen T. Lawson [ ]
Originally published on:
My studies show that it was the brain child of H. P. Folland and Major Frank Widenham Goodden, the SE 5 airframe was modified after the initial batch of 24 (A4845 - A4868.) It was in the middle of the second production batch (A8898 - A8947) that design alterations created the new designation SE 5a. Essentially shortened wings and revised aileron controls were incorporated. In the matter of aircraft nomenclature it is of interest to note that the annotation of the Royal Aircraft Factory drawings states that it was modifications to the mainplane that distinguished the SE 5a from the SE 5. But in the Air Board technical notes are headed; (I) SE 5a, 200hp Hispano - Suiza (II) SE 5, 150hp Hispano - Suiza. The first production SE 5a was A8923.
Here is where noted author Mr. Franks' book excells in this arena of study. Beginning with 56 RFC in April 1917 the use of the SE 5 & 5a airframes flourished. It became the backbone of the air service. Mr. Franks follows the careers of United Kingdom Aces in their service flying his great war horse. If the air service was the modern cavalry the boys flying the SE5 types were the Hussars.
The book has four chapters and the appendices. Most of the colour schemes seem well done , but I challenge the treatment of profile #14 concerning D3511 as a two colour camouflage where it should be three colour camouflage applied in the field. All in all a minor concern. 96 pages of high adventure.
Highs: Clear conscise information on the men and units that were equipped with the Se 5 & 5a aircraft.
Lows: The extensive works of Alex Revell not listed in bibliography. Only one book quoted.
Verdict: If you have any interest in the title or subject it is a very worthwhile investment.
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