Royal Aircraft Factory SE5a, c 1917.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The SE5a was thought by many pilots to be the best British single-seat fighter World War I. Designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, the first production aircraft was fitted with the 150hp Hispano-Suiza and called the SE5. The SE5a, which followed, had the 200 or 220hp Hispani-Suiza or 200hp Wolseley Viper engine. It was used by twenty-four squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps and Royal Air Force and equipped one squadron of the Australian Flying Corps and two of the United States Air Service on the Western Front. Some of the leading British fighter pilots including Beauchamp-Proctor, Mannock and McCudden and Bishop flew these aeroplanes.