Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2

The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2 was a single-seater biplane, which was developed before the First World War as the first aircraft in the UK especially as a fast reconnaissance aircraft with only one pilot.


Development and construction:

In 1912, under the direction of Geoffrey de Havilland at Royal Aircraft Factory, the development of a fast reconnaissance aircraft began.

As a basis, a biplane version was taken, this time the crew member should serve both as a pilot and as an observer and so that the aircraft transported only one person.

Initially under the designation B.S.1, a hull of wood with two equal wings emerged. The side control was done by wing distortion and a smaller rudder than the B.E.3. The drive was a double-row, 14-cylinder Gnome Wankel engine with 100 hp.

In early 1913, the prototype of Geoffrey de Havilland was flown for the first time. It showed excellent performance with a top speed of 147.6 km / h, a top speed of 82 km / h and a climb rate of 4,6 meters per second, although the engine did not deliver the hoped 100 hp but only 82 hp. Geoffrey de Havilland, however, was not satisfied with the small oar and criticized the resulting poor maneuverability. After further test flights, he began with the development of a larger rudder. This could not be installed, however, because the plane crashed on March 27, 1913 with de Havilland. He himself broke his jaw while the plane was completely destroyed.

After the accident, the prototype was rebuilt again and a single-row, 14-cylinder Gnome Wankel engine also installed with 100 hp. In addition, triangular fins were mounted above and below the hull and a larger rudder. Initially under the designation B.S.2, the aircraft was later renamed S.E.2 (for Scout Experimental). In October 1913 the first flight was carried out.

After Geoffrey de Havilland left the company and moved to Airco, Henry Folland began in April 1914 to build a new prototype of the S.E.2. The rear of the aircraft was revised again, with larger side and rudder, with new horizontal stabilizers and elevators. In addition, better streamlined struts and streamlined tension wires (Raf wires) have been incorporated. On October 3, 1914, the first flight was carried out with this prototype.

On February 17, 1914, the aircraft was handed over to the 5th Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps for testing, in March, the 3rd Squadron received the aircraft for testing purposes. In April, it was returned to the Royal Aircraft Factory.



Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2


Royal Aircraft Factory B.S.1


Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2




Use in the First World War:

After a few changes of the aircraft that fell back on the tests in the two squadrons, the modified version was brought to France on October 27, 1914 and assigned there to the 3rd Squadron.

Before the first use at the front a provisional armament was attached. The two rifles were attached to the side of the fuselage and aimed at the propeller to avoid damaging it when firing.

In the early months of the war, the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2 was among the fastest aircraft over the Western Front.

In March 1915, however, it was damaged by a bomb and had to be returned to the UK. There it was finally scrapped, since it was already working on a successor model.




Technical specifications:

Designation: Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2
Country: Great Britain
Typ: Reconnaissance plane
Length: 6,25 meters
Span: 8,38 meters
Height: 2,39 meters
Mass: 327 kg empty
Crew: Max. 1
Engine: A Gnôme circulating motor with 80 hp
Maximum speed: 155 km/h
Reach: Max. 2 hours and 30 minutes
Armament: 2 x 7,7 mm machine guns






You can find the right literature here:


The First Air War, 1914-1918

The First Air War, 1914-1918 Hardcover – December 1, 1990

In this concise study, Kennett tells the complete story of World War I's air battles, from Eastern to Western front, from the skies of Europe and its seas to those of the Middle East and Africa.

Click here!



Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide)

Aircraft of World War I 1914-1918 (Essential Identification Guide) 2nd Edition

Illustrated with detailed artworks of combat aircraft and their markings, Aircraft of World War I: The Essential Aircraft Identification Guide is a comprehensive study of the aircraft that fought in the Great War of 1914–18. Arranged chronologically by theatre of war and campaign, this book offers a complete organizational breakdown of the units on all the fronts, including the Eastern and Italian Fronts. Each campaign includes a compact history of the role and impact of aircraft on the course of the conflict, as well as orders of battle, lists of commanders and campaign aces such as Manfred von Richtofen, Eddie Rickenbacker, Albert Ball and many more. Every type of aircraft is featured, including the numerous variations and types of well- known models, such as the Fokker Dr.I, the Sopwith Camel and the SPAD SVII, through to lesser-known aircraft, such as the Rumpler C.1, and the Amstrong Whitworth FK8. Each aircraft profile is accompanied by exhaustive specifications, as well as details of individual and unit markings. Packed with more than 200 color profiles of every major type of combat aircraft from the era, Aircraft of World War I 1914–1918 is an essential reference guide for modellers, military historians and aircraft enthusiasts.

Click here!



World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF

World War One Aircraft Carrier Pioneer: The Story and Diaries of Captain JM McCleery RNAS/RAF Hardcover – June 13, 2011

Jack McCleery was born in Belfast in 1898, the son of a mill owning family. He joined the RNAS in 1916 as a Probationary Flight Officer. During the next ten months he completed his training at Crystal Palace, Eastchurch, Cranwell, Frieston, Calshot and Isle of Grain, flying more than a dozen landplanes, seaplanes and flying boats, gaining his wings as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant. In July 1917 he was posted to the newly commissioning aircraft carrier HMS Furious, which would be based at Scapa Flow and Rosyth. He served in this ship until February 1919, flying Short 184 seaplanes and then Sopwith 1½ Strutters off the deck. He also flew a large number of other types during this time from shore stations at Turnhouse, East Fortune and Donibristle.

He served with important and well-known naval airmen including Dunning, Rutland (of Jutland) and Bell Davies VC. He witnessed Dunning’s first successful landing on a carrier flying a Sopwith Pup in 1917 and his tragic death a few days later. He also witnessed the Tondern raid in 1918, the world’s first carrier strike mission. He took part in more than a dozen sweeps into the North Sea by elements of the Grand Fleet and Battle Cruiser Fleet. He carried out reconnaissance missions off the coast of Denmark, landing in the sea to be picked up by waiting destroyers. He witnessed the surrender of the High Seas Fleet. Promoted to Captain, he acted as temporary CO of F Squadron for a time postwar.

Click here!



A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness

A World War 1 Adventure: The Life and Times of RNAS Bomber Pilot Donald E. Harkness Paperback – June 25, 2014

A deeply personal and revealing eyewitness narrative of one airman's life as a bomber pilot in England 's RNAS (Royal Naval Air Service) in WWI. It is a true story, an adventure, and a war memoir carefully constructed from Captain Donald E. Harkness's unpublished diaries, letters, sketches and photographs - only recently uncovered nearly a century later - that documented his remarkable experiences and military adventures over England, France and Belgium. The first book written by a highly decorated WWI flyer from New Zealand that captures the "behind the scenes" life of RNAS pilots, as well as the surprises, terrors, traumas, humor, and sheer excitement of an aerial form of combat never before experienced by anyone, anywhere - and only eleven short years after the Wright Brothers historic flight at Kitty Hawk. With a talent for writing, Don begins an epic journey at a major turning point in history when the world is poised at the dawn of flight, and bracing itself for unknown dangers of unprecedented sophistication and savagery. Don's journal reveals unique insights and vivid imagery of another time and experience, to wit: - the terror and devastation of a Zeppelin bombing raid in London - the training regimen of early flying schools, and their serious & comic episodes - the wonder, awe, and poetry of flying aloft in the majestic heavens - vivid bombing raids, plus the raid that earned him the DSC - his crash-landing and capture - working with the underground to help downed pilots evade capture - London's unrestrained exuberance on Armistice Day; . . . and much, much more.

Click here!






This post is also available in: Deutsch (German) Français (French) Italiano (Italian) 简体中文 (Chinese (Simplified)) Русский (Russian) Español (Spanish) العربية (Arabic)

Comments are closed.

error: Content is protected !!