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






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