The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.4a was a reconnaissance aircraft which was developed and built for experiments and research purposes at the beginning of the First World War.
Development and design:
In 1915, Henry Folland, a developer at Royal Aircraft Factory, began developing a single-engine reconnaissance aircraft, which was mainly intended to demonstrate the connection between stability and maneuverability for research purposes. Although there was an aircraft called S.E.4 already in 1914, the S.E.4a was a completely new developed aircraft.
In the first prototype the front section of the aircraft was made of steel tubes and the rear section of a wooden construction.
For the engine a Gnome rotary engine with 80 HP was chosen, which was mounted under a smooth bonnet. For the other prototypes, the designers used other engines such as those from Clerget or Le Rhône for comparison purposes. Also the construction of the other three aircrafts was not as stable as that of the first airplane.
The first flight of the first prototype was carried out on 25 June 1915. The other three aircraft followed until August 1915. These proved to be easy to fly and had excellent aerobatic capabilities. Due to the weak engines, however, the development was not continued afterwards or a larger number was ordered.
Use in the First World War:
At the end of 1915 the Home Defense Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps received two of the four aircraft built. These were equipped with a Lewis machine gun, which was mounted on the upper wing.
Already on September 24, 1915, one of the aircraft was completely destroyed in an accident. The fourth aircraft remained in the Royal Flying Corps until September 1917 and was used for experimental purposes.
|Designation:||Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.4a|
|Engine:||A Gnôme rotation motor with 80 HP|
|Maximum speed:||145 km/h|
|Arming:||1 x .303 Lewis machine gun|