RAF SE5a F904 | The Shuttleworth Collection

  • STATUS: Airworthy
  • LOCATION: Old Warden
  • OWNER: Shuttleworth Collection
  • ROLE: Fighter
  • BUILT: 1918
  • LENGTH:  20 ft 11 in \6.38 m
  • WINGSPAN:  26 ft 7 in\8.11 m
  • ENGINE: 200hp Wolseley Viper
  • MAXIMUM SPEED:  138 mph\222 km/h
  • RANGE:  300 miles\483 km
  • ARMAMENT: 1x 0.303 in forward-firing Vickers machine gun, 1x .303 in Lewis gun on upper wing, 4x 25 lb Cooper bombs

Built by Wolseley Motors and issued to No 84 Squadron RAF in France in November 1918, RAF SE5a F904 claimed one of the final aerial victories of the first world war when Major C E M Pickthorn MC, the squadron commander, successfully destroyed a Fokker DVII in the vicinity of Chimay in Belgium, just one day before the armistice came into effect. Designed by the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, early SE5 fighters were blighted by persistent engine problems, which resulted in their squadron introduction being rather slow and it would consequently be well into 1918 before large numbers could be committed to combat. Once the initial issues were ironed out the SE5a was a fast and nibble biplane often described as the spitfire of WWI. In conjunction with the Sopwith Camel, it ensured they maintained air superiority for the remainder of the war after its introduction.

Post war RAF SE5a F904 was bought, with others, by Major J C Savage for his skywriting business and registered G-EBIA, in use from 1924 to 1928 when she was put into store. In 1955 RAF SE5a F904 was recovered from storage in the roof of the Armstrong Whitworth flight shed at Baginton and restored for the Shuttleworth Collection by staff and apprentices at RAE Farnborough. Fitted with a geared Hispano Suiza she returned to flight in August 1959. When the crankshaft of this engine sheared in flight in 1975 the aircraft was rebuilt with a 200hp Wolseley Viper. Extensively refurbished in 2007, the SE5a is now displayed in the colours and markings of No 84 Squadron. RAF SE5a F904 regularly features in airshows at her Old Warden base.

Photo Gallery