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1/48 SE.5a ‘Royal Class’

James H

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1/48 SE.5a ‘Royal Class’
Catalogue # R0015
Available from Eduard for €74,95






The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 (Scout Experimental 5) was a British biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War. It was developed by the Royal Aircraft Factory by a team consisting of Henry Folland, John Kenworthy and Major Frank Goodden. It was one of the fastest aircraft of the war, while being both stable and relatively manoeuvrable. According to aviation author Robert Jackson, the S.E.5 was: "the nimble fighter that has since been described as the 'Spitfire of World War One'" The S.E.5 was capable of superior overall performance compared with the rival Sopwith Camel, both aircraft being capable dogfighters of the era; however, problems with its Hispano-Suiza engine, particularly the geared-output H-S 8B-powered early versions, meant that there was a chronic shortage of S.E.5s until well into 1918. Thus, while the first examples had reached the Western Front before the Camel, there were fewer squadrons equipped with the S.E.5 than with the Sopwith fighter. Together with the Camel, the S.E.5 was instrumental in regaining allied air superiority in mid-1917 and maintaining it for the rest of the war, ensuring there was no repetition of "Bloody April" 1917 when losses in the Royal Flying Corps were much heavier than in the Luftstreitkräfte. The S.E.5s remained in RAF service for some time following the Armistice that ended the conflict; some were transferred to various overseas military operators, while a number were also adopted by civilian operators.



In spite of possessing a square-and-boxy appearance, the SE.5a was an advanced aircraft for the era; amongst its features, the S.E.5 was the first aircraft to be equipped with a pilot-adjustable tail-plane and a steerable tailskid. The S.E.5 was composed of a wire-braced box girder structure while the wings were furnished with wooden spars and internal ribs. The fuselage was narrower than many contemporary aircraft, which provided the pilot with good all-round visibility. The aircraft had considerable structural strength, which was credited with improving the type's crashworthiness and survivability. It could also withstand high-g manoeuvres and was relatively resistant to battle-damage. Unlike many of its peers, which were unforgiving and highly agile, the S.E.5 was comparatively stable, easy to fly and forgiving; its stability enabling pilots to more readily fire upon enemies from further away with a greater degree of accuracy. It had a noticeably lower accident rate than comparable aircraft. The cockpit was set amidships, making it difficult to see over the long front fuselage, but otherwise visibility was good. One of its greatest advantages over the Camel was its superior performance at altitude, making it a much better match for the Fokker D.VII when that fighter arrived at the front.[citation needed] Aviation authors Donald Nijboer and Dan Patterson attribute the S.E.5 as being "arguably the best British-built fighter of World War I".
Courtesy of Wikipedia



The kit
It’s not actually been too long since Eduard first released their new SE.5a Profipack kit, along with a plethora of their own aftermarket items and their useful Overtrees sprues and PE parts. As with their range of Spitfire kits, the SE.5a is becoming known for its general accuracy, excellent engineering, and trouble-free assembly. I really don’t suppose we can blame them for maximising the joy with this kit, and releasing it in their popular Royal Class series. As with a number of the recent kits in this format, this one has the familiar crimson box lid, with a simple outline drawing of the aircraft. There is of course more than one kit here too, with sprues being supplied for building TWO of these super little models, as well as additional PE and resin parts. Royal Class kits also include a little extra item within. In the past, we have had metal aircraft fragments and beer glasses etc. In this release, Eduard has supplied a rather nice and sizeable hip-flask, made from stainless steel, and carrying the RFC emblem etched onto the front, with Eduard’s logo on the reverse. I’ll look at this more closely later in this article.




This Royal Class release contains the following items:


  • Four sprues of medium grey styrene
  • Two sprues of clear styrene
  • Two frets of colour-printed photo-etch
  • Three frets of brass photo-etch
  • Twenty-eight resin parts (guns, ammo drums and flame dampers)
  • One masking sheet
  • One decal sheet for THIRTEEN marking options
  • One etched, stainless steel hip-flask
  • Now, I’ll take a look at the sprues and parts in turn, and see what they offer in terms of options and detail etc.



Sprue A (x2)



The real beauty of Eduard’s tooling and moulding can be seen on the wing panels. Each of these is moulded as a single, full-span piece, and the surface detail really is the 1/48 equivalent of a Wingnut Wings kit. Rib and rib tape/stitch detail is restrained and there are hints of the underlying pair of leading edge ribs that sit between the main ribs. Strengthening and stiffening plate detail is present and looks perfect. Ailerons are separately moulded so that you may pose them dynamically, and the detail on this is as refined and delicate as that of the wings. Upper and lower wing panels also have a pulley access port for the control surfaces, with the pulley moulded within. Clear parts are supplied for the panels themselves, as are PE parts for the fastening strips. As the lower panel is full span, it includes an integral lower fuselage centre-section and forward lower engine cowl section. It’s onto this that the fuselage cockpit tub will sit before the fuselage is closed up around it. Wing strut location points are nice and clean and should provide a plug-fit for those parts.










Eduard has designed this model so that the elevators may be posed too, with separate, individual elevators. As with the wings, the stabiliser is also full span and incorporates the elevator pulley ports that will again be glazed over. Two different sets of elevators are moulded here, but only one set is to be used.










All undercarriage parts are to be found here, including the delicate wheels with their spoke and fabric detail, spreader bar/axle, and two options for the V-struts. One of these will need to be supplemented by the use of some thin plastic rod, although I can’t see why Eduard didn’t just mould the parts on this sprue. The SE.5a’s steerable tail wheel and fairing are also included here.

Remaining sprue parts include ammunition bin, cabane struts and inter-plane struts, optional head rest fairing and upper, forward fuselage bulkhead.



Sprue B (x2)



I really like the fuselage depiction with its slab sides. Externally, detail includes some beautiful longitudinal lacing and also around the wing root area. Of course, this was present so the fabric could be removed for maintenance. It was quite common to see the forward fabric to be rippled, but that isn’t depicted here as it was in the Wingnut Wings kit. However, what Eduard has done is created a seriously realistic surface representation with raised metal panel, raised rivet and foot stirrup details. Whilst the fin is integral, the rudder is moulded separately. Internally, the cockpit wall area is more or less bare due to the detail being within the frame/tub. The engine area though is a different matter, with engine bearer and tensioning cable details. Ejection pin marks have been hidden in the lower echelons of this area and within the area to the front of this, which will be totally hidden once assembled.








If you like cockpits, then this kit doesn’t disappoint at all, with a beautifully detailed pilot’s office that is centred around a framework tub. This tub consists of port and starboard side frames, and a number of stanchions that connect them. Within this, a nicely detailed instrument panel and console are included, as are the trim wheel, control stick components, fuel tank fuel priming pump, and rudder bar, to name a few. Eduard’s tooling really is excellent, with small details being nicely represented. For the instrument panel itself, there is a colour PE alternative to use, and the interior is also supplemented by both resin and PE parts for such details as the ammunition drum and carrier, seatbelts etc. For the instruments, more PE is included, as are decal options.






Two engine options are available in this kit. These are the Wolseley Viper and Hispano Suiza engines. In 1/48, these are quite small, but the detail is very nicely captured. The cylinder blocks are moulded as halves, with the crankcase composed of two parts. Plumbing and magnetos are also separate. Depending on which engine the SE.5a was fitted with, the radiator cowls were quite different, and these have been nicely recreated here. For further details, Eduard offer a Brassin alternative, but these aren’t included in this release.

Other parts on this sprue are the propellers (one x 4-blade and two x two blade, exhausts, cowls, engine bulkheads, upper wing gun and integral track, and numerous small pieces for the cockpit and numerous external airframe details.



Sprue C (x2)



These are the clear parts, and arranged within a circular sprue. Here you will find the windscreen options, and the various access panel clear plates. Detail, where appropriate, it excellent, and the parts have perfect visual clarity. No problems whatsoever.



Photo-etch parts



Firstly, the colour frets. Two identical pieces are supplied in this release; one for each model. These include a full colour instrument panel and separate instrument gauges and other cockpit parts, seatbelts, inspection port frames, ammo drum container, wire bracing, gunsight mount, aileron control cables etc. Colour printing is excellent. Two more identical frets contain the parts for the Brassin guns, and the last fret holds parts for the various streamers and flame damper brackets etc.







Resin parts



No less than 28 resin parts are supplied in this release, focusing solely on the guns, ammo and flame dampers. These are cast in a combination of both light and dark grey resin. I feel that the dark grey material is used for items that need a little extra strength, but I could be wrong. Of course, the parts in this release are available as separate Brassin releases too, if you’d opted for the ProfiPACK version, but it’s good to see their inclusion here. Essentially, what we have are two sets of parts from the SE.5a Guns Brassin pack, and the dampers which appear to have their first outing in this release. Again, there are two sets of these; one for each of the included kits. Despite Eduard’s plastic equivalents being more than good enough to come up to the mark, their Brassin parts take things in a totally different direction, with some of the most subtle detail you will see in resin. The fuselage mounted guns themselves are built up from a rear breech and separate barrel/cooling jacket, plus a PE reticule and cocking lever. The wing-mounted gun is a single piece, with a separate barrel, supplemented by a choice of two different ammo drums, handle, and cockpit lever. The latter is very small, so be careful handling it. This gun is mounted to an adjustable rail, and this is also supplied in resin. PE parts are also included.




To fit the flame dampers, you will need to remove the rear of the plastic exhaust pipe, and graft it into place. Only one scheme option (A) requires this modification. All resin is superbly cast and their connection to the casting blocks are easy to saw through and quite thin.


For me, the only omissions in this release are one of the resin/PE radiators, and one of the superb propellers that are also available separately. Numerous options exist for these however, but the inclusion of one of each would have made this the ultimate SE.5a release, ever!






A single sheet of paper kabuki masking material is supplied, with enough parts for both models. Included are masks for the wheels, windscreens, and the small, clear access panels on the wings and tailplane. All masks are sharply cut and the instructions are clear as to their placement.






A single decal sheet, printed by Cartograf, contains the markings for all THIRTEEN schemes. The appearance of the SE.5a was fairly generic for the larger part, but Eduard has chosen some interesting and attractive options for this release. As well as national markings, serials and insignia, stencils are also included. Printing is nice and thin, as well as having minimal carrier film, and solid and authentic colour. Registration is perfect.








The schemes available are:


  • C1803, flown by Capt. C. J. Truran, No. 143 Squadron, Detling, Great Britain, May 1918
  • C1904, flown by Maj. W. A. Bishop, No. 85 Squadron, Petit Synthe, France, June 1918
  • D278, flown by Capt. E. Mannock, No. 74 Squadron, Clairmarais North, France, April 1918
  • F5687, flown by Lt. J. A. Roth, No. 60 Squadron, Quiévy, France, November 1918
  • B189, flown by Capt. J. H. Tudhope, No. 40 Squadron, Bruay, France, April 1918
  • B4863, flown by Capt. J. T. B. McCudden, No. 56 Squadron, Estrée Blanche, France, September 1917
  • B603, Training Unit, Great Britain, 1918
  • B525, flown by Lt. A. P. F. Rhys - Davids, No. 56 Squadron, Estrée Blanche, France, October 1917
  • B507, flown by 2/Lt J. J. Fitzgerald, No. 60 Squadron, Sainte-Marie-Cappel, beginning of October 1917
  • F9029, No. 1 Squadron Canadian Air Force, Shoreham, Great Britain, 1919
  • D362, 5th and 6th Training Squadron, Australian Flying Force, Minchinhampton, Great Britain, 1918/1919
  • A2-24, flown by F/O F. C. Even, No. 3 Squadron Australian Air Force, Canberra, Australia, beginning of May 1927
  • F8005, flown by Capt. R. G. Landis, CO of 25th Aero Squadron, Collombey-les-Belles, France, November 1918





























Instruction manual
Eduard’s typically lush style continues with this 24-page, glossy A4 publication that covers both construction and the scheme artworks. A full parts map is supplied at the beginning, with the not-for-use parts being clearly identified. Colour codes are also supplied for Gunze/Mr Metal paints. Construction illustration is easy on the eye, with this mostly being in line drawing format with coloured ink to denote part modification or PE/resin addition. The various parts options are clearly shown, with their marking scheme letter denoted. Rigging illustration is also given, with all lines in blue ink. This could’ve been easier to follow if the various lines were printed in different colours. Paint call-outs are given throughout. Scheme illustrations are excellent, with easy to follow colour and decal images.






This is a little beauty. I’ve owned a few flasks over the years, and this is as good as some of those. It’s also quite a decent size too, and the RFC engraving really does look good. What I like about this flask is the captive lid that swings out on a bracket once you’ve unscrewed the lid. It certainly stops you dropping it on the floor in a crowded bar and shuffling around on your knees, looking for it. Just remember that as with any flask, you should give it a good wash out or sterilise before use.







This is one hell of a kit, made even better with the fact that two full sets of sprues are included, plus the resin and PE parts that elevate the already excellent kit parts to something that should look quite spectacular if you take your time and effort. I do feel that at least one of the Brassin radiator sets would have been a nice addition, and maybe one of the propellers too. Having said that, the price that you should be able to get this for, proves that this is very good value for money, in relation to the ProfiPACK release, and of course, you get that rather attractive hipflask that I assure you will see some action in the near future. A gorgeous kit, and remember, this is a limited edition. Get it now whilst you can!


Highly recommended.


My sincere thanks to Eduard for this review sample. To purchase directly, click HERE






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