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Roden 1/48 RAF SE.5a Kit First Look

By Michael Benolkin

Date of Review July 2005 Manufacturer Roden
Subject RAF SE.5a Scale 1/48
Kit Number 0419 Primary Media Styrene
Pros Great details Cons Nothin noted
Skill Level Basic MSRP (USD) $19.98

First Look


In early 1917, the Royal Aircraft Factory delivered a new fighter to the Royal Flying Corps, the SE.5a. The aircraft was initially powered by a liquid-cooled Hispano Suiza V8 engine producing 150 horsepower. Aces like Albert Ball made good use of the new capabilities of this fighter, but many still felt it was underpowered.

By May 1917, the 200hp version of the Hispano Suiza engine was available and test-flown in the SE.5a. The additional power required a change of propeller from a two-bladed to a four-bladed type. Additional modifications were required to the airframe to accomodate the additional weight, but performance of the 200hp SE.5a was great. The only real issue was the lack of reliability of the engine, forcing many emergency landings or worse.

Another problem with the Hispano Suiza engine was production. They just weren't being produced in France fast enough to meet demand. The British attempted a license-built version of the engine by Wolseley called the Adder. This engine exhibited all of the reliability issued of the Hispano Suiza. It was the Wolseley Viper that provided the power without the reliability problems that would power the SE.5a through the remainder of the Great War.

The kit is molded in light gray styrene and features some nice detailing on the surface to represent the various construction techniques used on the aircraft. The rib detailing on the wings is nicely done. The kit comes on two trees of gray parts and these evidently have the parts to do about any variant of the SE.5a. For instance, the kit includes two two-bladed and two four-bladed propellers, two sets of engine hoods, three sets of cockpit enclosures, two radiators and more.

Assembly begins with the lower wing, cockpit area and fuselage. All of these come together to enclose the cockpit. The engine hood and radiator are installed next along with the exhaust manifolds.

The upper wing comes next with the interplane and cabane struts. The remainder of the kit includes the landing gear, armament and propeller to complete the project.

A nice set of drawings illustrate the proper rigging of the aircraft.

The kit includes markings for six aircraft:

  • SE.5a, D3511, 40 Sqn, RFC
  • SE.5a, B4891/6, 56 Sqn, RFC
  • SE.5a, D5995/1, 143 Sqn, RFC
  • SE.5a, B507/A, 60 Sqn, RFC
  • SE.5a, B139, 111 Sqn, RFC
  • SE.5a, B4863/G, 56 Sqn, RFC

Roden has turned out another beauty with this kit. The detailing and options allow for just about any version of the venerable SE.5a to be built out of this box. At the suggested retail price, this kit is definitely a great buy!

My sincere thanks to Squadron Mail Order for this review sample!