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1914 Scout. At the Royal Aircraft Factory H. P. Folland’s S.E.4 scout set up an unofficial world speed record of 131 m.p.h. with a 160-h.p. Gnome. Its engine was fan-cooled; the variable camber wings could be used as landing flaps; and it had a celluloid cockpit cover, an N.A.C.A. cowling, single I-type wing struts, streamlined bracing wires, and fairings on its axle and wheels and over the aileron, elevator and rudder gaps. Other engines were also fitted.

Designed at Farnborough by H P Folland at the end of 1914, the S.E.4a was one of a series of "Scouting Experimentals" used to study the interplay of stability and manoeuvrability. Unrelated, except in configuration and design authorship, to the high performance S.E.4 of mid-1914, the S.E.4a was a sturdy little single-bay biplane with equi-span wings incorporating 3.5 degrees of dihedral and having no centre section. The square-section fuselage was of conventional spruce construction with steel tubes to accept the loads from the lower wings, and, like the wooden wings and tail unit, was fabric-covered. Full-span ailerons were fitted to both sets of wings, and power was provided by an 80hp Gnome seven-cylinder rotary in a fully circular shortchord cowling.

The first of four S.E.4a's built at the RAF flew there on 25 June 1915, and differed from its successors in having faired fuselage sides and an outsize spinner. The fourth and last S.E.4a flew on 13 August that year. The third, flown on 27 July, was at first fitted with an 80hp Le Rhone engine, the Gnome being substiprovided with an 80hp Clerget. In the hands of the RFC, at least one of the S.E.4a's was armed with a 7.7mm Lewis gun mounted on the centre line above the upper wing to clear the propeller disc.


Engine: 1 x 160-h.p. Gnome
Span: 27ft 6in
Speed: 135 mph
Seats: 1.

Engine: 1 x 80-h.p. Gnome
Span: 27ft 5.25in
Length: 6.37 m / 21 ft 11 in
Height: 2.87 m / 9 ft 5 in
Seats: 1


Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.4a



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