RAF SE5 / SE5a Squadrons (Windsock Datafile Special)
By L. A. Rogers
Publisher: Albatros Productions Limited 2001 96 Pages
PDF 54 MB
The first volume deals with RAF SE5/SE5a fighters which, together with the Sopwith Camel (next in the series), helped the Allies eventually gain ascendancy over the German Army Air Service during 1917-1918. Over 20 British squadrons were equipped with the SE5/5a and author Les Rogers meticulously records them all. Official laid-down unit markings, flight codes and colours, changes and anomalies can all be found within the following pages that contain dozens of rare photos and accurate colour profiles. Never before have SE5/5a modellers and enthusiasts been presented with so many markings options within the covers of a single volume. We hope you enjoy it! R L Rimell/A Hogan/F Farrell, November 2000.
Before and during the early days of WWI the subject of markings had been discussed by the various services. By the end of 1915 the question of national markings had more or less been settled but by early 1916 so many units with the BE series were in France that it was becoming difficult to identify which unit they belonged to. On 23 April 1916 BE units were issued with simple geometrical shapes to paint on fuselages in either black or white according to the fabric colour. As time progressed and new squadrons arrived, new markings were used until the system became overcrowded. The whole collection of markings was thus reviewed and a new set was issued to start on 26 August 1917 which, with later additions, went on to the winter including markings for units that had not as then arrived in France. All of this was combined in new lists on 23 December 1917.
The German Army launched its offensive in the West on 21 March 1918 and the next day all two seater units were ordered to paint out their markings while fighter units changed theirs around. This remained in force until the Armistice. Some DH9 units asked to paint markings for the August offensive to help morale but only a few did so.
Application of markings
All squadron markings were issued by Wing, Brigade, or higher, and were official orders. Individual markings were left to the squadron CO's choice. All markings were applied by the squadron painter, if there was one, if not by a rigger who was standing about looking idle! This accounts for the various styles evident in the photographs.
No apology is made for the poor quality of some images in this book, these are included because we can find none better; some, in fact, are excellent. Please bear in mind the originals are over eighty years old and that cameras were officially forbidden on active service.