S.E.5a – 1 Sqn RAF, Francis Magoun, Bailleul Aerodrome, France 1918 1/48
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Corgi Aviation Archive 1/48 scale AA37703: Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a in the livery of 1 Sqn RAF, as flown by ace pilot Francis Magoun, Bailleul, France, March 1918. Limited edition of 1,700 pieces.
Length 5.25 inches Wingspan 6.75 inches
A student at Harvard University (class of 1916), Francis Peabody Magoun served as an ambulance driver with Section 1 of the American Field Service on the Western Front from 3 March 1916 to 3 August 1916. On 17 March 1917 he enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps in England. Following preliminary training at Oxford University, he was sent to France for advanced flight training with the Royal Naval Air Service. Magoun was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant on 4 July 1917 and received a pilot’s certificate on 3 September 1917. He was posted to France with 1 Squadron on 11 November 1917. Flying the S.E.5a he scored four victories before he was promoted to Lieutenant on 1 April 1918 and wounded in action while strafing enemy troops on 10 April 1918. He returned to his squadron in October 1918, becoming an ace on 28 October 1918 after downing a Fokker D.VII near Anor. Discharged from service on12 June 1919, Magoun remained in England at the end of the war and attended Cambridge before returning to the United States. He later became an English professor at Harvard, specializing in Finnish studies. Magoun published more than a dozen books, including a prose translation of the great Finnish epic, “The Kalevala.” Honored by Finland in 1964, he was awarded the Order of the Lion.
The Royal Aircraft Factory Se5 was one of the finest fighter aircraft of the First World War, although its introduction was hampered by problems with its advanced engine design. The Se5 was a superb gun platform, but lacked the dog-fighting agility of the more famous Sopwith Camel. The Se5 design was distinctive in the use of an over-wing mounted Lewis machine gun, which allowed for a greater sweep of firepower, or the ability to fire at an enemy from below. No.1 Squadron was the founder squadron of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 and as such has a special place in RAF history. In early 1918, the squadron, equipped with the improved SE5a fighters, engaged in low level attacks against advancing German forces and helped to repel their last desperate attacks. As the Allied air campaign moved onto the offensive, 1 Squadron Se5a’s were employed in providing fighter cover for the more vulnerable bomber aircraft.
Designed by H.P.Folland as an easy-to-fly fighter, The Royal Aircraft Factory’s S.E.5a bi-plane was first flown in 1917. Together with the Sopwith Camel, the S.E.5 was instrumental in regaining allied air superiority. Both friend and foe recognized the S.E.5 as a formidable fighting machine. It was fast, extremely strong and easy to fly, and was the aircraft of many WWI aces. Later model S.E.5a’s had Wolseley Viper 200 hp engines, which ended the engine problems of earlier designs. A Vickers gun was fired through the air screw with synchronizing gear, and a Lewis could be fired over the top wing or directly upwards.