SE5a F-904 Major C E M Pickthorn (MC), RAF No.84 Squadron, France, November 1918
As one of the classic fighter aircraft of the First World War, the fast and agile SE5a helped the Allied air forces wrestle control of the air over the Western Front from the Luftstreitkrafte in 1917 and in conjunction with the Sopwith Camel, ensured they maintained air superiority for the remainder of the war. A product of the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, early SE5 fighters were blighted by persistent engine problems, which resulted in their squadron introduction being rather slow and it would consequently be well into 1918 before large numbers could be committed to combat.
The particular aircraft featured here claimed one of the final aerial victories of the war, when it shot down a German Fokker DVII fighter just one day before the armistice came into effect. It must also be considered one of the most historic aircraft in the history of the Royal Air Force, as it continues to fly in the colours it wore during that final combat to this day, as part of the famous Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden airfield.
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