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Lindberg 1/48 SE5a Polish Air Force.

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I had this kit in the stash for a very long time, but kept overlooking it because of rigging. However I broke it out recently and decided to have a crack. The kit is basic, but decent fitting. I only replaced the lewis gun with one from the stash which looks a lot better. I rigged it by threading knitting elastic and it worked pretty well. The aircraft depicts one of the 20 odd machines acquired by the Poles to fight their war of Independence against the Russians in February 1919. Decals came from my spares box.











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Only four S.E.5as made it to Poland and only one was painted with Polish Air Force markings.


After WWI Britain had large numbers of surplus aircraft crated in depots. The authority to sell these aircraft was granted to the Handley Page Company. In July 1919 a representative of the company made an offer to gen. Jan Romer, chairman of the Polish Military Mission in Paris. After contacting his superiors in Warsaw, in September 1919, he sent Marian Gaweł and Michał Tłuchoowski, representatives of the Polish Air Service, to London, to evaluate on the ground and in the air the aircraft offered by Handley Page, Bristol Fighter, DH 9, and S.E.5a. After receiving their report to the Ministry of Military Affairs  in Warsaw, the Polish aviation authorities invited Handley Page to display the Bristol Fighter and S.E.5A in Warsaw.


The Handley Page team of Engineers and pilots arrived by sea at Gdańsk on 1 December 1919. They brought two S.E.5as and two RR Falcon III Bristol Fighters. By mid-December the aircraft had arrived in Warsaw and assembled their at the end of the month. On 9 January 1920 the aircraft were presented to the Polish commission led by Polish Air Force Inspector gen.Gustaw Macewicz. The S.E.5a made a good impression which improved after a competition between the S.E.5a, a Fokker D.VII and an Ansaldo Balilla. The S.E.5a flown by CWL factory pilot Antoni Mroczkowski won. On 2 February Mroczowski crashed on landing after another demonstration flight, braking both his arms. The S.E.5a was wrecked. It is not known for certain if this affected the decision of the Polish commission which ordered 75 Bristol Fighters, later increased to 125.


After the Handley Page team departed Warsaw they left their aircraft behind. As property of Handley Page they could not be used by the Polish Air Force so were dismantled and stored at the CSL. In June Aleksander Serednicki, head of aviation at the Supreme Command, asked the Minister of Military Affairs that the fighter left in storage be purchased from Handley Page. The S.E.5a, F9135 Hispania Suiza engine no. 3684 built by Vickers at Crayford, was purchased on 5 July and its assembly started at the Central Aircraft Works and given the CWL serial number 19.01 and Polish markings applied. Upper surfaces in PC-10, lower clear doped linen. The engine cowling, some metal parts and the front of the fin and fuselage below it were a darker colour, probably dark green. Chessboards were applied to upper and lower wing surfaces, rudder and fuselage sides. The serial number, 19.01, was applied in black forward of the chessboard on the fuselage side and as stencilling on some components, e.g., rudder, fin, wing struts.


On 8 July 1920, Maj. Cedric Faunt le Roy, OC 7 Eskadra Myśliwska, had somehow learned of the S.E.5a being assembled and asked the Head of Aviation to allocate the fighter to his unit. This was approved on 13 July. The following day Stefan Ciecierski left for Kowel. On 15 July he landed at Hołoby where the 7 Eskadra were based. After a few hours respite he took off in the S.E5a for a reconnaissance of the Łuck area. At Kolonia Podhaje he saw Bolshevik cavalry and attacked. A bullet from the ground damaged the engine an he was forced to land behind enemy lines. The crashed aircraft was set on fire by the Bolsheviks. Ciecierski was taken prisoner but managed to escape back to Poland in November.  The wreck was found by Polish troops in September when Łuck was liberated. The engine and other parts of the S.E.5a that crashed in February 1920 were regarded as spares for 19.01 and were put into storage at the VSL on 23 July.


In May 1926 two S.E.5as, registration G-EBIC and G-EBXC, belonging to Savage Skywriting Co., owned by James Worledge, arrived in Poland. They were used for advertising various products over Warsaw, Cracow, Lwów and other places.



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