Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.1

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.1

Infobox Aircraft
name = S.E.1
type = Experimental research aircraft
manufacturer = Army Balloon Factory

caption =
designer = Geoffrey de Havilland, F.M. Green
first flight = August 1911
introduced =
retired =
status =
primary user =
more users =
produced =
number built = 1
unit cost =
variants with their own articles =
The S.E.1 ("Santos Experimental") was an experimental aircraft built at the Army Balloon Factory at Farnborough (later the Royal Aircraft Factory) in 1911. Its place in aviation history is mainly that it was the first in the series of Royal Aircraft Factory designs - several of which played an important role in World War I.

Design and Fate

In 1911 the Army Balloon Factory was not actually authorised to construct aircraft, but only to repair them. When the remains of a crashed Blériot XI monoplane belonging to the army were sent from Larkhill to Farnborough for repair, authorisation for a complete reconstruction was sought, and granted.

The result was a completely new design. A tractor monoplane became a pusher biplane, with large balanced fore-elevators - similar in basic layout to the Wright Flyer, but with a fully covered fuselage. Ailerons were fitted to the top wing, and twin balanced rudders were mounted behind the propeller, but out of its immediate splitstream. The only obvious component of the Bleriot that found its way into the new design was its 60hp E.N.V. "F" engine.

Control difficulties in such a design are obvious. Elevator control was probably very sensitive, as with the Wright Flyer - while rudder control was probably very poor. In any case the S.E.1 crashed on the 18th of August 1911 - killing its pilot, Lt. Theodore J. Ridge, The Assistant Superintendent at the factory.

No attempt to rebuild the S.E.1 was made, and the design was apparently abandoned, with no attempt to develop it. The S.E.2 of 1913 was a completely different kind of aeroplane - a development of the B.S.1.


aircraft specifications
length main=29 ft
length alt=8.84 m
span main=37 ft 6 in
span alt=11.43 m
height main=11 ft 6 in
height alt=3.51 m
area main= 400 ft²
area alt= 37.16 m²
loaded weight main=1,200 lb.
loaded weight alt=544.31 Kg
engine (prop)=E.N.V. "F"
type of prop=
number of props=1
power main= 60 hp
power alt=45 kW
power original=

* No performance figures available(It is unlikely sufficient testing was carried out for realistic figures to be established)


*Lewis, Peter "British Aircraft 1809-1914" London, Putnam, 1962

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