Home  |  What's New  |  Features  |  Gallery  |  Reviews  |  Reference  |  Forum  |  Search

(Wolseley Viper version)


Roden 1/48

S u m m a r y

Catalogue Number: Roden SE5a (Wolseley Viper version) 1/48th scale kit #416
Scale: 1/48
Contents and Media: 71 parts in injection moulded plastic; acetate sheet for windscreens; markings for three aircraft
Price: USD$17.96  from Squadron.com
Review Type: FirstLook
Advantages: Quality mouldings, single piece wings, thin trailing edges, acetate windshields.
Disadvantages: Decals slightly out of register, problematical lower wing.
Recommendation: Recommended

Reviewed by Robert Baumgartner

 Roden's 1/48 scale RAF SE5a (Wolseley Viper version)  
is available online from Squadron.com


It has been a long wait for a mainstream manufacturer to release a kit of the SE5a in 1/48 scale. With Roden having done all the “leg work” with their release in the smaller size, it was expected that sooner or later we would get the larger version.

Well it’s here and first impressions on opening the box are good. There are two sprues containing 71 light grey plastics parts and an acetate sheet for a choice of windscreens.

This kit represents a Viper-engined SE5a.

Obviously many other versions will be produced and the “gates” stopping the moulding of different types of cockpit/engine area and propellers indicate this.

As expected the parts are very well moulded with only minimal cleanup needed. The only sink marks found were on a couple of the engine pieces.


Click the thumbnails below to view larger images:

Cockpit items consist of the instrument panel, shelf, compass assembly, rudder bar, control column, spare Lewis drum, and seat. The lower wing centre section provides the floor. Some structural detail on the inner fuselage halves completes a respectable representation of this area.

The fuselage halves are nicely formed and compare very well with the plans found in the Albatros Productions Datafile Special. The SE5a was built by a number of manufacturers so there are often small detail differences between aircraft. For this reason, modeller’s should check their subject carefully. A case in point being the access plates to the rear of the engine. A nice touch is that the glazed panel over the cockpit has been supplied on the acetate sheet.

The rest of this sprue contains a choice of two bladed propeller, struts, long type exhausts, headrest, and a superbly done Foster mounting. The latter coming with and without spacers.

The wings are found on sprue A. The one-piece nature of these means that the dihedral of the original is not going to be a problem. Detail is excellent with the ribs being particularly subtle. When compared to the aforementioned plans by Ian Stair, one immediately sees a discrepancy with the positioning, and therefore the numbering, of the ribs. Roden have moulded the top and bottom wings the same whereas the lower wing “should” have one less rib.

Naturally the next step is to look at photographs from the period. Sadly all clear pictures agree with the plans. Strangely this latest arrangement deviates from what Roden did on their 1/72nd scale releases of the SE5a. One assumes there must have been a compelling reason for them to make the change.

Although the ailerons are not separate, the elevators are, and the trailing edges of these items are excellent. The rest of the sprue is filled with both types of undercarriage, lovely radiator, wheels with separate covers, and Roden’s usual delicate machine guns. A set of bombs is also present that can be consigned to the spares box.





Three subjects are catered for with the decal sheet, with my example being slightly out of register. This being most noticeable with the white on the smaller roundels.



The pulley inspection panels are also done as a decal, which is a novel way to solve the appearance problem. However I think the use of black for the surrounding frame is too stark in this scale.

  1. RAF SE5a E1295/A flown by Major Edward Mannock of 74 (sic) Squadron, July 1918.

Mannock was already with 85 Squadron at this date and used this aircraft to claim 8 victories from 7th July to 26th July 1918. He also died in this machine when shot down by ground fire immediately after getting his 61st victim. The total of 73 victories that has been previously attributed to Mannock was believed to be the result of detractors of Billy Bishop. Bishop having finished with a claimed total of 72.

  1. RAF SE5a C1904/Z flown by Billy Bishop of 85 Squadron, summer 1918.

Bishop had claims for 13 aircraft while flying this SE5a, which included the famed 5 victories of 19 June 1918.

  1. RAF SE5a D6856 flown by Capt. A. Beauchamp Proctor of 84 Squadron, 1918.

Roden chooses another ace for the third scheme, this time the diminutive Beauchamp Procter. He was only 5 foot 2 inches tall and when it came to flying the SE5a, this was a definite disadvantage. As a result, he had to have a special seat made and the controls for his machine adjusted accordingly.

He loved going out in search of balloons and out of the 54 victories attributed to him, 16 where “air bags”. D6856 was used for 16 claims, 6 of which were balloons.





This really is a lovely kit and the qualities of the mouldings show it. The “extra” bottom wing rib will be problematical to some but for the majority of buyers it will “disappear” into the overall visual package.


Thanks to Squadron.com for the review sample.

Review and Images Copyright © 2004 by Robert Baumgartner
Page Created 18 October, 2004
Last updated 18 October, 2004

Back to HyperScale Main Page

Back to Reviews Page