Kagero | Legends Of Aviation 4: S.E.5a

Reviewed by Matt Gannon

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Kagero No 6004
Legends of Aviation No 4
Author : Edward Kocent-Zielinski
ISBN : 83-89088-61-4

Soft cover
Polish/English text in column format
84 pages
80 Black and White photos
7 pages of colour profiles and plan views
1 Techmod decal sheet with 1/72 and 1/48 scale markings

Roden's release of the 1/32 S.E 5a passed with hardly a blip on the Internet forum radar. In no small part due to the closely timed release of Dragon's 1/32 Mustang which created a tsunami of interest and comment. Strangely though, where the P-51 was symbolic of allied fighters of WW2, the S.E.5a was very symbolic of the allied fighters of WWI. This new release by Kagero in their Legends of Aviation Series will be a welcome addition to the reference library of many WWI aviation enthusiasts.

The book doesn't fuss with a complicated indexing system, instead choosing to get right in there. The opening paragraphs set the scene and the mood for the reader. It leaves you feeling like shouting 'contact' and take a bead with a Lewis gun. At the same time, the author sets the political and historical context in which these planes were designed. Legislation in the years preceding the war curtailed combustion engine design in general and the fledgling concept of an air force as a weapon of war was something very alien to the thinking of the time. After thoroughly setting the scene the author embarks on a comprehensive presentation regarding the development of the S.E.5. There are a variety of nice photographs throughout this section that will enhance details on any model or provide information to the WWI enthusiast. Of course, one must bear in mind that the photos were taken during the early 1900's. Given their age, the technology at the time we are lucky to have some pictures at all. It would be unfair to compare them to professionally photographed planes of the US Navy's carrier aircraft.

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Further sections discuss, equipment, armament and variants, a general description of the aircraft, the tweaks to the aircraft performed in the field by maintenance crews and a short piece on the development of the S.E.5b and S.E. 5c. Following this is an entertaining and informative group of paragraphs on the various RFC squadrons and other users of the S.E.5a. Those briefly covered include:

The final few sections of the book include contemporary replicas and museum aircraft, painting and marking along with some excellent scale drawings and colour profiles. The scale drawings will be an immense help to any Super-detailers out there. Included with the book are some lovely decals from Techmod. Of course they will be of minimal interest to us in the larger scale but they do look perfectly in register with minimal carrier film and may have trade value with those that dabble in miniatures.. Having used Techmod decals previously and found them essentially perfect, I'd expect no different with this set. The scan was taken with the decals still in their sealed plastic bag.

Overall, the book provides an interesting look at the S.E 5a. It does this in both an informative and also an entertaining fashion. It does suffer from quite a lot of typos which no doubt have to do with proof reading. Whilst worth mentioning for those that are fastidious in their analysis and criticism, it hardly detracts from the text. You'll have no trouble recognising what was meant in certain places. I enjoyed the section of the RFC and other squadrons and this will no doubt prove to be a great launching pad for any enthusiast to further research into this area. The last 'epilogue' part of the book was delightful. It went about describing the personalities of the aces 'Ball' and 'McCudden'. It was at the description of McCudden that I suddenly realised where the comedy show Black Adder got the character Lord Flashheart along with the catch-phrase 'WOOF! WOOF!'. The belly laughing I did remembering scenes from that show were worth the purchase of the book alone.

Many thanks to Ian McPherson of Janterpol books for the chance to review this sample.

© Matt Gannon 2007

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This review was published on Saturday, July 02 2011; Last modified on Wednesday, May 18 2016