Austin's first government contract was for the RE 7 plane with production commencing September 1915. Fifty two planes were delivered.
The revised version, called RE 8, was developed and a order for 300 placed. In 1918 a order was placed for 350 SE 5 planes. The military was so pleased with the quality of Austin's aircraft that the order was revised several times, ending with a total of 1550.
At the start of this contract the delivery schedule was one plane per day (24hrs). With the larger numbers required, production rose steadily to an average of 30 per week. From Monday 3 June to Saturday in six days they turned out sixty three planes.
Airplane construction in those days was very much like airplane modeling.
The body of a plane contained thousands of separate and accurately made pieces of wood which were then assembled together.
One of the grey arts was the ‘doping’ of the canvas, because if not done correctly the canvas skin would be too tight and so was likey to tear, if loose it was not very aerodynamic and would also tear. The Austin dope-room was regarded as the best in the country because it was fully ventilated along with a controlled temperature. At this time all this experimental work and production need skilled men who could manufacture the aircraft, At the time the SE 5s were being built, Austin at Longbridge, employed around 130 aircraft carpenters and about 200 riggers and fitters.
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