From The Vintage Aviator Collection
One aspect of aircraft construction that is often overlooked are all of the “accessories” and minor details that make these aircraft so special. In the case of the SE.5a we rebuilt a starting magneto that protrudes through the side of the cockpit for an engineer to operate and assist in starting the original Hispano engines. We also built our own water temperature gauges, and almost every other cockpit instrument. Starting with our own aluminum bezels and laser cut pointers we fitted many modern reliable instruments and made them appear identical to the originals. We also fabricate hand air pumps to pressurize the fuel tank and made our own Aldis sights. The cockpit is also adorned with several spare Lewis magazines and accurate replica radiator shutter bowden controls and a proper Sutton harness.
We are lucky to have access to an original SE.5 propeller, which we scanned into a computer and machined exact copies from laminated mahogany for each aircraft. The wire spoke wheels, the Palmer wheel covers, the windscreen and even clear inspection windows in the fabric surfaces, all had to be made. The SE.5a is a fighter and as such, it could be said the guns are the heart of the airplane. The Lewis gun and the Foster mount are highly visible above the center section. Foster gun mounts are impossible to find, and real Lewis Guns create legal problems - so we decided to manufacture our own. We made operating Foster mounts from original drawings and retained the option of fitting a real blank-firing gun for airshows. However, we also worked out an effective technique for replicating aircraft guns, and these reproduction Lewis and Vickers machine guns decorate our SE.5a's.
“If I had any doubts about the reliability of the Hispano Suiza engine, I would not have flown the SE.5a across the Cook Strait to attend the Classic Fighters Airshow”
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