E-flite S.E.5a Slow Flyer 250 ARF Review - RC Groups
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E-flite S.E.5a Slow Flyer 250 ARF Review

Jay Smith enlists as a World War I dogfighter with the SE5A. Easy to build and with tons of scale appeal, the SE5A Slow Flyer from E-flite will get you into the action qucikly.



Wing Area:310 sq”
AUW weight:Advertised – 7.5 - 8 oz., Actual - 8 oz
Wing loading:3.7 oz/sq. ft.
Servos:2 – E-flite S60's
Transmitter:Spektrum DX7
Receiver:Spektrum AR6100
Battery:E-Flite 430mAh 2s LiPoly
Motor:E-flite Park 250 2200 Kv
ESC:E-flite 10a Pro Brushless
Available From:Horizon Hobby

E-flite takes semi-scale slow flyers to the next level with their new SE5A. I was excited to see E-flite expand on their slow flyer line and listened to modelers’ requests by incorporating some minor changes to make the SE5A even better. E-flite has done a good job of providing a semi-scale model at a light weight and was glad to see they even included a machine gun on the top wing. World War I dogfighting at your local park will never be the same once you give the SE5A a try.


The S.E.5a was a fast, maneuverable WWI fighter plane. Together with the Sopwith Camel, the S.E.5a was instrumental in regaining allied air superiority in the summer of 1917 and maintaining it for the rest of the war. Twenty-two squadrons of the RFC and the US Air Corps were flying the S.E.5a by the time of the Armistice.

Kit Contents

Kit includes:

  • Painted foam fuselage and wing
  • Lightweight plastic cowl already attached
  • Hardware (EZ type connectors, pushrods and horns)
  • Decals and markings already applied
  • Prebent landing gear
  • Rudder and Elevator already hinged and attached
  • Large assembly manual with pictures and text instructions

Kit requires:

  • Motor
  • Propeller
  • 2s LiPoly battery
  • 2 servos
  • Receiver
  • 3 channel minimum transmitter

Included for this review:

  • E-flite Park 250 Brushless Outrunner Motor 2200 Kv
  • E-flite 10-Amp Pro Brushless ESC
  • E-flite 430 2s battery pack
  • 2 E-flite Super Sub-Micro S60 Servos


The SE5A looks great right out of the box, and a lot of the work has been done for you. You can expect completion in about 3-4 hours.

Completed out of the box:

  • Surfaces hinged
  • Decals applied
  • Pushrods installed and ready to hook up
  • Landing gear bent
  • Cowl attached to the fuselage

The builder needs to:

  • Install Cabane struts
  • Install the power system
  • Install the rudder and elevator
  • Install radio system
  • Install wings, struts and flying wires
  • Install landing gear
  • Install machine gun


The instructions call for the E-flite 250 to be glued to the included motor tube with RTV silicone. I lightly sanded the inside of the motor tube where it would contact the motor and used canopy glue. I did the same with the Jenny, and it has held up great. Just make sure you do not get any glue in the bearing.

The tube is then glued to the fuse. I also sanded the areas that the tube would contact the fuselage for better adhesion.

Rudder and Elevator

The rudder and elevator are attached to each other first, and then the control horns are glued into place, and the rudder and elevator are glued to the fuselage. This is an area where E-Flite has improved on by strengthening the rudder and elevator where the horn attaches.

Radio Installation

The radio installation is straightforward. The two servos mount in the fuselage in one opening, the recommended servos fit with no modification. Just in front of the servo opening two lightening holes are covered by foam. I chose to open them up to route the servo wires through to keep them out of the way and keep them from being smashed by the servo. The receiver mounts to the back of the motor box; I used velcro so the receiver can be easily removed. The speed control mounts to the backside of the firewall where it can get good airflow.

Wing Installation

The bottom wing attaches to the fuselage with 4 screws. Use a fine point sharpie and mark the holes. I used a pin vise to drill the holes and then screwed the wing down with the supplied screws.

The manual has you first mount the top wing and then add the outer struts. I chose to dry fit the outer struts, which helped line up the wing, so that I could mark the location of the holes in the cabanes. Once I was happy with the alignment, I used a pin vise to make the four small holes in the cabane struts to screw down the wing. I used foam safe CA on the struts after the top wing was screwed down.

Landing Gear

The landing gear slides into two slots: one slot behind the wing and one in front of the wing with the main axle leading forward. The wheels then press onto the landing gear and are held on by retainers. I used Thayer Syme's idea of drilling out the wheel hub and glued in a piece of 3/32 aluminum tubing to make the wheel hubs a little more durable for landings on rough grass.


Rigging thread is provided in the kit and is very easy to do thanks to the holes in the struts, cabanes and fuselage to allow you to run the thread through. The thread should have very light tension when gluing it to the struts with foam safe CA. Warning... be careful when rigging the wings so that you do not pull too tightly on the thread; you can take the dihedral out of the wing.


While not part of the kit, I decided my semi-scale, open cockpit biplane needed a pilot to be complete. Wanting to keep it light, I used label paper to print my pilot and stuck it to a piece of spare foam, and then taped it inside the cockpit. My CG was right on the mark of 1 3/4 inches behind the leading edge of the top wing against the cabane struts. My E-flite 430 battery attached with velcro to the bottom of the ply motor box in about the same location as the manual recommended. The flying weight came to 8oz as stated in the manual and that includes the addition of the pilot.


The first flight was at the local club field. Flying was done by Doc Austin so I could shoot the video. The wind was constant at 8-10 mph with a few gusts thrown in. It was close to dark so it was now or wait for a better day and who wants to wait? You can see in the video that the takeoff roll was no more than five feet. Normally we would have made a more scale takeoff, but due to wind we wanted to get her in the air quickly. A couple of clicks of down was all that was required to get the SE5A flying straight and level. Doc Austin is an aerobatic and 3D flyer and does not own any slow-flyer aircraft. I was amazed at the enjoyment he got out of flying the SE5A (watch the video to hear his comments). The plane looked good in the camera but I was eager to try her for myself. Austin limited his flight to three minutes, and it was my turn.

During my turn at the sticks I was happy with how well the SE5A flew, especially in the wind. The rudder has good authority, and the dihedral built into the wings assists in righting the plane when coming out of a turn. Even in the wind I was able to pull of a touch and go and a nice landing.

The SE5A follows in the footsteps of the Jenny being nicely detailed, and it can fly slow enough and close enough that anyone can appreciate its good looks.

All flights were done using a GWS EP7035 prop which provided 5.61 amps and 37.8 watts static.

Take Off and Landing

The SE5A with the E-flite 250 can take off in about 5 feet on a hard surface. This can be extended for a more scale take-off. In the grass, I chose to hand launch it just above half throttle.

Landing is a non-event as you can land it at a walking pace with the motor running or bring it in and cut the throttle and glide to a nice landing.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Characteristics

The only aerobatic maneuver I have tried with the SE5A is a loop which it can easily do from level flight. To me, this plane’s special flight characteristics are the abilities to fly at about a walking pace and to keep the plane in close and low to the ground. Making repeated touch and go's on a hard surface or passes three feet off the deck are quite enjoyable.

Is This Plane For A Beginner

Yes. The SE5A with its light wing loading allows for very slow flight and the 3 channel control (Rudder, Elevator & Throttle) keeps it simple. Also the dihedral assists new pilots in self righting the plane after a turn.

Photo Gallery/Flight Video


The SE5A in the air  43.37 MB


The E-flite SE5A is a great looking, easy to build slow flyer that will put a smile on your face with every fly-by or touch and go. E-flite has packed a lot of scale appeal into a lightweight package for indoor or outdoor flying.


  • Easy to fly
  • Great semi-scale looks
  • Short assembly time
  • Good written instructions
  • No decals to apply


  • Rigging thread allows to much give allowing the wings to flex excessively when making tight turns, loops or flying in higher than recommended wind.
Last edited by Angela H; Mar 28, 2008 at 08:47 PM..
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Apr 01, 2008, 12:38 PM
Registered User
skunkworks2006's Avatar
Nice review. I love mine... enough that I have an extra airframe waiting when my crashed and rebuilt SE5a has flown it's last, I'll be ready to transplant the gear into a fresh one.
I've had lots of fun flying this at the local park, indoors, and even in my back yard. It looks great and the profile against the sunset is unmistakable. It is really nice to be able to step outside my suburban home and fly anytime the wind is not blowing hard. Lots of comments from onlookers are standard.
My only concern is the strength of the wings. Some tape under the wings or replacing the included string with stronger mono-filament seem to work for some. I added carbon rod after folding up the wings during a loop (after several previous successful loops). Although if it is flown scale-like and gentle, your results may be different than mine.
Thanks for sharing the review and the video. It's always fun to have variety in the hanger.
Apr 01, 2008, 12:57 PM
Been There! Done That!
boomerace's Avatar
Well done review as always! I have 3 now flying. One as you reviewed and 2 reinforced that are way overpowered ( over 100W/lb) one with ailerons and other with just R/E/T. Love all 3.
Apr 01, 2008, 01:42 PM
Registered User

Rigging thread allows to much give allowing the wings to flex excessively when making tight turns, loops or flying in higher than recommended wind. >>

I made that lines of nylon fishing lines and put carbon sticks in the points of crossing (like real airplanes have). My SE.5 equiped with much more powerfull motor and 3S 700 ma/hr battery and flys very fast with no problem even when wind is strong enough.
Last edited by willi_m; Apr 02, 2008 at 10:35 AM.
Apr 01, 2008, 02:10 PM
Registered User
For the landing gear, what size drill bit did you use? the 3/32" is the inner diameter, correct?
Apr 01, 2008, 07:36 PM
Doctor Who's Avatar
Originally Posted by DaveInLA
For the landing gear, what size drill bit did you use? the 3/32" is the inner diameter, correct?
I believe it was 3/32"
I just used my calipers to measure to get the right size.
Apr 01, 2008, 07:40 PM
1Corinthians 13:1-8
DWA's Avatar
Great review and great plane.
Apr 02, 2008, 10:19 AM
Registered User
Michael Heer's Avatar
Nice review and plane but as discussed above stronger line for rigging makes for a firmer and better flying plane even if you stay with the standard power. The one I saw had monofilament line but he used a black magic marker on it and it loooked very good. Mike
Apr 02, 2008, 11:48 AM
Been There! Done That!
boomerace's Avatar
On all 3 of mine I used 30# test braided Spider Wire Fishing line which is very small diameter. I tie it to my bench vise and stretch it as much as possible without breaking it and then use it for the rigging. Dark in color and looks like cable and never loosens and it sure as heck is strong enough!
Apr 02, 2008, 03:30 PM
"Have Glue - Will Travel"
dawnron1's Avatar
Great review, Jay. I'm looking for another good indoor flier and this may be it!

Apr 02, 2008, 03:32 PM
Good review, the plane has a cool profile in the air.

Apr 03, 2008, 12:43 AM
Registered User
1toslope's Avatar
Great review...
Apr 03, 2008, 01:56 AM
Every flight is a maiden!
johnm15141's Avatar
Whoa, you definitely have to go to starbucks, get some of those little stir straws, slice them and paint them. Then put them on the gear wire, makes it look realistic...
Apr 03, 2008, 03:22 PM
badpilotto's Avatar
Really, nice review, it makes me want to build mine right now. Thank you for the great insight

Apr 03, 2008, 04:16 PM
Suspended Account
EDF30's Avatar
That is such a good looking foamie. I've thought about getting one. I have a Guillows SE5A that I've flown. My favorite WWI bipe.


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