1/48 Lindberg SE 5a

by Polly Singh


Roy leans on a walking stick after his crash landing and  discusses the event with the adjutant

While it is well known that several hundred thousand Indian troops were flung into the line on the western front in World War I, little is known of four airmen that fought in the air for the RFC.  One of them, Lt Indra lal ‘Laddie’ Roy went on to score nine confirmed kills before falling to Fokker D VIIs on 22 Jul 1918.  Roy was the second son of Bengali Zamindar family of Calcutta.  After graduating from Balliol College, Oxford he joined the RFC in early 1917.  After training he joined the famous 56 Sqn, home to such famous aces as James Mc Cudden et al.

Lt Roy sometime around 1917. The 40 sqn crest, with the broom badge.  The motto devised by Major Mannock reads- “sweep the Huns from the air”


However, on 06 Nov he crash landed whilst flying SE5 (Scout Experimental 5) B 567.  Lying unconscious, he was taken for dead and laid out with other dead in a morgue at Etaples, France.  After coming to, he kept banging on the closed morgue door but the frightened attendant did not open the door until well after he had stopped shouting in his school boy French.  After recuperating and a further stint of training in England he joined 40 sqn at Bryas in France under Major AW Keene MC.  Flying SE 5As again he became a protégé to George McElroy and soon claimed his first victory, a Hannover scout on 06 Jul 1918.  Steadily increasing his score, several times shooting down two machines on the same patrol he had been credited with a confirmed nine kills in 13 days by 19 Jul. But by the time his award of the DFC was gazzetted on 10 Sep, he was dead.  On the 22 Jul at 0830 he had climbed with the dawn patrol when the flight was attacked by four Fokker D VIIs.  Even as two of the attackers were shot down, Roy was seen flaming downwards over Carvin in German territory.    He was buried in the Levil cemetery near Lens.  He thus became the first Indian to win the DFC and also the only Indian to claim nine kills so far.  His example has remained a shining light for all Indians and indeed his nephew, Subroto Mukerjee was amongst the first batch of pilots to be commissioned in the fledgling IAF from Cranfield in 1933 and became the first Indian Chief of Air Staff.

 IL Roy (later RFC) (rear right) is seen with his brother PL Roy (rear left) of the Honorable Artillery Company (HAC) on 20 Dec 1914 at OTC.  PL Roy survived the war.

This is the Lindberg 1/48 SE 5A re issue of the unremarkable 1958 kit. The kit is pretty basic with an oversized foster mount on the upper main plane (although Wolsley geared Hispano Suiza engine SE 5 s had theirs raised by 3 ½ inches to clear the prop arc) including an oversized Lewis gun.  Both had to be pared down and a trigger wire added from the trigger to the cockpit.  An Aldis sight was also fitted and a new acetate windscreen to resemble the Avro windscreen fitted.  The standard scheme of PC 10 Khaki over all upper surfaces and fabric wrapped centre struts was achieved by using WW II Braun violet.  There are a least 20 books out there on what PC 10 (pigmented Cellulose spec 10) looked like, but they varied in broad terms, amongst five individual preparations and I felt that braun violet came closest to the Khaki..  The undersides were painted a yellowish cream to represent the clear dope.  The individual markings were hand painted and decals from the spares box were used for the roughly hand painted fin serials.  Rigging was silk pulled through pre drilled holes which were later filled with super glue and paint. The four bladed 200hp airscrew was modified to resemble the two bladed version.  The figures are white metal from Airwaves and painted to represent the RFC Khaki green cavalry uniform with early RFC wings.  The base is my son’s Burrago car base for his BMW Z8 covered with some railway scenic grass sheet.


SE 5 B 189 of 40 sqn.  Roy sent down a Hannover, his first kill on 06 Jul and another on 08 Jul in this aircraft.  On that date he shared another Hannover and also sent down a Fokker D VII.  40 sqn carried special markings on their ac such as the white stripes on the elevators and the ac’s individual letter was transferred from the fuselage to the fin top.  The zigzag marking on the rear fuselage can also be seen. The ‘painted over’ letter ‘S’ on the fuselage can still be seen.

Photos and text © by Polly Singh