The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.2 (Scout Experimental) was an early British single-seat scout aircraft. Designed and built at the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1913 as the B.S.1, the prototype was rebuilt several times before serving with the Royal Flying Corps, being operated over the Western Front in the early months of the First World War.
The first airplanes were not looked upon as weapons of destruction, but as “scouts”. Even at the end of the war, the fighter types, such as the Sopwith Snipe and Fokker D8, were still classified as scouts.
Although horses were used to scout out the enemies' wherabouts, the airplane had a much more freedom of movement, and, unharrassed by the enemy, could monitor the enemies' movement and positions from a great altitude.
At the start of the war, planes on either side were unarmed, and pilots from opposing sides would wave and smile at each other as they flew by each other, in a sort of “comraderie of the sky”. This harmony between pilots would not last for long, though. The first pilot to attack his opponent in the air is not recorded, but it most likely happened like this-a pilot whose friendly smile was answered by a thumbed nose or other rude gesture carried bricks or some other type of missile up with him on his next mission and gleefully dropped it on the first unsuspecting opponent he came across. Soon pilots began carrying rifles and pistols into the air and traded shots.