1/48 DML Spad XIII
by Caz Dalton
"BY DAWN'S EARLY LIGHT"
UNITED STATES AIR SERVICE
NIEUWIED, GERMANY - SPRING 1919
LT. REED CHAMBERS
The airplane, which has survived
the years as the symbol of the United States during World War I, is the SPAD. It
has been featured in novels, short stories, and motion pictures. The type of
SPAD used in connection with American Squadrons refers to the SPAD 13.C1.
Originally, the initials SPAD had
stood for Societe pour les Appareils
Duperdussin (the Company of Duperdussin Products). When taken over by
aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot because of financial difficulties on the eve of
World War I, it was renamed Societe
pour Aviation et ses Derives (The Company for Aviation and its
Derivatives), thus retaining the same acronym.
In their general structure, SPAD
aircraft were a fairly conventional design for their day. The sole exception was
the tie-struts at the midpoint of the wing span, so positioned as to prevent the
flying and landing wires from whipping in flight. This innovation gave the Spad
the appearance of a two-bay biplane, although it was actually a single-bay
The upper wing was a one-piece
structure, with a slightly longer span and chord than the lower wing, which was
a two-piece construction. The spars were built up of a number of sections joined
by linen-wrapped scarfing. The leading edges were made entirely of spruce and
the trailing edges were cable, which were tightened and doped to give a slightly
scalloped effect. Both wings were without dihedral.
The fuselage was of wood, with
transverse bulkheads of heavy-gauge sheet steel with lightening holes. There
were four longerons joined by transverse elements, the whole structure braced
diagonally with piano wire. The fuselage structure was covered with doped linen
from just aft of the cockpit to the rear, with plywood and sheet metal covering
the area aft of the cockpit forward. The top and bottom deckings were rounded.
The vertical and horizontal tailplanes were constructed of wood and cable and
covered with doped linen.
The undercarriage legs were formed
in a single piece built up from laminated poplar. The axle was articulated at
the center. The function of shock absorbers was performed by elastic cord
(bungee) between the wheels and on the steel-bound wooden tail skid.
All SPADs, with exception of the
rotary-powered A2, were powered by 8-cylinder 90° V-type Hispano-Suiza engines,
ranging in various models from 140 to 300 hp, and cooled by a nearly circular
radiator with vertical shutters for temperature control. The main fuel tank was
fitted beneath the main fuselage structure and connected to a fuel feed well
suspended from the upper wing center section; the smaller secondary tank was fed
by a pump driven by the engine, which also drove the oil and water pumps.
The SPAD 13 bore a strong family
resemblance to its predecessors; the SPAD 7 and SPAD 12, however, it was
slightly larger. The fuselage was five inches longer than the SPAD 7 and the
wingspan was one foot five inches longer. The SPAD 13 was also heavier weighing
1,888.5 pounds, compared to the 1,544.5 pounds for the SPAD 7. The cabane struts
were given a slight forward stagger, although the wings were rigged with no
The SPAD 13's primary improvement
over the SPAD 7 was in its armament. The SPAD 13 carried double the firepower of
the SPAD 7 with two Vickers .303 caliber machine guns being mounted in deep
troughs on the upper decking in front of the cockpit. Ammunition boxes were
located in the fuselage between the guns holding a total of 800 rounds (400
rounds per gun). The guns had individual triggers and could be fired separately
or together. Spent shell castings were ejected into a chute that funneled them
away from the pilot and out through a port on the lower fuselage just above each
The main fuel tank was varied
slightly also. Displacement of fuel to the front and rear of the main fuel tank
during dives and climbs (when fuel levels were below 30 to 35 liters; 8-9
gallons) caused interruption of fuel to the engine. The solution was to
partition the fuel tank into two compartments, each with its own feeder pipe.
The SPAD 13 at first retained the
200 hp Hispano-Suiza 8C engine, but later models utilized the 220 hp type 8BEa
Hispano-Suiza. Tests using the latter engine gave a speed at 2,000 meters (6,560
feet) of 218 kph (136 mph) and 203 kph (126 mph) at 5,000 meters (16,400 feet).
Time to climb was four minutes forty seconds and eighteen minutes thirty
seconds, respectively. The aircraft's theoretical ceiling was given as 6,800
meters (22,300 feet), however, it is doubtful that any SPAD 13 ever achieved
The first United States Squadron to
be equipped with the SPAD was the 94th, which received their SPAD 13s in July
1918. The SPAD 13 was to equip fifteen USAS (United States Air Service)
Squadrons, augmented by the few SPAD 7s that remained in service. In all, 893
Spad 13s were delivered to the USAS before the war ended. All that were
serviceable at the time of occupation withdrawal were shipped back to the United
States to be used for training, 435 of these being re-engined with 180 hp
ABOUT THE AIRCRAFT MODELED:
During the winter of 1918/19 and
the spring of 1919, several USAS Squadrons were assigned occupational duties
inside Germany to police the Armistice regulations. Eddie Rickenbacker's famed
Hat-In-Ring 94th Squadron was assigned to Nieuwied, Germany during the duration
and many of the pilots repainted their SPADs in rather colorful paint schemes.
The American Flag scheme as depicted on my model was carried on the SPAD 13
flown by Lt. Reed Chambers, who had seven confirmed combat victories at war's
end. It should be noted that the pilots of the 94th quickly found out that the
performance of their SPAD 13s suffered because of the weight of the paint needed
to apply these color schemes.
I had wanted to do a model of this
airplane ever since I first saw a picture and color profile in Squadron/Signal's
SPAD FIGHTERS in action. I used DML's Knights of the Sky Series Number 5902 kit
of the SPAD 13, which includes decals for this colorful airplane.
The cockpit to this kit is as
complete as one can get in this scale. It clearly puts Revell's 1/28th scale kit
to shame. It matches the interior photos found in WINDSOCK DATAFILE 32, SPAD
13.C1 by J. M. Bruce to the tee, so much so that I think it may be the same
plane used for DML's mold makers.
I first painted the fuselage
interior with Polly-S Clear Doped Linen, after which I brush painted the wood
longerons and stringers with Gunze Sandy Brown. The wood was also dry-brushed
with Testors Tan and Tamiya Flat brown and the recesses picked out with a .005
technical pin and India ink. Piano bracing wire was simulated with smoke-colored
invisible thread. The upper cowling piece was brush painted flat black forward
of the cockpit area on its interior, as was the top exterior of the two
The floorboard, upper decking,
firewall, seat, and cockpit area on the upper cowling piece were painted Testors
Tan and dry-brushed with Gunze Sandy Brown and Tamiya Flat Brown. The upper
decking instrument and fuel control panel was painted sandy brown and
dry-brushed with tan and flat brown. (This appears darker in the WINDSOCK
DATAFILE photos and are usually the result of either different woods or newer
wood and older wood being used together.)
The interior reserve fuel tank was
painted flat brown and given a black wash. Securing straps were brushed painted
steel and the fuel pipe painted flat aluminum. I also added additional fuel feed
pipes using like-sized non-resin solder, which was brushed painted flat aluminum
to match the plastic. The fuel gauge pipe was simulated with 34 gauge wire.
Instrument wiring was also simulated using 28 and 34 gauge wire.
The seat and rudder mounts were
painted flat aluminum. I painted the rudder control tan, shadowed the recesses
with a .005 tech pen and India ink, and brush painted the foot pedals steel. I
drilled out the center control section and cemented two control wires cut from
smoke-colored invisible thread. The joystick was painted Gunze IJA Gray, with
the handle painted flat black and given a brushing of skin oil to semi gloss it.
The two gun control cables were constructed of 34 gauge wire and the elevator
control cables were simulated with invisible thread.
All photo-etched instruments were
painted either white or black as per photos in WINDSOCK DATAFILE, after which I
sanded the instruments with used 3600 grit sandpaper. This brought out the metal
highpoints and left the instrument faces painted. I then super glued the
instruments to their proper locations. The two gauges on the upper decking panel
were painted white and black, with the needles picked out in black and silver
respectively. The fuel control levers were dry-brushed with Testors Chrome
Silver and the panel mounts were dry-brushed with steel. The fuel gauge in the
floorboard was done by first using a black decal punched with a Waldron #4 punch
and following with a white decal done with a #3 punch. The needle was brushed on
in black after the decals have dried thoroughly and all gauges were given a drop
of Johnson's FUTURE.
The photo-etched throttle control
was painted in clear flat and attached to the port fuselage as per kit
instructions. The magneto firing starter was painted flat aluminum and cemented
to the starboard fuselage half. The cockpit bay was assembled and attached to
the starboard fuselage half.
The seat, having previously been
painted, was now attended to. I brush painted the seat cushion Tamiya Red Brown.
The photo-etched seat belts were painted Gunze Sail Color and the buckles were
lightly sanded and given a brushing of clear flat acrylic. The seat was then
cemented into place on its mount. I substituted masking tape for the shoulder
harnesses, but used the photo-etched buckles, as I found the tape easier to
manipulate into position on the upper decking and into the seat after the
fuselage halves were joined. I might add that the two louvered intakes (parts B
8 & 9) were firmly cemented into each fuselage half before cementing the two
Fuselage and Wings:
After dry fitting and reassuring
myself that the interior was secure and all pieces were aligned, I cemented the
two fuselage halves, upper cowling piece, lower cowling piece, radiator, and
lower wing together. After sanding the joints to my liking I attached the two
cylinder head fairings. I then assembled and attached the undercarriage. The
rear landing skid was painted flat brown and dry-brushed in tan and sandy brown.
The skid protector was brushed with steel, but attachment was held off until
The two photo-etched intake covers
(Parts MA 3 & 4) were first carefully cut out with a Dremel cutting bit and
then a file and sandpaper. The resulting intake bracing pieces were then super
glued to their respective louvered intakes. These were clearly visible in
Squadron/Signal's SPAD FIGHTERS in action photo of the actual plane. I also
simulated two safety cables on the main fuel tank underneath the fuselage wing
section with 34 gauge wire.
The cabane struts were glued into
their slots on the upper cowling, but I used invisible thread for the rigging
instead of the photo-etched pieces provided. I also attached two more pieces of
invisible thread for additional flying wires running from the forward cabane
struts diagonally to the recessed area in the upper cowling as per reference
The two photo-etched shell casing
chutes were cemented into their slots on the two fuselage halves, but I found it
easier to cut away the bottom section, bend the top and two sides, and replace
the bottom with evergreen strip. The photo-etched vent was attached to the lower
cowling piece at this time also.
Machine guns were assembled as per
instructions, with exception of drilling two holes in the barrel ends once they
were attached to accommodate a section of 25 gauge hypodermic needle for each
barrel. These were prefitted and the photo-etched gun sight was super glued in
place. The guns were painted Tamiya Gun Metal, given a black wash, and lightly
highlighted with SNJ polish. They were then set aside until final assembly. The
telescopic gun sight was clearly visible in the reference photo of this
aircraft, so the kit piece was used after drilling out both ends, painting it
semi-gloss black, and applying two drops of 5-minute epoxy to each end for the
lens. I had previously drilled out the rear flashed over hole for the sight, but
had to measure and drill the forward mounting hole. It should be mentioned that
the gunsight should be offset to the starboard side and not mounted in the
center as stated in Military Aircraft Preview; check your references! The
gunsight was also attached in the final assembly.
The windshield framing was painted
Gunze Red and attachment was held off until final assembly. The headrest was
painted Tamiya Red Brown, given a brushing of skin oil, and also set aside with
the final assembly pieces. The exhausts were lightly scribed at the ends with a
dental scraping tool, after which they were painted steel, given a black wash on
the ends, and highlighted with SNJ polish. These too went into the final
assembly box after dry fitting them so as to cement the photo-etched exhaust
braces. I also drilled a hole for the radiator drain plug, but this was not
attached until painting and decaling was completed.
All strut mounting holes on the
upper side of the lower wing and the lower side of the upper wing were given
greater depth by cutting them deeper with a Dremel square cutting engraving bit
held in a pen vise. It should be mentioned the outer main wing struts were
thirty-eight one thousandths of an inch longer than the inner photo-etched wire
tie struts. This may not sound like much, but if one attached all the eight
photo-etched rigging eyelets before cutting off a little from each end of the
main struts, then the inner struts would not fit into the upper wing slots. The
wire tie struts were carefully covered with 5-minute epoxy in the wood areas as
they appear too thin when compared to photos of the actual thing. All struts
were painted sandy brown and given a dry-brushing of tan and flat brown, with
all rigging eyelets painted steel. They were then set aside for attachment after
the upper wing and fuselage assembly were painted and decaled.
The photo-etched bell cranks were
painted steel and the photo-etched aileron control rods were painted sandy
brown, with the usual drybrushing of tan and flat brown. These were not attached
until final assembly. The vertical and horizontal tailplanes were cleaned up and
set aside for the painting stage, which I now attended to.
Painting and decaling:
The upper wing, fuselage and lower
wing assembly, and rear tailplanes were primed with flat white, after which the
upper surfaces of both wings and fuselage aft of the rear cabane struts were
painted gloss white. The upper surfaces of both wings were masked and the lower
surfaces of both wings were painted with the proper mix called for in the
instructions. This color closely matched the beige (FS 23448) used as standard
under surface camouflage on SPADs.
The under side of the wings were now masked and the upper sides of the wings and the rear fuselage were masked and painted Gunze Red. The masking outline for the wings on both the instruction sheet and Squadron/Signal's color profile are both incorrect. I used the photo in Squadron/Signal for reference, which shows that the red should run alongside the inside of the struts and the red and white covering every two ribs concurrently.
The entire lower wing and rear
fuselage were now masked and the forward fuselage and under fuselage between the
lower wings were painted Gunze Bright Blue. The rear tailplanes and wheels were
also painted Gunze Bright Blue at this time. The tires were brush painted Gunze
Tire Black after the blue had dried. The hubs were brushed with steel and the
entire wheel given a black wash. The tires were also given a liberal wash of
Gunze Mud, and the wheels were dry-brushed with mud, as was the rear tail skid
and under surface of the lower wing behind the wheels. The tires were decaled
and set aside for final assembly.
The radiator was masked and the
opening painted steel, given a black wash, and highlighted with SNJ polish. The
propeller was first painted flat and gloss white, then masked and painted flat
brown, with the wood area given a semi-wet wash of tan and sandy brown. The
entire propeller was given a coating of Johnson's FUTURE after the paints have
completely dried and the propeller boss was brush painted steel and given a
black wash in the recesses. The propeller was set aside for final assembly.
After the paint had dried I started
to apply the decals, which proved to be traumatic. The upper wing decal was so
translucent that the red and white shown through like a sore thumb. I removed
the upper wing decal and immediately called Marco Polo and set about on my quest
for two duplicate decal sheets. While waiting the three weeks for these to
arrive I carefully cut masks for the upper and lower roundels from a circle
drafting template and painted the areas to be decaled gloss white so as to have
a solid color backing for the decals when they arrived. I still had to double up
on the wing roundels in order to get a dark enough red and blue. The white in
the decals is more of a bone color, but I left it as is. Why can't kit
manufactors provide us with a truly opaque white decal ink?
I applied the rear tailplane decals
and the stars to the forward fuselage. These also had to be doubled up as the
white, though not bone colored, was still translucent and allowed the blue
undercoat to show through. The yellow strut tape bracing were applied using some
victory marking I had left over from an old MicroScale decal sheet for ME-109s.
The Hat-In-Ring decals were also doubled up after first applying a solid white
decal underneath in the area of the hat band and red and white stripes.
After all decals had dried I washed
the model in a light mixture of dishwashing detergent and water and dried it
with paper towel. The upper wing and all final assembly components were now
attached and the area to the rear of each exhaust was weathered with powdered
black pastel. All louvers and control surface recesses were picked out with a
.005 technical pen and India ink and rigging was attached using smoke-colored
invisible thread. Lifting straps were lastly added, these being constructed from
sanded brown auto striping tape.
The model was placed on a base I
constructed from a $1.00 wood frame purchased at Family Dollar and an eight by
ten piece of mat board that had been covered with self adhesive green felt. The
plaque was first done on a WordPerfect processor, after which I had a local
trophy shop copy it onto a plaque.
Apostolo, Giorgio, and Begnozzi,
Giorgio, COLOR PROFILES OF WORLD WAR I COMBAT PLANES, Crescent Books, 419
Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016, 1974.
Bruce, J. M., WINDSOCK DATAFILE 32
- SPAD 13.C1, Albatros Productions, Ltd., 10 Long View, Berkhamsted, Herts HP4
1BY, United Kingdom, 1992.
Connors, John F., SPAD FIGHTERS in
action, Squadron/Signal Publications, Inc., 1115 Crowley Dr., Carrollton, TX
Photos and text © by Caz Dalton