by: Andy Brazier [ ]
The SPAD XIII was a French biplane fighter aircraft of World War I, developed by Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD) from the earlier highly successful SPAD VII. It was one of the most capable fighters of the war, and one of the most-produced, with 8,472 built and orders for around 10,000 more cancelled at the Armistice. In 1917, Bechereau designed the definitive SPAD XIII, using the bigger 220 h.p. Hispano-Suiza, which allowed an increase in armament to two Vickers machine guns.
The airplane did reach the front in limited numbers in the spring of 1917, but difficulties in production, and a redesign of the upper wing, meant that it did not reach the front in appreciable numbers until late 1917 and did not fully replace the SPAD VII until the spring of 1918. It became the main French high altitude fighter. It was also flown by the American, Belgian, British, Czech, Italian, Japan and Siamese Air Services from 1918-1928.
In the box
This kit, I believe, is basically the same as the earlier released Spad XIII kit no 7052, but this version has a Photo Etch set included.
So in the box are two tan coloured sprues, one clear sprue a set of masks, P.E fret, a colour instruction booklet and the decal sheet. The parts are free from flash, well moulded and injector pin marks are few. The one area that has 4 pin marks is under the upper fuselage half. These will have to be removed for the top to fit the bottom half properly.
Surprisingly as this kit is the about the size of my finger, the cockpit is well detailed, with frame work and some levers, which can be replaced with P.E, moulded onto the inside of the fuselage halves. The floor also sports some nice detail with a couple of control columns fitted. The seat has a cushion texture moulded onto the seat, which scale-wise is overdone, but at least its there. The seat also has some nice P.E belts supplied. The instrument panel has decals for the dials, which should help painting that bit.
Exterior detail for the kit is pretty good with the wings and fuselage having some subtle rib detail. Engraved lines for the ailerons and rudder, and thin struts, which look to be extremely delicate.The fuselage is broken down into three parts, with two lower halves and a top part, which has the horizontal stabilizers attached already. The Vickers machine guns are tiny but there is a little detail there, which with some careful painting should look fairly decent. Engine detail is limited to some P.E engine panels, a couple of cylinder head fairings, a radiator and some water pipes. The wings are both one piece affairs and are nice and thin. Fitting the upper wing onto the wing and fuselage struts looks like it could be a nightmare lol.
A few of the parts are aircraft specific but the instructions do tell you which part should go on which aircraft you want to depict, except for the propeller. You have a choice of the Eclair Co. profile and the Gremont Co. profile, so you will have to check your references for the correct type to use.
The Photo etch sheet is an unpainted steel fret, that holds the seat belts, engine panels, gun-sight and some other very small parts that are used along the way. Detail is exquisite with one set of engine panels having a fantastic looking mesh pattern.
The Express masks are for the windscreen, wheels and some straight masks should you wish to paint the tricolor markings on the wings of decal option A.
Instructions and decals
The instructions are printed in a nice A-5 size colour booklet. The build sequence looks to be pretty logical and is spread over two pages, with any decals and P.E parts highlighted in each step. Interior colours are given along the way for the Gunze line of paints. A nice touch is the rigging diagram at the end of the build sequence. The rest of the booklet contains the colour profile drawings of 4 aircraft that can be modelled. All the aircraft have the 5 colour camo scheme.
The decals have little carrier film around them and look to be in perfect register. Colour wise they look pretty good. The aircraft that can be modelled are:
A - Lieutenant Charles Nungesser, Escadrille SPA.65 ( GC.13 ), September, 1918.
B - Sergent Fernand Chavannes, Escadrille SPA.112, August, 1918.
C - Adjutant Marius Blanc, Escadrille SPA.81 ( GC.15 ), Summer, 1918.
D - Captaine René Fonck, Escadrille SPA.103 ( GC.15 ), Fall, 1918.
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