The French Société Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD) S. XIII evolved as a development of the successful S. VII. SPAD’s Chief designer, Louis Béchereau, slightly enlarged and strengthened the S. VII airframe.

One of the main drawbacks of the S. VII was its inadequate single gun armament. The S.XIII used more powerful Hispano-Suiza engines (the 200hp HS-8Ba engine and the later HS-8Bb rated at 235hp), allowing the S. XIII to carry two Vickers machine guns with 400 rounds each.

The first prototype took to the air on April 4th, 1917 with Rene Dorme at the controls. Due to the weight increase, it was less maneuverable than the S. VII, but the rate of climb and top speed were improved. Initially, the type had rounded wing tips that were later “squared-off”. The S.XIII proved very effective in combat, .Many aces flew in it, and it was operated by many different Air Forces, including Argentina (two aircraft), Belgium, Brazil, Czechoslovakia (Post-war), France, Greece, Italy, Japan, Poland (Post-war), Russian Empire, Siam (Thailand), Kingdom of Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and Uruguay.

Finished S.P.A.D. XIII in the colors of famous ace Rene Fonck

Eduard released a brand new kit of this plane in 1/48 scale (product number 8196) in September 2008. The kit resembles their smaller kit in 1/72 scale, and of course captures all of the quality respected for their products. The quality of the parts is first class, and the kit includes a great number of parts. Note that this is relatively small airplane. This is a special edition, including painting masks, a pre-painted etched set. The basic plastic parts are provided on three plastic frets and one clear sprue.

Regardless of the number of parts, the kit assembly is suitable for a modeler with some experience, due to the complexity. Thanks to a very good parts design, it is possible to make whole kit without use of the etched parts, so a “weekend edition” kit will likely make an appearance in the near future.

Most of the small parts are related to the cockpit. The instrument panel as well as the pilot’s seat represent the state of the art in modeling (and are easily visible when the kit is finally assembled). This kit could be built to be very authentic and eye-catching.

Four different variants may be modeled from options of
• Windscreens;
• wing centre-section;
• gun sight; and
• markings.

My choice was focused on the S.P.A.D. XIII flown in combat by the greatest French air ace, René Fonck. He was a marvelous pilot, and a skilled hunter who waited for the right moment to deliver a deadly burst from machine guns. One of his abilities was self-control and an unwavering nerve. He was attracted by chivalry and his fighting style was unlike that portrayed in novels with a ton of bullets fired, planes soaked in blood an so on… actually René Fonck reputedly shot and killed swiftly with a maximum ten bullets. His confirmed total score was 75 aerial kills including six in a single day (on 9 May 1917), and three in the space of ten seconds on 14 August of the same year. In today’s terms, he was the ultimate professional!!

There is some doubt related to the colors used and recommended in the kit. First of all, there is the blue colour of the roundel and flag. Some preserved samples indicate that this color is medium dark blue grey, but a few samples preserved in the USA indicate a deep bright blue color. The kit decals are deep bright blue, and it is more possible that the actual color blue grey. Other things which need attention are the camouflage colors.

In the French system of camouflage, the basic color was approximately 40% filled with  metal pigment, and this mixture was used over the fabric-covered areas and over the metal and wood surfaces  surfaces was used paint without this metal pigment, though it appeared differently over the fabric-covered surfaces compared to the metal/wood surfaces (so it should be treated as being two different colours). Please note this when making the model. In this article are attached digital chips for these colors based on published research as well as preserved samples of color. These should be considered only as a guide, as it is impossible after many decades to state correct colors. We can only note that “brown” was red brown, “ochre” could be described as light brown, “dark green” is very dark green and “light green” is a lighter version of the “dark green” (medium green). Note also that the cream color over the metal surfaces is not the same as the dope of the fabric underside.

Without doubt, this is another great product released by Eduard and it is highly recommended!!

Srecko Bradic

Text editor: Bruce Grayson

Sample kit is provided by Jana Sulcova from Eduard