Saturday, October 29, 2011

Germany 1917 Pfalz D.IIIa Jasta 30

Three Pfalz D.IIIa From Jasta 30

Many Pfalz D.III were mainly silver in color with black markings. However some Jasta used a consistent paint scheme to aid in unit identification. Jasta 10 had yellow noses, Jasta 40 were black with white aft sections, Jasta 18 had their iconic red and blue paint scheme. Jasta 30 was easy to spot because of their large diamond shaped unit insignia. The color of the diamond was not always consistent but the shape was easy to see.

This example is painted overall with a mixture of varnish and aluminum powder, except for the rudder which is painted white with black trim and the Iron Cross. The diamond Jasta insignia is yellow-orange with black border and the fuelage has a black chevron style stripe. The Iron Crosses on the wings and fuselage do not have a border.

The basic paint scheme is similar to the previous example except the diamond and the empanage are painted red. The tail plane is silver. The rudder cross has been painted over.

The aluminum finished fuselage has striking black stripes and a red diamond. The empanage is painted white with black border. The Maltese Cross indicates this aircraft was still flying after the spring of 1918 The wings are covered in four color lozenge fabric. The wings have dark lozenges on the top surfaces and a lighter pattern on the bottom. There are white bordered Iron crosses on the upper top wing an the lower bottom wing. The wheel cover is covered with the same fabric used on the upper wing surfaces.

U.S.A. - 1918 Nieuport 28 part 3

Three Colorful Nieuports

One of the thing which attracted me to World War One aircraft is the flamboyant color schemes used to identify who was piloting the plane. personal heraldry wass more important than stealth during this period. When America officially entered the war the pilots serving in the American Expeditionary Force many adopted the custom of personalizing their planes. Here are a few of the new examples I have recently finished.

Douglas Campbell 94th Aero Squadron 1918

Nieuport 28 Douglas Campbell 94th Aero Squadron sn N6164
Nieuport 28 Douglas Campbell 94th Aero Squadron sn N6164

Douglas adopted a black star pattern on a red cowling as his personal markings. The wheel covers are a blue variant which was popular with other pilots in the squadron. He did not have roundels painted on the underside of the top wing. The white identifier numbers do not have borders. The small black numbers on the rudder are the serial number.

1st Lt. William F. Loomis 94th Aero Squadron 1918

Nieuport 28 1st Lt. William F. Loomis 94th Aero Squadron sn N6181
Nieuport 28 1st Lt. William F. Loomis 94th Aero Squadron sn N6181

WIliam Loomis chose a red and white candy stripe pattern on his cowling. The numbers are a bordered block style popular with many of the American squadrons. The rest of the paint scheme is fairly standard.The serial numbers on the rudder are painted over

Training aircraft used by the United States and Great Britain were often painted in bright colors and patterns. This aircraft flew in France in 1918. The red white and blue paint scheme is based off the American flag. The rudder color scheme is more like the version used in France.The Indian head unit insignia differs from the ones used by the 103rd Aero Squadron. The black block style numbers are identify that particular plane.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Belgium - 1917 Hanriot HD.1 Aces

Diary of a Waterlogged Workaholic

I have been busy as always. Running a one man dog and pony show keeps me on my toes. There always seems to be a new profile I want to do, or a new sections of my site to lay out. A new section will cover an organizational view of aircraft units. I have the groundwork laid out for the German Jagdgeschwader and Jasta forming them, and the American Pursuit Groups and their Aero Squadrons. That subsection will take a while to get right.

Yesterday I addressed the problem of gallery pages which have grown too large to load quickly and needed to be divided into additional gallery pages dedicated to a single aircraft type. I have not done a recent profile count but I think I have broken the 1000 mark.

Today I was out and about taking care of pressing matters which could not wait for a day without pouring rain. It was good to get back to the studio where it was warm, dry, and I could get a warm cuppa into my shivering hands. after lunch I worked up several SPAD S.XIII, some Nieuport 28's and finished the master for a new Nieuport 11. I took a break and completed 3 new Hanriot HD.1's which I decided to share.

Three Belgian Aces

Belgium fought valiantly in the First World War. In spite of German forces dug into Belgian soil the Belgian Air Force waged a successful air campaign using French and British aircraft. One of the favorite planes used by the Belgians was an aircraft shunned by France as being obsolete. The Hanriot HD.1 found great favor with the Belgian pilots, some scored the majority of their victories at the controls of the HD.1.

Coppens joined the army in 1912, serving with the 2nd Grenadiers before transferring to the Compagnie des Aviateurs in 1914. At his own expense, he and thirty nine other Belgians enrolled in a civilian flying school at Hendon, England. After additional training in France, Coppens began flying two-seaters in combat during 1916.

The following year, he was assigned to single-seat fighters and soon became an expert at shooting down enemy observation balloons. After downing a balloon, Coppens would often perform aerial acrobatic displays above the enemy. On one occasion, the balloon he was attacking shot upward and Coppens actually landed his Hanriot HD.1 on top of it. Switching off his engine to protect the propeller, he waited until his aircraft slid off the top of the balloon, then restarted the engine and watched as the German balloon burst into flames and sank to the ground.

On the morning of October 14, 1918, his days as a fighting pilot came to an end near Thourout in northwestern Belgium. Just as he began the attack that would culminate in his 37th victory, Coppens was hit in the left leg by an incendiary bullet. Despite a severed artery and intense pain, he shot down his target and managed to crash land within the safety of his own lines. His badly shattered leg had to be amputated. Before he retired from the army in 1940, Coppens served as a military attaché in France, Great Britain, Italy and Switzerland.

Andre de Meulemeester dubbed "The Eagle of Flanders" joined the Belgian Air Service on January 26, 1915 and was assigned to 1ère Escadrille de Chasse on April 8, 1917. While flying a Nieuport 17, de Meulemeester scored six victories before his unit was re-equipped with the Hanriot HD.1. In the spring of 1918, he was joined 9me, scoring four more victories by the end of the war. During 511 sorties, de Meulemeester engaged the enemy in aerial combat 185 times, was wounded in action twice and was attacked by British D.H.4s on two occasions. In 1919, de Meulemeester left the army, gave up flying and went to work in his family's brewery business.

Olieslagers fascination with racing motorcycles led to a world championship in 1902. He was the first man to reach a speed of 100 km/h on a motorcycle. As his interest shifted to aircraft, he purchased a plane in 1909 and within four years, he had set seven world records. When the Germans invaded Belgium, he and his two brothers joined the army and donated their three Blériot XI monoplanes to the war effort.

In his first combat, Olieslagers attacked an enemy aircraft armed only with a pistol. Throughout the war, he rarely claim the enemy aircraft he destroyed. Despite his six confirmed victories, Olieslagers flew 491 sorties and had engaged in 97 dogfights. Returning to Antwerp at the end of the war, Olieslagers was responsible for the development of the Antwerp Airport in 1923.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

United States - 1918 SPAD X.III 93rd Aero Squadron

Digging for Some Understanding

Researching history is a puzzle at times. You dig through articles, pour over photos and in the end you still have deep questions which make you wonder if you will ever have all the pieces to see a clear view of your subject. This has been the case with attempting to find enough information to bring to life an aircraft I have only seen in two pictures. When I was working on fantasy and science fiction subjects I was free to improvise to a certain amount. I was helping define what someone would see in their mind's eye. History is a harsher mistress. There is a certain amount of conjecture, however it has to be grounded in research of facts about your subject.

I want to take a moment to thank Gene Beals for his hard work building great site on the 93rd Aero Squadron It is well worth a visit.

My current cause of befuddlement started when I began research for information on the Pursuit Groups serving in the American Expeditionary Force in France. Many times I feel like it is the first day in school and I forgot my books. Slowly you pick through sources looking for elusive pieces to the puzzle. On a good day you have enough information to at least begin laying out the outline. For every hour of drawing time there is at least two hours of research. People tell me doing profiles if difficult. For me it is a relief from all the hours of studying records.

Today's puzzle began with making the initial drawing of a unit insignia to add to my "Decal" archive. I worked up two versions until I liked the results. The only problem was I did not have a source to show me any of the aircraft that carried the insignia. It was time to get my data shovel and dig around some more.

Sometimes You Have to Just Make a Best Guess

Drawing of 93rd Aero Squadron Insignia.
Conceptual Drawing for the 93rd Aero Squadron's Insignia

This is the second version of the initial drawings I made for my insignia archives. I am a firm believer in working it to completion and saving it in a form where I can copy and paste it into other profiles. I see no sense in reinventing the wheel. For me the final process of making profiles is more akin to building a model kit than drawing.

The profiles are highly conjectural. The photos I have seen do not show all the details and the colors are best guess based on standard practices and comparing gray tones with known colored areas. The insignia on some examples may be a little too ornate, but I can correct that in later versions. For now I am just happy to make a first attempt at a subject I have not seen many color profiles for this squadron. If anyone has information to make it more accurate please contact me. I have the names and serial numbers for all three flight for the squadron. My main problem is I am lacking details to fill the ranks with profiles for this squadron.


  1. 93rd Aero Squadron - World War I Retrieved Oct 24, 2011 01:25 from

Saturday, October 22, 2011

United States - 1918 Nieuport 28 C1

The Four American Nieuport 28 Squadrons

I took a break from the Morane-Saulniers and tackled a much needed master file for the Nieuport 28 C1. Once it was finished I was able to work up a dozen aircraft. My next step is to finish off the remainder of the examples I have found to round things out.

The Nieuport 28 was assigned to four American Aero Squadrons. The largest number were given to the 94th Aero Squadron. Structural problems with the upper wing made American pilots wary of flying the aircraft as aggressively as they wanted. The Nieuport 28 were soon replaced by the SPAD C1 S.XIII which served the Americans well.

27th Aero Squadron USAS

Nieuport 28 27th Aero Squadron  - 1918
Nieuport 28 - 1918

This example served with the 27th Aero Squadron. The fuselage is painted in the French factory camouflage pattern. The swooping Eagle is the unit insignia. The standard American scheme for placement of national markings was no roundels on the fuselage and a six roundel format. The top wing has roundels on both the top and bottom surfaces, and the lower has roundels on the lower surface only.

94th Aero Squadron USAS

Nieuport 28 94th Aero Squadron - 1918
Nieuport 28 - 1918

This Nieuport was flown by Lt. James.Meissner while serving with the 94th "Hat and Ring" Squadron. The cowling is painted in a scheme designed by the pilot. The color and type of numbers varied. In this case the numbers are black without a border.

95th Pursuit Squadron USAS

Nieuport 28 95th Pursuit Squadron - 1918
Nieuport 28 - 1918

The paint scheme for this Nieuport is a bit flashier than some examples. The red and yellow spiral design on the cowling makes for a striking appearance. The kicking mule insignia for the 95th Pursuit Squadron is shown as white on some profiles and blue on others.

The basic paint scheme for this Nieuport 28 is a fairly standard French pattern. The Terrier insignia for the 147th Aero Squadron is a whimsical touch. The numbers are the block bordered style numbers were used by many squadrons.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Russia - 1915 Morane-Saulnier Type N

Three Russian Bullets

After my last round of churning out Morane-Saulnier Type N profiles I am close to exhausting my archive material tor this aircraft type. I moved onto getting masters for the Type G, H, P and L completed to help fill in the gaps. Here are a few of the current crop of Type N profiles I have made this week.

This example was flown by N Konstantin Vakulovsky when assigned to the 1st Fighter Detachment The aircraft has the iconic red forward section and the Russian version of the tri-color rudder with serial numbers. The wing carries roundels on the top and bottom surfaces.

This example has early style skis mounted instead of wheels for operation during the winter and the muddy conditions found in Russia during th spring and autumn seasons. The black and white fuselage has a variation on the penant style national markings. The rudder does not carry serial numbers because the roundel is painted over varnished fabric.

This example lacks both the propeller spinner and wheel covers. The black rudder has the skull and cross bones used by the famous 19th Fighter Detachment usually written as XIX Detachment which was known as the "Death or Glory" Squadron. The metal pieces attached to the propeller are known as deflector gear, which were first used by the French ace Lieutenant Roland Garros. Since Russia did not have the interrupter gear the only solution for firing forward was to use metal guards which deflect rounds which would have hit the prop.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

France - 1915 Morane-Saulnier Type N

Three French Bullets

I had got sick of looking at the generic profiles I had posted back in the Dark Ages and thought it was time to freshen up the gallery collection. After my crash I have had to go back to basics and reinvent the wheel. Although at the time it was a serious loss, much good has come from it. Being more obsessive about including small details like lacing and turnbuckles on the wires helps make for a better drawing. Over the past two days I have been on a roll. After about eight hours of research I sat down and made fourteen examples of the Morane-Saulnier Type N. So far the largest group has been Russian versions, although I have worked up a fair number of British birds.

This example was flown by Jean Chaput while serving with the 159th Escadrille. It has a fuselage stripe flash which is not seen on many examples. most had plain varnished fabric covering the fuselage, wing and tail plane. The black forward section shows wear which is perhaps due to deflected rounds. The wing has roundels on both the top and bottom surface. The identification markings have been painted over.

I a not sure who was the pilot or the unit of this example. However I do know the serial number. The paint scheme is what most think of when the Morane-Saulnier Type N is discussed. However the tri-color marking on the fuselage does make it worth drawing. As was standard practice the wing carried roundels on both the top and bottom surface. I painted this bird in pristine condition although the wear on the forward section seems to be a common feature.

Some of the Type N were finished in a mixture of aluminum powder and varnish giving them a silvery finish. Tee forward section was painted red and rudder has a more complete set of identification markings. The source I had showed natural wood landing struts and the frame for the wires used for the wing warping system.

Due to the shape of its nose, the Morane-Saulnier Type N was aptly nicknamed the “Bullet”. Only 49 Type N were built. The was the first French aircraft specifically developed as a fighter. Armed with a fixed, forward firing machine gun, its propeller was protected by the metal deflector plates pioneered by Roland Garros on the Morane-Saulnier Type L. Although it was faster and more maneuverable than previous aircraft, the Bullet was extremely difficult to fly and unpopular with pilots. A fair number of then were saw combat in both the British and Russian air services.


  1. From Wikipedia Morane-Saulnier N, ""
  2. Bruce, J.M. "War Planes of the First World War: Fighters: Volume Five". London:Macdonald, 1972, p.86. ISBN 356 0779 7.
  3. Bruce, J.M. "The Bullets and the Guns". Air Enthusiast. Issue Nine, February-May 1979. Bromley, Kent: Pilot Press, 1979. Pages 61-75.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Morane-Saulnier A1 part 2

Morane-Saulnier A1 in Other Countries.

Here are a couple more Morane-Saulnier A.1 monoplanes. I wish I could find more examples to give a wider view of this plane. My Morane-Saulnier mania has moved on to the Type N "Bullet". I have finished my new master file and added a lot more detail than in the old lost version. My next post will share some of the new crop of illustrations I finished today.

This is one of three Morane-Saulnier A.1 which were given to the Belgian Air Force by France. The paint scheme is the standard five color French pattern. As with French aircraft there are no fuselage roundels. The wing had roundels top and bottom surfaces. The white thistle flower is a unit marking. The Morane-Saulnier logo was moved from the cowling to the tail fin. The identification markings on the rudder are in white.

In 1921 France sent several A.1 to Poland to help fill the ranks of the fledgling Polish Air Force. I have seen other profiles but the only one I have found which is verified is this example. Nearly the entire aircraft is painted in a uniform olive drab with silver or gray under surfaces. Once again national insignias are displayed on both the top and lower wing surfaces. The markings are a simple version of the tail insignia except there is no border on them. The white 21 is an aircraft identifier and not a unit designator. The Morane-Saulnier logo has been over-painted.

Monday, October 17, 2011

France - 1917 Morane-Saulnier A.1

Three French Morane-Saulnier Type A.1 Parasols

Sometimes you see an airplane that just looks "right", and the Morane-Saulnier Type A.1 is one of them. Sleek, and elegant lines make it pleasing to the eye. The prospect of bringing them to life had me impatient to get going on the project. I have had the new master file for this plane finished for a week or so before I found enough reference material for a good start. It seems that for the number built there is precious little reference material out there. Today I chose to post some of the Morane-Saulnier Type A.1 flown by French units. I will be posting examples for Belgium and Poland soon.

This example of the twin gun version is painted in a five color camouflage varient. The red devil flying on a broom is the unit insignia for .Escadrille 160. The lacing which is used to stitch together the fabric sections are visible. The wing has roundels on both top and bottom surfaces. The top wing surface has a five color scheme and thee under side is painted gray, as is the lower fuselage.

This is a single machine gun model sporting a common French five color pattern. The unit insignia for Escadrille MSP 156 is a pair of blue swallows on a deep yellow parallelogram. The white circular marking on the cowling is the logo for Morane-Saulnier. THe wings conform to the standard French camouflage scheme. The bright blue wheel covers are a nice touch.

This is another twin machine gun model with the standard French paint scheme. It has the black silhouette of an eagle grasping a snake in it's beak. This is the unit insignia for Escadrille MSP 158. The wheel covers are painted blue-gray.

The Morane-Saulnier Type AI was a French parasol-wing fighter aircraft produced by Morane-Saulnier during World War I, to replace the obsolete Morane-Saulnier Type N. Its engine was mounted in a circular open-front cowling. The parasol wing was swept back. The spars and ribs of the circular section fuselage were wood, wire-braced and covered in fabric. The production aircraft were given service designations based on whether they had 1 gun (designated MoS 27) or 2 guns (designated MoS 29).

For a World War One aircraft, the Morane-Saulnier A-1 had very modern lines and was very streamlined. Even though 1,210 were produced, and a number of escadrilles were created to operated the Type A1, it never made a big impact at the front. Shortly after entering service, most of the aircraft were replaced by the SPAD XIII. By mid-May 1918 it was withdrawn to serve as an advanced trainer, designated MoS 30. The reason for withdrawl was a suspicion of structural weakness.

Fifty-one MoS 30s were purchased by the American Expeditionary Force as pursuit trainers. Many Type A1s were used by the Belgian air corps


  1. Donald, David, ed (1997)."The Encyclopedia of World Aircraft". Prospero Books. pp. pg 659. ISBN 1-85605-375-X.
  2. Holmes, Tony (2005). "Jane's Vintage Aircraft Recognition Guide". London: Harper Collins. pp. 36. ISBN 0 0071 9292 4.
  3. Lamberton, W.M. (1960). "Fighter Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War". Herts: Harleyford Publications Ltd.. pp. 84-85.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Belgium Italy - 1916 Hanriot HD-1

Belgian and Italian Hanriot HD-1

I made a new master file for the Hanriot HD-1 this week. While I had it opened I decided it was time to work up some new profiles. I had previously posted on the Hanriot HD-1 in Italy - 1916 Hanriot HD.1 and again in Painted Warbirds 1915-1918. Those examples were done using my old and now lost master file. I have reference for round 25 more Hanriot so more to come soon. Since the aircraft was mainly used by Belgium and Italy it gives me an opportunity to fill the ranks of their gallery pages.

This aircraft type was first designed in France. The French considered it to be inferior to the newly designed SPAD VII and exported the aircraft to countries including Belgium and Italy. Both of those nations loved the design and had great success flying them in combat. Due to occupation by German forces Belgium had to rely on French manufactures to provide their needs. Italy was so impressed they sought a license for Macchi to produce this fighter in large quantities. The design was much loved by Italian pilots who preferred the agile HD-1 over the fighters produced by SPAD.

This example was one of many aircraft types flown by the famed Belgian pilot Willy Coppens. The basic scheme is a French five color camouflage pattern.The white thistle flower is the insignia of the 1st Escadrille de Chasse. The green and white decorative markings on the cowling, rudder and wheel covers make the aircraft a fun project to do.

This aircraft is painted in the five color French camouflage pattern.The white stylized oragami bird on the fuselage is the insignia of the 11th Escadrille de Chasse. The markings for aircraft and serial number are white on the black, yellow and red rudder.

The Italian aircraft company Macchi was licensed to produce their own version of the Hanriot HD-1. This example has a bare metal forward section and the rear section is finished in yellow varnish. The scheme featured black stripes and a circular black insignia with a question mark in white. Italy was not consistent in how their roundels were painted. In this example it is painted (outer to inner circle) green, white red.

The paint scheme on this Macchi built HD-1 consists of a green and brown two color scheme painted over with white stripes. In this example the roundel is painted (outer to inner circle) red, white green. The identification markings on the rudder are absent.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

France - 1916 SPAD VII


I have recently started my new series of SPAD VII using my new master file. The SPAD VII was used by many countries and produced under license in Britain, Italy, and Russia. The SPAD VII was designed as a replacement of the aging Nieuport 17. Here is a sampling of my latest profiles.

This French SPAD sports an unusual paint scheme in that it is not the simple yellow varnish or a multiple color camouflage scheme. The black elephant was the Lt. Frederic Loiseau's personal insignia. As with almost all French aircraft it does not carry a roundel.

The Italians mainly used a simple paint scheme with national roundels and the pilot's personel insignia. The identification numbers on the rudder were painted over.

This British SPAD is the standard yellow varnish and a darker paint on the forward section. The fuselage bears the British Roundel as was standard practice. The red stripe and black C were probably flight markings. The red wheel covers are unusual. The serial numbers are painted in black on the tail fin and identification markings on the rudder are painted over.

The 103rd Aero Squadron was composed of pilots who served in the French Escadrille SPA 124 (Lafayette Escadrille). Unlike many American piloted SPAD VII which kept the yellow varnish finish which came from the factory, this example is painted in a five color camouflage pattern. The Indian head is the unit insignia and the red diamond with the white S is the pilots' personal marking.

Russia used both SPAD aircraft produced in France and under license in the DUX factory, The paint is simple and the only markings are the Russian roundel and serial number on the rudder.

Spad VII: Overview

The French Air Service replaced the Nieuport 17 with the SPAD S.VII. Although disadvantaged by poor forward and downward visibility from the cockpit, the SPAD S.VII was fast, durable and difficult to shoot down. It was a good performer, flown by nearly all the French aces. However it proved to be less successful in the hands of British, possibly due to the combat tactics employed by the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps. With 18 victories, Irish ace William Cochran-Patrick scored more victories with the SPAD S.VII and SPAD S.XIII than any other ace.


  1. From Wikipedia SPAD S.VII, ""
  2. Bordes, Gerard. "SPAD." Mach 1, L'encyclopédie de l'Aviation, Volume 8. Paris: Atlas, 1981, pp. 2173-2187.
  3. Bruce, J.M. "The First Fighting SPADs". Air Enthusiast, Issue 26, April - July 1981. Bromley, Kent: Pilot Press, p. 59, p. 61-62. ISSN 0143-5450.
  4. Connors, John F., Don Greer and Perry Manley. "SPAD Fighters in Action" (Aircraft in Action No. 93). Carrollton, Texas: Squadron-Signal Publications, 1989. ISBN 0-89747-217-9.
  5. Crosby, Francis. "A Handbook of Fighter Aircraft". London: Hermes House, 2003. ISBN 1-84309-444-4.
  6. Sharpe, Michael. "Biplanes, Triplanes, and Seaplanes". London: Friedman/Fairfax Books, 2000, p. 270. ISBN 1-58663-300-7.
  7. "United States Air Force Museum Guidebook". Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio: Air Force Museum Foundation, 1975, p. 9.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

United States - 1918 SPAD S.XIII

The SPAD S.XIII In American Service.

Before the United States declared war in 1918, Americans had served unofficially in both French and British service. When America entered the war the pilots who had been in combat helped create a capable fighting force. Although these pilots flew many types of planes, most of them had flown the SPAD S.XIII. When they were inducted into the United States Air Service they took their aircraft to use in A.E.F.C. Aero Squadrons.

This is a fairly representative example of a SPAD serving in the 22 Aero Squadron. It is painted in a fairy standard 5 color scheme. The insignia is the iconic shooting stars design. The nose color varied according to the pilot's preference. Most examples have red block style numbers bordered in white.

The swooping eagle identifies the SPAD XIII as plane flown by the 27th Aero Squadron. Most examples have black block style numbers bordered in white. The camouflage is a variant of the 5 color scheme. The black and white checkered nose and red white and blue stripe is unusual. The wheel cover is seen on several different aircraft.

When America entered the war most American aviators served in the the French Escadrille SPA 124 also known as the Lafayette Escadrille. They were reassigned into the 103rd Aero Squadron. The unit insignia of an Indian in a head dress became the official insignia of the 103rd. The unit used the number forms favored by the French and not the new block style used by many U.S.A.S. Aero Squadrons. The circle Tee is most likely a pilot's personal marking. As usual the 5 color scheme is used and the nose is not given an accent color.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

France - 1917 SPAD XIII Aces

Three Aces

I am still busy working on filling the ranks in my profile collection for the SPAD S.XII C-1. Today's offering is a trio of SPAD XIII flown by the top three French Aces of The Great War. They offer a studry of contrasts. Their differences in temperment and life experience could not be greater. However they did share one common trait, each was a superb pilot and deadly marksman.

René Paul Fonck March 27, 1894 - June 1953

SPAD S-XIII 1917 René Paul Fonck Spa103 75 Victories

René Paul Fonck was the highest scoring ace for France and the Allies. As a boy growing up in the foothills of the Vosges, he was fascinated by stories of men and their flying machines. Yet when he was conscripted in August of 1914, he refused to serve in the French Air Service, choosing instead to go to the trenches. By early 1915, he had changed his mind and began his flight training in a Penguin at Saint-Cyr. Displaying an inherent talent for flying, he was soon serving with Escadrille C47, flying an unarmed Caudron on reconnaissance missions over the lines.

In April of 1917, after more than 500 hours of flight time, Fonck was assigned to Spa103. Flying the SPAD S.VII, he developed a reputation for studying the tactics of his opponents and conserving ammunition during a dogfight. On two separate occasions, he shot down six enemy aircraft in one day.

As his fame grew, so did his ego and Fonck never achieved the admiration and popularity of Georges Guynemer. Even French ace Claude Haegelen, one of Fonck's few friends, felt he boasted too much and too often; but no one could deny that Fonck was an excellent pilot and superb marksman.

Georges Marie Ludovic Jules Guynemer December 24, 1894 - September 11, 1917

Georges Guynemer was France's most popular ace. He entered the French Air Service in November of 1914 and served as a mechanic before receiving a Pilot's Brevet in April of 1915. Despite his frail physical appearance, he took part in more than 600 aerial combats and was shot down seven times and survived. An excellent marksman and highly skilled pilot, he was hailed as the French Ace of Aces. Guynemer received letters from women proposing marriage, requests from school children for his autograph and was often followed through the streets.

One of the first pilots to receive a SPAD S.VII, he called his plane Vieux Charles (Old Charles). On May 25, 1917, he engaged and shot down four enemy aircraft with Old Charles in one day. Looking for ways to improve the performance of his aircraft, Guynemer armed a SPAD S.VII with a single-shot 37 mm canon that fired through a hollowed out propeller shaft. He called this impractical aircraft his Magic Machine. Despite the fumes that filled the cockpit and the recoil of the canon, during the summer of 1917 he shot down at least two enemy aircraft with his Magic Machine.

On September 11, 1917, Guynemer was last seen attacking a two-seater Aviatik near Poelcapelle, northwest of Ypres. Almost a week later, it was publicly announced in a London paper that he was missing in action. Shortly thereafter, a German newspaper reported Guynemer had been shot down by Kurt Wissemann of Jasta 3. For many months, the French population refused to believe he was dead. Guynemer's body was never found.

Charles Eugene Jules Marie Nungesser March 15, 1892 - May 8, 1927

Charles Nungesser was a French ace pilot and adventurer, best remembered as a rival of Charles Lindbergh. Nungesser was a renowned ace in France, rating third highest in the country for air combat victories during World War I.

Charles Nungesser was born on 15 March 1892 in Paris, and as a child was very interested in competitive sports. After attending the École des Arts et Métiers, where he was a mediocre student who nonetheless excelled in sports such as boxing, he went to South America; first to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to search for an uncle who could not be located and then onto Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he worked as an auto mechanic before becoming a professional racer. His interest in racing soon led him to flying airplanes; Nungesser learned to fly by using a Bleriot plane owned by a friend. After he eventually found his missing uncle, he worked on his sugar plantation in the Buenos Aires province.

When World War I broke out, Nungesser returned to France where he enlisted with the 2e Régiment de Hussards. During one patrol, he and several soldiers commandeered a German Mors patrol car after killing its occupants. This impressed his superiors, and he was subsequently awarded the Medaille Militaire and granted his request to be transferred to the Service Aéronautique.

As a military pilot, he was transferred to Escadrille VB106. While there, in July 1915 he shot down his first plane, a German Albatros and was awarded the Croix de Guerre. This action initiated the Nungesser legend. On 31 July 1915, Nungesser and his mechanic Roger Pochon were on standby duty. The two took off in a Voisin 3LAS despite Nungesser's assignment to non-flying duties. In an encounter with five Albatros two-seaters, the French duo shot one down near Nancy, France. Returning to their airfield, Nungesser was placed under house arrest for eight days for his insubordination. He was then decorated and forwarded to training in Nieuport fighters.

By the time Nungesser left VB106, he had flown 53 bombing missions. He had also emblazoned at least one of the escadrille's planes with his elaborate gruesome personal insignia: the freebooter's skull and crossbones and a coffin with two candles.

After retraining, in November 1915 he was transferred to Escadrille N.65 (the 65th Squadron) and was later attached to the famous Lafayette Escadrille, composed of American volunteers. While visiting the Escadrille on one of his convalescent periods recuperating from his wounds, he borrowed a plane and shot down another German while he was there. By the end of 1916, he had claimed 21 air kills.

Despite being a decorated pilot, Nungesser was placed under house arrest on more than one occasion for flying without permission. He disliked strict military discipline and went to Paris to enjoy its many pleasures (such as alcohol and women) as often as possible. He was a leading fighter pilot, whose combat exploits against the Germans were widely publicized in France. Nungesser's rugged good looks, flamboyant personality, and appetite for danger, beautiful women, wine and fast cars made him the embodiment of the stereotypical flying ace. In contrast to the unsociable but nonetheless top French ace René Fonck, Nungesser was well liked by his comrades. Yet Nungesser suffered a very bad crash on 6 February 1916 that broke both his legs, and he would be injured again many times. He was often so hobbled by wounds and injuries that he had to be helped into his cockpit.

Notwithstanding these early setbacks, Nungesser became an ace in April 1916. He was wounded on 19 May 1916 but continued to score and would be wounded again in June. Nevertheless, he finished the year with 21 victories. It was during this time he downed two German aces, Hans Schilling on 4 December, and Kurt Haber on the 20th. The Nieuport Ni 17 "The Knight of Death" flown by C. Nungesser

His silver Nieuport 17 plane was decorated with a black heart-shaped field, a macabre Jolly Roger, and a coffin and candles painted inside. He had adopted the title "The Knight of Death," paraphrasing the French word mort "death", a play on words for the German Mors vehicle, like the one he had earlier captured while as a cavalryman.

In early 1917, Nungesser had to return to hospital for treatment of injuries but managed to avoid being grounded. He had pushed his score to 30 by 17 August 1917, when he downed his second Gotha bomber. Injuries from a car crash in December got him a month's respite as an instructor before he returned to flying combat with Escadrille 65. He still flew a Nieuport, even though the squadron had re-equipped with Spads. By May 1918, he had 35 victories, including a shared victory each with Jacques Gérard and Eugéne Camplan, and was raised to Officer of the Legion d'Honneur.

By August 1918, he finally made a radical upgrade to the most recent Spad, the Spad XIII, and began to win again. On 14 August, he shot down four observation balloons for wins 39 through 42. The following day, he shared a win with Marcel Henriot and another pilot and finished the war with 43 official victories.

In his flying career, Nungesser received dozens of military decorations from France, Belgium, Montenegro, United States of America, Portugal, Russia, and Serbia.

By the end of the war, a succinct summary of Nungesser's wounds and injuries read: "Skull fracture, brain concussion, internal injuries (multiple), five fractures of the upper jaw, two fractures of lower jaw, piece of anti-aircraft shrapnel imbedded [sic] in right arm, dislocation of knees (left and right), re-dislocation of left knee, bullet wound in mouth, bullet wound in ear, atrophy of tendons in left leg, atrophy of muscles in calf, dislocated clavicle, dislocated wrist, dislocated right ankle, loss of teeth, contusions too numerous to mention."

Thursday, October 6, 2011

France - 1917 SPAD S-XIII part 2

Life as a Busy Bee

Once again I am on a roll. Today I have been busy working on SPAD profiles. I finished 6 profiles and have been working on drawing up insignias and ID numbers for the next batch in the works. During breaks from drawing I have been fleshing out new sections and tweaking navigation on my site. I wish I had a clone or two but they would be just as stubborn as I am so ordering them around would be like herding cats.

This is another new profile of a SPAD flown by the famed balloon buster Second Ltn. Frank Luke Jr. The eagle insignia was used by the 27th Aero Squadron. The side access panel is removed. The camouflage is another variation of the basic five color scheme.

This is the new profile of the SPAD X.III flown by Captain Eddie Richenbacker. The white circles are patched bullet holes. Prominent is the hat and ring insignia of the 94 Aero Squadron which was one of the original American units serving in France. It would become part of the 1st pursuit Group.

This SPAD was flown by Robert Soubrian 103rd Fighter Squadron AEFC USAS. It is painted in a five color paint job and bears a variant of the Lafayette Escadrille SPA 124 insignia featuring an Indian wearing an ornate head dress which was adopted as the 103rd's unit marking. The red white and blue diagonal stripe bears the colors shard by the French, Americans and the British allies. The rudder has many markings including one which reads SPAD Hispano-Suiza.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

France - 1917 SPAD S.XIII C1

Rebuilding an Archive.

First off I apologize for not posting or commenting on the blogs I read. I have not forgotten you all, I have been forced to deal with medical and financial issues which reared their heads. My time has been taken up with seeking donations to keep the lights on, hosting fees paid, food on the table, and have the ability to continue creating reference sources which help others learn about History. Fighting a series of personal fires which needed to be put. The struggle has not been completely successful. The frustration left me drained and in need of a strategic retreat.

As I have posted recently I had a serious hardware malfunction and lost over a year's work. Slowly I am doing a new library of master drawings which I can use to create finished profiles. One of my newest was a new master for the SPAD S.XIII C1. I was never satisfied with my old master so it gave me a compelling reason to bring it up to a new standard that I can live with. While trying to figure out what I have and have not posted on this blog I discovered I had neglected one of the more important aircraft of WWI. I figure I can show my old profiles and the new ones to correct this omission and show the process of revision and refinement which goes with the territory.

I may be jumping the gun but I wanted to post this as a comparison between the old and new.This profile of the iconic SPAD XIII flown by Rickenbacker during the late war was done from my old master file. I went too heavy on the lines and it calls out for a new reworked version which I will do soon and post here.

This is one of the new series of profiles using my new master. I liked the colors and how the color scheme harkens back to the simple varnished surfaces used on many of the SPAD VII flown in 1916. Like many SPAD XIII the side access covers are removed to improve airflow. The source I used did not show the iconic large drum ammunition magazines which fed the machine guns.

This is another example of the new master file. Working up Lulu was fun. Working with one variant of french camouflage and the side markings was pleasing to the eye. This example has the standard louvered side access panels. When drawing French aircraft you have to learn to love making louvers. They take time to do properly but the end result either makes or breaks a drawing. I find making a single master louver, shading it and adding shadows, then duplicating and aligning them into a single layer makes it a manageable task. Then it is a matter of using them as a luminance layer drops them into the drawing fairly seamlessly.

SPAD S.XIII C1: Overview

Equipped with twin machine guns and a larger engine, the SPAD S.XIII was based upon the smaller SPAD S.VII. Built in large numbers, it was fast and powerful but difficult to fly. The SPAD S.XIII was flown by many of the famous aces including Georges Guynemer, Rene Fonck, and also by Italian ace Francesco Baracca. Aces of the United States Army Air Service who flew the Spad XIII include and Eddie Rickenbacker, (America's leading ace with 26 confirmed victories) and Frank Luke (18 victories). Irish ace William Cochran-Patrick scored more victories with the SPAD S.VII and SPAD S.XIII than any other ace.

The SPAD S.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 S.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.

The S.VII had entered service in September of 1916, but by early 1917 it had been surpassed by the latest German fighters, leading French flying ace, Georges Guynemer to lobby for an improved version. SPAD designer Louis Béchereau initially produced the cannon-armed S.XII, which had limited success, and finally the S.XIII.

The S.XIII differed from its predecessor by incorporating a number of aerodynamic and other refinements, including larger wings and rudder, a more powerful Hispano-Suiza 8B engine fitted with reduction gearing, driving a larger "right-hand" propeller, and a second 0.303 Vickers machine gun for added firepower. The sum of these improvements was a notable improvement in flight and combat performance. It was faster than its main contemporaries, the British Sopwith Camel and the German Fokker D.VII, and was renowned for its ruggedness and strength in a dive. The maneuverability of the type was however relatively poor, especially at low speeds. A steep gliding angle and a very sharp stall made it a difficult aircraft for novice pilots to land safely.

It first flew on April 4, 1917, and the following month was already being delivered to the French Air Service. Other Allied forces were quick to adopt the new fighter as well, and nearly half of the 893 purchased for the United States Army Air Service were still in service in 1920. It was also exported to Japan, Poland, and Czechoslovakia after the war.


  1. From Wikipedia SPAD S-XIII, ""
  2. Sharpe, Michael (2000). "Biplanes, Triplanes, and Seaplanes". London: Friedman/Fairfax Books, p 272. ISBN 1-58663-300-7.
  3. Bruce, J.M. (1982). "The Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps" (Military Wing). London: Putnam, pp. 561-564. ISBN 0 370 30084 x.
  4. Winchester, Jim (2006). "Fighter - The World's Finest Combat Aircraft - 1913 to the Present Day". Barnes & Noble Publishing, Inc. and Parragon Publishing, p.18, p. 23. ISBN 0-7607-7957-0.