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, "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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.


Jon Yuengling said...

I am glad to see you are back. Hope things are on a more even keel.

Unknown said...

Thanks Jon. There as a third reason for lack of posts. I had to figure out what I have or have not posted here. After 195 posts, being close to the 1000 profile mark and juggling several sites I had a senior moment.