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Spin 1/48 Resin SPAD A.2 & A.4

By Bob Pearson




'Necessity is the mother of Invention', so goes the old saying. Add to that the impetus on design that wartime necessisty brings and you have some of the most brilliant inventions of the last 100 years. However for every excellent design there are those that should never have left the drawing board. Such is the first of the SPAD fighters - the SPAD A.2 and the 'improved' A.4.

The need was for a forward firing gun that could fire straight ahead, but that would not hit the propellor. The solution was to take three basic strategies: affix the gun to the upper wing of a tractor biplane as on the Nieuport 11; develop a means to fire through the propellor as on the Fokker Eindecker (and most subsequent designs); the third method was to utilize the pusher design in which the engine was behind the pilot in a small nacelle and the tail was carried by a pair of booms. The SPAD A.2/4 was none of the above. It placed a nacelle AHEAD of the engine and put a gunner in this very perilous location. The nacelle was hinged to the front of the undercarriage and attached to the upperwing with a pair of fasteners. The British developed a similar design in the RAF BE9, nicknamed 'the Pulpit'. However, unlike the BE9, the SPAD A.2/4 actually entered service and was flown in combat by the French and Russian Air Services.

It must be mentioned that the excellent SPAD VII was developed from the SPAD A.2/4 .. so all was not a complete loss.

The Kits


Recently released by Spin Models, the SPAD A.2 and the SPAD A.4 share many of the same components but have different wings, armament and decals as appropriate to each variant. The A.2 has a shorter, two piece upperwing (molded in one piece), while the A.4 has a longer, three-piece wing. Skis and wheels are included for the A.4

Both kits are molded in a light yellow resin and also contain an extensive photo-etch fret. The resin is very nicely cast with the fuselage halves exhibiting fine stringer detail. The wings are extremely thin and have very fine trailing edges. The two kits have very few air bubbles that are easily dealt with using filler.

Other resin parts include nacelle halves; engine; struts; Lewis or Madsen machine gun; wheels and/or ski undercarriage; control panel; floor; seat.

A PE fret is included which contains: firewall; screen to prevent the gunner coming into contact with the propellor; screens for the nacelle; seatbelts; fairing. Both PE samples are coated in some grey material, whether it is a result of the etching process or it serves some other purpose I know not. This gives it the feel of masonry and will need to be dealt with in one way or another. Hopefully a wash in lacquer thinner will help.

Decals (printed by MPD) for both kits are familar to those who have the FMP French or Russian books. The SPAD A.2 is S.19 "Ma Jeaane" (which was also the subject of my first article for OTF), while the A.4 is the ski--equipped S.79, or the wheeled S.54. Both are from the Russian Air Service.

Instructions for both contain exploded views of the entire kit, as well as the interior. there are also basic drawings showing markings placement.


For a relatively little-used design, there are other interesting options for the two kits. One I will have to do on an ALPS is the A.2 from the XIXth squadron of the IRAS. This featured their famous skull and crossbones insignia on the rudder.

The reputation Spin gained with the earlier Bristol M.1, led me to want to see for myself the quality of their kits – I am not disappointed. The only thing I am worried about is the coating on the PE. We shall have to see how the kit builds up to answer this question.

My thanks to Lubos Vinar of VAMP Mail Order for both review samples.

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