I lied. Last month I promised a look at another of Aurora's private planes but we decided to postpone that for one issue so that I could do a kit that would tie in with our current theme. Next month's feature model will be another Aurora gem but right now let's take a look at the Meikraft Models 1/72 scale SPAD 13.C1..
The SPAD 13 was perhaps the most recognizable Allied fighter of WWI and one of the most important aircraft produced during the last 18 months of the conflict. Almost 8500 airframes were built, being used by France, Italy, England, Belgium, the USSR, and 16 squadrons of the United States Air Service (USAS) during the war. Captured examples saw German service and many other countries used it during the postwar years. A major modification of the earlier SPAD 7, the new fighter featured a more powerful geared engine in place of the direct drive powerplant of the 7. Twin fixed forward firing Vickers machine guns replaced the single gun of the 7 and several aerodynamic improvements resulted in a slightly larger and bulkier looking aircraft.
The model consists of 19 parts molded in off-white plastic. Details are furnished by 11 photo-etched brass parts, 6 in white metal, and a few pieces of plastic rod. The plastic moldings are a bit rough but still much better than many other limited-run kits I have seen. The metal parts are very high quality although you might want to fatten up the photo-etched struts since even in 1/72 they're too two-dimensional, at least for my taste.
Strangely enough, my second-hand kit didn't have a decal sheet (I'm not sure if it originally included any) but did include a small sheet of thin wood veneer. I don't know where it was intended to be used on this kit but it'll certainly come in handy for other WWI projects, as will the spare prop that's in my bag of white metal parts.
Surface detail is nicely recessed where appropriate and the ribbing on the flying surfaces is very petite and well-done with no exaggerated "fabric texture", which would be totally inappropriate in 1/72 scale anyway. The trailing edges of the wings are nice and thin and have a well done scalloped effect. The surface finish of the parts is a bit rough however, but this should disappear under a coat or two of paint.
There have been two other representations of this aircraft in 1/72 scale: Renwal and Revell, with the Revell kit being variously copied/reissued by Fuji, Nichimo, Eldon, Entex, ESCI, and Sunny (whew!). Czechmasters also issued a resin kit apparently based on the Meikraft molds. Of these the Meikraft is the most accurate - believe it or not, despite their poor overall reputation some of their kits were quite nice.
This model has never been especially easy to find and with the death earlier this year of the company's owner it's highly unlikely that it will ever be reissued. I was lucky enough to pick mine up for $13 at the IPMS/USA national convention in Columbus a few years ago and now wish I had bought a couple more. Anyone interested in WWI aeromodeling in The One True Scale would be well advised to seek out a copy of this nice little kit.
Remember, the Aurora Cherokee 180 is coming next month. Till then, "Build what YOU like, the way YOU want to, and the critics will flame you every time."