Omega 1/72 Resin SPAD A.2
By Bob Pearson
Prior to the introduction of a workable interrupter gear to allow the firing of fixed machine guns through the propellor arc, the two most common solutions were to use a pusher design with the engine behind the pilot, or an overwing gun. However a less orthodix solution was arrived at in both France and Britian with the appearance of the so-called 'pulpit fighters'. In Britian this was the little-known R.A.F BE9, while in France it was the SPAD A.2/4.
The BE9 was not developed further, but the SPAD designs actually entered series production and were issued to frontline escadrilles. However these were quickly withdrawn. .... and transferred to the Imperial Russian Air Service who were starved for 'modern' aircraft.
The distinguishing feature of these aircraft was the fact that the engine was in the normal 'tractor' location, but a nacelle was fixed ahread of the engine resulting the appearance of the engine being in the middle of the aircraft. Inside this nacelle sat a victim (for that was what he was in the event of any accidents) who manned a flexible machine gun of some sort. A modification of this design was to fit a fixed forward firing gun in the nacelle, this was known as the SPAD G.1.
At least one SPAD A survived to serve with the Soviet Air Service in the Russian Civil War.
Three companies (A-Model, Omega and Roseplane) have recently released models of the SPAD A series aircraft. I take a look at two of them, while Matt Bittner will do a summary comparison of the three kits. Sadly we do not have a proper review of the A-Model kit as the reviewer was unable to get photos taken, and Matt had already started his kit.
The Omega kit comes with almost all parts in sealed plastic, separated by basic function: Fuselage, wings, engine and others. There are also a few loose parts in the box as well as a fret of PE and a decal sheet.
The fuselage is cast in a single main piece with an open pilot's cockpit. This is to be covered by a separate fairing on the upper deck. Basic internal structure is cast in place, and there is also an open panel to be covered with a movable PE panel. Cockpit detail consists of seat, stick, rudder pedals, floor, floor and control panel.
The nacelle is also cast in one piece with a fairing to be added to cover the opening after internal detail is added. The grill on the side is done as a series of small, closely spaced holes. Thin brass is provided to make the gun mount on the nacelle.
The wings are nice, with subtle rib details. The same goes for the tail surfaces.
The engine is a little kit itself with individual cylinders and intake pipes to be attached to a central hub. Omega is apparently marketing the engine separately now as well.
The remaining parts are various struts, wheels, propellor and an ingenious jig to correctly align the PE wheels. The PE is placed between the two halves and is pressed into the correct angle.
A fret of photoetch is provided for the fuselage fairing, seatbelts, engine bearer and spoked wheels
Instructions are shown on two pages of exploded steps and there is also a five view 1/72 drawing.
Decals are provided for the ubiquitous French "Ma Jeanne", however there is a slight mistake as the decals show it to be Ma Jeanne II, rather than the correct quotation marks on either side of the name
The Omega SPAD A.2 looks to be a straight-forward build and I shall be sending it one of our builders to do just that.
My thanks to Lubos Vinar of VAMP Mail Order for the review sample