Eduard 1/48 Spad XIII Late

By Dave Calhoun

Introduction

The French Spad XIII was based on the earlier Spad VII fighter, but used a more powerful engine and carried two Vickers machine guns instead of the single gun on the earlier aircraft. It was introduced in mid 1917 and became the standard French fighter in most Escadrilles by the end of the year. The performance was so great that nine different manufacturers contracted to build the Spad XIII. Each manufacturer followed common plans but also had a slightly different method of painting the five color camouflage, and some researchers are able to identify the manufacturer by examining the camouflage pattern and insignia in photos. The early versions had rounded wing tips and a 220 hp Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine. There were stability issues due to the rounded wing tips, and later versions went back to the square tipped wings similar to the Spad VII. Also a 235 hp engine was introduced in the later runs.

The Kit

This kit from Eduard is the Late version with the squared wing tips. Decals are provided for four different French aircraft, one for Sergent Fernand Chavannes, SPA 112, August 1918. Second is Lieutenant Charles Nungesser SPA 65(GC 13) September 1918. Third is Adjutant Marius Blanc SPA 81, summer 1918. Last is Captaine Rene Fonck, SPA 103 (GC 15) Fall 1918.

The instructions have colored 4 view diagrams of each marking option, showing the different camouflage patterns but not telling which manufacturer did each scheme so it appears that some more research may be needed to verify the schemes shown. The parts breakdown is typical for the new Eduard kits, a sheet of photoetched parts with some pre-painted components. There are also the Quick masks, diecut tape to mask the wheels and windshields. There are 3 sprues of a beige colored plastic and a sprue of clear parts with 3 different windshields.

The parts breakdown is similar to the 1/72 scale kit, with a separate turtledeck & horizontal control surface piece that attaches to the box like fuselage, avoiding any seam filling along the center with the nicely molded stringer detail. There are optional parts for the propeller, although it does not tell which one to use for each of the 4 versions. One is a Gremont while the other is an Éclair, and both look good, but guess you will need photos of the actual plane to choose the correct one! There is also an optional radiator shutter and cowling without cooling holes. They are grayed out on the instruction sheet as parts not to use – probably to be used for the upcoming release of the early version.

The surface detail on the ribs is amazing – they have replicated the rib stitching on the rib tapes, and I’m not sure if it will show through a coat of camouflage paint but it is there!

Since I have built the DML Dragon Spad XIII kit before, I am going to give a quick comparison of the two kits and pick a winner. The Eduard interior has about half of the parts of the kit, full gauges with separate instruments in pre-painted photoetch, all fuel lines and selector switch, nice seat with prepainted harness, and nice stick & pedals. It beats the DML interior, which had a seat with incorrect shape and no seat cushion, plus about half of the hoses that Eduard has included. Eduard also has a pre-painted map and holder to go inside the cockpit.

Externally I have not laid out the wings on the Windsock Datafile plans, but due to the nicely detailed rib tapes I have to give the external detail to Eduard. The Eduard struts are also nicely molded parts, while DML used flat photoetched parts for the center section and cabine struts. Have to pick Eduard again.

For the cowl and nose panels, Eduard has the cooling holes in the lower cowl panel and separate radiator shutters, beating DML again. The only parts on the DML kit that I would say are better than the Eduard kit are the exhaust pipes and the Vickers guns. Eduard continues to use a one piece Vickers gun with solid end, while DML is the only company so far using a separate hollow plastic end of the jacket with a photoetched end to make it look hollow same as the original gun. Also Eduard molded the exhaust pipes as one piece parts, while DML did theirs nicer with photoetched mounting brackets and step. Might be a good idea to pull those parts off of an old DML kit, but the Eduard kit can still be done nice out of the box.

Conclusion

Eduard is to be recommended for releasing this kit, it is the best kit ever issued of the Spad XIII in 1/48 scale with an interior that needs almost nothing except the rigging wires. I only wonder why they did four different French markings options, although there will probably be special editions with American, Italian, Belgian and British markings. Also there are several decal sheets available for the DML kit that should go nicely with this kit.

My thanks go to Eduard for the review kit.

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