- Published on Monday, 26 December 2011 00:02 Robin Jenkins
Catalogue # 8197
Available from Eduard for €25.95
Having recently read, enjoyed and reviewed Osprey's SPAD VII vs Albatros D.III book, I am somewhat high on SPADs at the moment; being more naturally a Nieuport aficionado when French-built WW1 fighters are considered, the book reminded me how important the SPAD fighters were to the Allied war effort in that period – even though they look like carthorses compared to the flowing lines of the Nieuport thoroughbreds.
The SPAD XIII was the major successor to the SPAD VII, being built in greater numbers, armed with twin machine guns, having a more powerful engine and being even more stable as a gun platform. It fought with most of the Allied air forces and was widely liked; only the RFC were stinting in their praise, believing the Sopwith Camel to be a better fighting machine due to its manoeuvrability. Just under 8,000 were built but very few survive today (below).
Just before Christmas in 2010 I reviewed Eduard's 1/72 kit of the early production Spad XIII; therefore, I was extremely eager to see what they could do with the aircraft in the larger 1/48 scale when it was announced, particularly in my favoured ProfiPACK release (yes, I have been accused by chums of being a "ProfiPACK snob" but I genuinely believe this is the correct release format for these detailed kits).
This can actually be seen as an up-scaled version of the 1/72 kit, which is no bad thing at albeit with many more pieces and detail included. It has the same delicate feel of its smaller brother but oozes more class; the standard of moulding is very high and it is spot-on to the plans I compared it against.
Examining the contents of the box, firstly there are 3 light tan sprues. The first one (below) holds the main fuselage and wing structures along with wheels, alternative front cowlings and cowling grills (some of which are for later production variants).
A close-up of the lower wings and wheels shows the beautiful level of detail, applied just with the right level of restraint for this scale. I was puzzled by the way some moulding points appeared on the wingtips on quite thick mounting points. The main sprue photo above shows one had broken off in transit and thankfully not damaged the actual wing, but these will require care in removal by the modeller.
The second sprue (below) provides the upper fuselage decking with tailplanes, elevators, fin and rudder, interior details, lower nose panel, exhaust, undercarriage and alternative airscrews styles. Since these latter styles are markedly different, it is a disappointment that Eduard do not indicate which style is for which aircraft. I know that different manufacturers made airscrews for SPADs, including Éclair and Chauviere, but it will take more thorough references than mine to allocate the right one to the right airframe. Also present here are what I think are the weakest parts of the model, the machine guns. The moulding is a touch 'clunky' in comparison to many other pieces, but they may build up okay.
Above is shown the final sprue, holding all of the remainder of the parts, including all of the struts, joystick, tubular gunsights and aileron linkages. This sprue holds some remarkably fine pieces which add greatly to the "quality feel" I experienced in examining the kit.
The next photo (below) shows several kit parts. The masking sheet (for wheels and windscreen) is top left, next to it are the three alternative windscreen styles on the clear sprue. Finally, below these, is the nice partially pre-painted etched fret; best items here are the instruments and the side engine mesh panels, always a critical feature in a SPAD XIII kit, no matter what the scale.
The large decal sheet (above) is in excellent register and colours are generally good; perhaps the blue in the French cockades is a touch light but I know from discussion that not all of my WW1 aviation chums agree with this. The sheet gives five nicely varied schemes, which are as follows:
Jacques Roques, Escadrille No. 48, Autumn 1917 (below)
Georges Guynemer, Escadrille No.3, France, September 1917J.D. Hewett, 23 Squadron, R.F.C., France, February 1918 (both above)
D. Francesco Baracca, 91a Squadriglia, Italy, May 1918 (below)
Maurice Jean-Paul Boyau, Escadrille No.77, Manoncourt-en-Vermois, France, 1918 (above)
Of these, I loved the Baracca Italian scheme, closely followed by Roques' cockerel-emblazoned natural linen machine.
I took some time to compare this model with what had previously thought was the best SPAD XIII kit in this scale, that produced by Dragon over 10 years ago. There is no comparison; this is so much better, so much more accurate and so much more delicately moulded.
So What Do We Think?
A really lovely kit, complete with some interesting decal choices, that show that Eduard are really still on top of their game. Minor irritation persists that the correct alternative pieces, such as the aforementioned airscrews, along with the 3 windscreens, are not identified clearly to each option. Despite this, it is easily the best SPAD XIII kit in this scale by any manufacturer.
Our thanks to Eduard for the review sample. To purchase directly, click THIS link.