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  1. I had hoped to get this one in 'under the wire' for Armistice Day...but figured a little extra care was better than speed, since it was a project years in the making, anyway. This is Hobbycraft's all-too-hard-to-find 1/32 SPAD XIII fighter, done up as 'Smith IV,' the mount of US ace Capt. Arthur Raymond Brooks---the real original Kellner-built a/c now residing in near-pristine restored condition at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. I first saw her as a torn and tattered pre-restoration hulk at the Silver Hill storage facility back in the early '80s...very shortly before the museum's crack staff worked their magic, and restored her to her present glory. Kit detail is a combination of lots of scratchbuilding and some modified p-e bits from the Eduard set designed for Roden's earlier-model SPAD VII. Specific changes to turn it into Brooks' mount included modifying the lower wings to the earlier 'rounded' configuration, then adding Tom's Modelworks 'plywood' wing extensions in p-e. The kit's Vickers machine guns were scrapped in favor of scratch-built versions of the Marlin models used by something like two-thirds of US-operated SPADs. Finally, the kit's solid 'wing' axle and spreader-bar assembly for the landing gear was switched for the open 'skeleton frame' style seen on the NASM bird. Colors are 'home brew' mixes of Tamiya acrylics. Markings were drawn up in MS-Paint on the PC and the decals printed on my trusty HP inkjet. Notable are the 60-or-so small black patches scattered over the airframe---repaired battle-damage on the original a/c, most decorated by proud groundcrewmen with a tiny German cross. (A number of these are disconcertingly close to the cockpit---including one only inches behind the pilot's headrest...and three at the base of the tiny windscreen, forward.) The kit's prop was the wrong style (of the close to a dozen different models used, from various manufacturers); one from my 'spares' collection was close to the right shape, so I grafted on slightly longer tips and 'squared' them to match the original's Gremont-supplied unit. Rigging is various thicknesses of EZ-line, with hardware cobbled together from an assortment of different p-e sets, and lengths of polyimide tubing. For those interested, the WIP can be found here. A real labor of love, and great fun. Hope you enjoy the photos.
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