Jump to content

As a result of the close-down of the UK by the British Government last night, we have made all the Buy/Sell areas read-only until we open back up again, so please have a look at the announcement linked here.

This site uses cookies! Learn More

This site uses cookies!

You can find a list of those cookies here: mysite.com/cookies

By continuing to use this site, you agree to allow us to store cookies on your computer. :)

thorfinn

NASM SPAD XIII 1/32 - MISSION-READY!

Recommended Posts

A little while back I dragged out my last remaining Hobbycraft SPAD XIII in the stash to do this long-planned project---'Smith IV,' the Smithsonian NASM's beautifully-restored Kellner-built a/c, the original flown by long-lived ace Arthur Raymond Brooks of the American 22nd Aero Squadron 'Shooting Stars.'

 

44217879454_4cfa67a1e5_b.jpg

(Copyright Smithsonian Institution, photo by Mark Avino; used under terms of fair use for non-commercial, educational purposes; https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/spad-xiii-smith-iv)

 

I first 'met' (and fell hopelessly in love with) Smith IV when she was still a battered and tattered hulk at the Smithsonian's Silver Hill storage facility back in the 1980s...and was tremendously excited when the docent leading our tour-group shared the news that this very a/c was slated for an imminent full restoration to near-original condition, in her original markings. [Needless to say, I have 'visited' this beauty in her spiffy new colors a number of times since.]

 

I immediately resolved to build it...excitedly supposing it inevitable that someone, somewhere, would come out with a top-notch set of aftermarket markings for what is undoubtedly one of the best-known original SPAD XIIIs still in existence.

 

[Cue the crickets chirping....]

 

Failing that, I resorted to what dear Baldrick might have termed a 'cunning plan'...in my case, through the minor magic of computer graphics and 'print it at home' inkjet decal paper. Markings sorted (after a fashion), Hobbycraft's quite-nice 1/32 offering (which was an old favorite anyway) seemed the perfect basis for the project.

 

The NASM's particular aircraft will require two relatively minor mods to the kit.

 

First is the wings: Smith IV has 'mismatched' wings, probably due to replacements being fitted following operational damage (which was a pretty common occurrence). The aircraft's upper wing is the 'square' wingtip style adapted in later factory production to provide greater wing area and improved handling...and which, coincidentally, matches the Hobbycraft kit. Lower wings are the original rounded-tip style...to which plywood 'pocket' extensions were added as a field-modification, to give a profile similar to the late-production wings. Fortunately, Tom's Modelworks makes a small photo-etch set supplying the wingtip 'pockets' complete with scale templates showing the slight span extension necessary before fitting the retro-tips.

 

Second mod concerns the armament: as Vickers machine guns were in painfully-short supply when the AEF squadrons took the field, an American-made Marlin design was substituted in many US-operated aircraft. Smith IV has these very distinctive-looking guns. No aftermarket help here---although I've heard Wingnut Wings supplied them in some of their kits---but there are plenty of photos around, and they're relatively easy to scratchbuild.

 

Enough blather, let's see some photos. The kit:

44938442041_bb7d7fdf6e_b.jpg

 

44217879884_4618e8697c_b.jpg

 

44938442611_c5e8a193d8_b.jpg

 

And some of the the 'stuff': Eduard's 1/32 p-e set (actually designed for Roden's SPAD VII, but some of the components and fittings are useful or can be modified for the XIII); and the Tom's 'wing pocket' set---which also includes some nifty screens to replace the solid engine-access panels, a common swap-out also seen on Smith IV:

 

44217879714_c034d0d9d2_b.jpg

 

And my 'ace in the hole'---a second set of scratchbuilt cockpit components I turned out at the same time as last year's build of the same kit...as Charles d'Olive's 93rd Aero bird. [RFI here, for any who may be interested.]

 

44217879574_378a40f29c_b.jpg

 

And last but certainly not least, a sampling of my home-brewed decals:

 

44217879324_e7c7a96863_b.jpg

 

So much for the long-winded tedious introduction. Next post will be the wing mods.

 

Thanks for looking in.

Edited by thorfinn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What a great introduction post!! 

 

Appreciate the link to your other SPAD build. Now I need to search out your other threads!

 

Thanks.

 

Gene K

Edited by Gene K

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello .. Think i’ll grab a seat up front since im in early to this build. Love to learn about WW1 subjects as im starting to get into them. I have a couple of Nieuports and Spads slated in my wanted list so i can learn something here. 

 

Dennis

Edited by Corsairfoxfouruncle

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

5 hours ago, Corsairfoxfouruncle said:

Hello .. Think i’ll grab a seat up front since im in early to this build. Love to learn about WW1 subjects as im starting to get into them. I have a couple of Nieuports and Spads slated in my wanted list so i can learn something here. 

 

Dennis

Welcome aboard, Dennis. The more, the merrier! :drink:Hope it's half as entertaining as yours usually are.

 

The early-style SPAD wing design wasn't just curved instead of square---so I couldn't get away with simply filing down the 'corners.' The early wing actually extended out a bit farther in span, so to properly use the Tom's Modelworks set (#132-01), the bottom wing's tips had to be 'filled out' a bit. Fortunately the small instruction sheet includes template drawings (conveniently, in all of the three major scales) to help accomplish this.

To give sufficient area to get a good bond with the necessary additions, I elected to cut the wing tips back two full rib sections, and add full-chord extensions to make shaping easier. Using an old scratchbuilding trick, I 'flex-curved' thinner sheets of styrene, then laminated them together to 'lock in' the curve to match that of the wing. The wing was also thick enough to add metal pegs made of paper-clip sections, to reinforce the butt-joint; the rest was just shaping and sanding everything to match.

 

Here's the Tom's set (w/one lower pocket already removed), and said wing 'pocket before folding and shaping to the wing:

 

30085398957_400d2f0205_b.jpg

 

30085398547_8eba7eb8be_b.jpg

 

And here's a composite, showing the whole sequence:

 

30085398387_8c7f09153b_b.jpg

 

And a closeup showing the 'pocket' in place. I toyed with the idea of drilling out the photo-etch piece and actually adding lacing...but a study of available photos show the real thing looks pretty much like the etch; you can tell the lacing is there, but once doped and/or painted over, it's pretty flush-looking with the wing.

 

30085398057_e00591cc32_o.jpg

 

'Join us again next time...' for the excitement of cockpit detailing.

 

Edited by thorfinn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most WW1 aircraft cockpits look a world away from what today would be called 'cockpit ergonomics.' Controls and instruments were jammed into the tiny cockpit spaces wherever they could be made to fit...amid the frames and structural wires, control cables and---sometimes---perilously-vulnerable unshielded fuel and lubricant tanks. The SPAD cockpits were even more haphazard-looking than most, with a structure that looked like nailed-together plywood peach-crates, a spaghetti-tangle of oil lines snaking through the cockpit right next to the pilot's seat, and instruments looking more like alarm-clocks nailed on a narrow bathroom shelf than any sort of proper 'panel.'

The Hobbycraft kit gives a pretty good 'basic' cockpit, with decent molded-in frame and stringer detail on the fuselage sides, and seat, rudder pedals, stick and floor frames as separate components. Very basic instruments and major cockpit fitting shapes are also supplied, as well as gauge decals for several instrument faces.

 

45087569872_83e1b177f0_b.jpg

 

30126937747_a0a18e5e5e_b.jpg

 

30126938217_e0446aa83a_b.jpg

 

Fortunately, there are several excellent photo collections of SPAD interiors online...including some of Smith IV itself. I added detail with the usual bits of wire and solder, plastic rod, sheet, and tubing. Instrument faces are computer images resized and printed out on plain paper. Paints are a combination of Testors 'square bottle' enamels and Tamiya acrylics. I think I managed to get a bit closer to the cluttered 'wood and wire' look of the original.

Starboard cockpit, showing (L-to-R) machine-gun ejection chute, hand-crank magneto, and map-holder. Beige box aft is the small canvas-sided stowage bin aft of cockpit.

 

30126937657_79179942d5_b.jpg

 

Port cockpit, with gimbal-mounted compass and throttle quadrant.

 

30126938097_a5302e3aae_b.jpg

 

And the cockpit floor structure, with oil lines, control cables, and assorted greebles. Seat is shown test-fitted, with belts yet to be added.

 

30126937817_8102ab9eac_b.jpg

 

30126937777_4383c646c1_b.jpg

 

And here's the side-by-side, with a shot of the real thing and the 'reasonable facsimile.'

 

30126937567_fbe9665904_b.jpg

 

Next up will be flight instruments. Thanks for looking in.

Edited by thorfinn
Typos. ALWAYS typos....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh... I'm onboard for this one if I may.  I've got a stash of 1/48 WW I birds in my build queue but so far, no SPAD.  The last  SPAD I built was the old Revell 1/28 offering back when I was a kid.  I want to rectify that shortcoming and figure if I tag along here, I might learn something useful!  sJMLWg76_o.gif

Edited by uncletommy
hoo kant spel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, uncletommy said:

Oh... I'm onboard for this one if I may.  I've got a stash of 1/48 WW I birds in my build queue but so far, no SPAD.  The last  SPAD I build was the old Revell 1/28 offering back when I was a kid.  I want to rectify that shortcoming and figure if I tag along here, I might learn something useful!  sJMLWg76_o.gif

Happy to have you along!:penguin:

I have fond memories of the Revell 1/28 kit, having built several of them over the (gulp!) decades. (I think that solid top wing is the single heaviest slab of plastic I've ever seen in a kit!)

Hope the present project proves useful.

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
18 minutes ago, thorfinn said:

I think that solid top wing is the single heaviest slab of plastic I've ever seen in a kit!

And the pilots and ground crew were unidentifiable slabs of flash.  uiPAuRhQ_o.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finishing off the cockpit and interior.

The kit design has one awkward feature: the instrument 'shelf' and forward bulkhead---effectively one 'instrument panel' assembly in the real thing---is divided into separate pieces in the kit, with the 'bulkhead' portion molded under the cockpit coaming part. That arrangement makes fitting the rather haphazard instrument placement a little more difficult, requiring a bit of extra care to make sure everything 'meshes' properly.

 

Letting the pictures tell the story:

 

45186904012_e4fd161dde_b.jpg

 

45186903422_42fe999f3f_b.jpg

 

31362976408_87a60faed3_b.jpg

 

30297610427_1d9c210647_b.jpg

 

31362976298_0c0c0621a9_b.jpg

 

30297610317_802a56a124_b.jpg

 

31362976158_1719f7459f_b.jpg

 

30297610217_e4f8752b67_b.jpg

 

31362976058_b59a77074b_b.jpg

 

30297610107_3bf0a3456b_o.jpg

 

45186903632_a917d47db8_b.jpg

 

45186902802_9e5d9d2907_b.jpg

 

Next should be guns.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Continuing on with details.

The Marlin machine guns used by many of the US Aero squadrons have much less visual 'personality' than the more familiar Vickers- or Lewis-type allied guns, having no distinctive cooling jacket. This was especially true on the SPAD, where they were buried and fairly well-concealed in the forward deck structure, being visible essentially as barrels with whatever mounting hardware and sights were used. I therefore just added the basic breech shape to brass-tubing barrels, with the L-shaped charging handles (from twist-tie wire) extending back into the cockpit. The geometry of that internal detail was such that I had to mount the guns before attaching the cockpit coaming piece; I'll add details of mounting, trigger motors and sights once fuselage painting is complete.

 

43508534110_6aeb92371e_b.jpg

 

43508533650_2662ddaaf8_b.jpg

 

A study of available photos of Smith IV online reminded me of one more area of minor 'conversion' necessary to the Hobbycraft kit parts. The kit's combination axle/spreader bar is a solid 'wing' with the axle stubs attached...which was a common style (being present, for instance, on the Memorial Flight a/c, which is also an original Kellner-built machine). Smith IV, however, has a sort of open 'skeleton frame' assembly with parts of the axle more exposed. It seemed much easier to build it than to modify the kit part...though I kept the axle 'stubs' (which in the kit also form the lower structure of the gear struts themselves), adding a 'paper clip' metal axle for strength, and building the rest around it.

 

43508533610_dbb49b95c7_b.jpg

 

44411248555_cfa68d01a6_b.jpg

 

Those same pesky photos showed the engine screens have a smaller 'chicken wire' mesh than the nicely-etched Tom's Modelworks parts, so I bit the bullet and cut the larger hex mesh from the tiny-section frames, and super-glued bits of 'tulle' bridal-veil as the credible-looking mesh. They are a bit delicate and fragile-looking, so they'll be among the last things added once finishing and rigging is done.

 

43508533460_0f44ab0362_o.jpg

 

44411248425_062ebd5af8_b.jpg

 

Last 'fiddly bit' before moving on to wings and such is adding the 'external' part of the bomb carrier, the plywood panel and hinged access door beneath the fuselage. A few spare etch bits from a used p-e set filled in for the fasteners and hinges.

 

44411248015_2063038c21_b.jpg

 

'Coming up next time'...wings, gear struts and tail surface are in sight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Plugging along.

Lower wing, horizontal stabilizer and gear struts are now on, nearly ready to paint. First I made sure to think-through and plot out my rigging scheme, drilled some holes, and added the double 'turnbuckles' adjacent to the fuselage, where they'd be difficult to position (neatly) later; then added a few P-E and scratch-built details:

 

45406752132_3f32db2320_b.jpg

 

45406752762_3b9e2f0635_b.jpg

 

45406752102_226ea0ebc6_b.jpg

 

On to paint.

Despite Smith IV's current circumstances, I don't intend to go for quite a pristine 'museum' finish...but prefer a lightly-weathered 'service' look; somewhat as a subtle nod to her 'well used' (i.e., tattered and torn) appearance when I first saw her, in her pre-restoration days. A bit of 'everyday' fading and scuffing here and there should be sufficient.

 

The mix of colors for the NASM's 1980's restoration were supervised by famed WW1 aviation authority Alan Toelle, who actually supplied the authentically-mixed tint-bases used to apply the scheme. His comments and discussion of the colors involved is accessible on several forums online, and is an extraordinarily useful tool (in addition to the many photographs available) for trying to replicate Smith IV's finish.

 

Beginning with the undersides, photos of SPADs, both in museums and in daylight, show very little 'shadow' effect of wing structure visible from below. Instead---as with many dark-color-camouflage schemes of the era---the ribs areas on the underside actually appear lighter, due to the double-layer of surface where the rib tapes are. This makes rendering the same in scale a bit easier, since it involves masking mainly ribs, and not having to do the whole wing structure in detail.

 

My tried-and-true 'standard' CDL (or in this case, French ecru) mix is made up from Tamiya White plus Buff, with a little Dark Yellow added. I don't use a precise formula, preferring to vary the appearance to the individual project or source-material as needed, but it's a dependable 'basic' mix for an assortment of early-aviation services and types.

Here's the process, step-by-step:

 

45406752682_891019ae64_b.jpg

 

45406752562_db8901f26a_b.jpg

 

45406752402_3446332fe2_b.jpg

 

45406752342_06e2673a68_b.jpg

 

45406752192_bc1e9c7032_b.jpg

 

45406751912_fc1b8505ea_b.jpg

 

More anon....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brilliant workmanship here as well as research.

 

Are you going to use Tamiya paint,  as I have not found a mix chart,  I have a Revell rebox of the Eduard kit stashed,  which has Revell paint mixes, and Eduard use Gunze.

I did find some online references, but any specific links I'm sure would be of wider interest here as well.

 

I have read about the restoration in Robert Mikesh book "Restoring Museum Aircraft" as well,

 

Cheers

T

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, John and Troy!

3 hours ago, Troy Smith said:

Are you going to use Tamiya paint,  as I have not found a mix chart,  I have a Revell rebox of the Eduard kit stashed,  which has Revell paint mixes, and Eduard use Gunze.

I did find some online references, but any specific links I'm sure would be of wider interest here as well.

I don't recall ever having seen a comprehensive list of mix formulas for the 5-color French scheme on another website...but the Aerodrome forum might be a good place to start hunting: they've got tons of great information buried there, but it usually takes a bit of digging to sort through it all. It would surprise me if the question hadn't been raised and authoritatively answered somewhere in their archive.

 

That having been said, I'm one of those 'dinosaur' types that has always been quite happy mixing my own colors...which proved of great benefit a decade or so ago, when I switched over to using Tamiya acrylics almost exclusively. I love the ease-of-use and durability of their paints, but their fairly limited color range doesn't offer much in the way of 'official' shades (although they're getting better in that regard all the time). I'll be very happy to list my mixes for both the cellulose-dope colors and their oil-based Ripolin equivalents (used on metal surfaces, on the originals), once I am finished.

 

Cheers

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, Troy Smith said:

Are you going to use Tamiya paint,  as I have not found a mix chart,  I have a Revell rebox of the Eduard kit stashed,  which has Revell paint mixes, and Eduard use Gunze.

I did find some online references, but any specific links I'm sure would be of wider interest here as well. 

Troy, a little update after poking around online:

Wingnut Wings has the option on their website to download their various kit instructions. The set for their gorgeous Salmson 2-A2 has a chart showing Tamiya mixes for the range of French WW1 colors, including both the dope and paint colors. I haven't played with them yet...I will, for darned sure...but the colors seem well-regarded by several online commentators. Worth checking out.

Regards

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Moving right along. 'Glad rags' on....

 

It doesn't show much in the photos, but I added a bit of aluminum acrylic paint to the Future I use for the decal prep coat, to replicate the distinctive translucent sheen peculiar to the French camouflage schemes. (The French added a significant aluminum-powder component to their dope colors, to give the fabric some added protection against degrading UV at altitude.)

 

The metal cowling and access hatches on the originals were painted in oil-based Ripolin paints rather than the cellulose-based dope , so those colors sometimes matched (as on the brown), sometimes varied widely (as on the green)...probably depending on factory stocks at any given moment.

 

44644943175_a7c8e33b2f_b.jpg

 

45559093401_ab8f7381c4_b.jpg

 

45559093301_9bf425bf58_b.jpg

 

45559093231_21cc61b6f4_b.jpg

 

Next up will be decal markings.

Edited by thorfinn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, enamel paints for the French colours have been produced by White Ensign/Sovereign and acrylic by Mr.Kit (Italy).  Paint chips can also be found in Monogram US Army air Service/Corps painting guide, which covers WW1 as well as inter-war period, along with old Windsock magazines.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Home-made decals are now mostly on; still have a few touch-ups and color adjustments to do, but it's progressing fairly well.

 

44709263125_c04c314e16_b.jpg

 

45622758351_60fbe46026_b.jpg

 

45622758151_03d48b8fe8_b.jpg

 

Fun but seemingly little-known fact, for us modelers: many SPADs...Smith IV included...had different colored roundels on upper and lower wings. (This is a subtlety that seems to have successfully eluded most decal manufacturers.  :oops:) Upper wing roundels were factory-applied in appropriately-tinted cellulose dope, prior to the camouflage colors being added. Under-wing roundels and rudder stripes, on the other hand, were applied with conventional paints...often using the stock 'French Blue' (a blue-grey shade) insignia color, irrespective of the service the aircraft was actually destined for.

 

44709262435_bdd8edaac7_b.jpg

 

Still have to add one distinctive detail that Smith IV exhibits: I'll have to map and apply the several dozen enemy bullet-hole patches applied to various locations on the original---most painted black and marked by proud ground-crews with a tiny German cross.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Looks great. 

 

What paint colours did you use in the end?

 

Cheers

Troy

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Troy Smith said:

What paint colours did you use in the end?

Here's the lot, as best I remembered to jot them down. The 'color base' proportions should be more or less accurate...to my eye, at least...but the white proportions may be slightly off in spots, as I sometimes tend to add a bit more 'in progress' to get the right look, and to match tones for scale effect.

 

31753493118_e72dc43b12_b.jpg

 

Note that these colors look a bit different than some of the various museum photos of Smith IV available on the interweb. Having seen it numerous times in person---in somewhat varying light conditions---it's clear that many of those photos skew to a slightly yellow hue, due no doubt to the vagaries of lighting photos in a challenging museum environment. Just my 2 pfennigs.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, thorfinn said:

 seemingly little-known fact, for us modelers: many SPADs...Smith IV included...had different colored roundels on upper and lower wings. (This is a subtlety that seems to have successfully eluded most decal manufacturers.  :oops:) Upper wing roundels were factory-applied in appropriately-tinted cellulose dope, prior to the camouflage colors being added. Under-wing roundels and rudder stripes, on the other hand, were applied with conventional paints...often using the stock 'French Blue' (a blue-grey shade) insignia color, irrespective of the service the aircraft was actually destined for.

 

 

 

 

Very interesting; I wasn't aware of that. Where is it referenced ?     The old Americal/Gryphon USAS roundel sheet had them in both colours, but wasn't sure how correct this was.

 

Not sure if there was 'stock' French insignia colour in WW1 (which was the case later). Original Autochrome-process colour photos from WW1 have been found in recent years and some of those, notably of Nieuport aircraft show that they definitely

didn't use the grey/blue shade, but a darker, ultramarine shade. So maybe the colour used was different for individual manufacturers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Roger Holden said:

Very interesting; I wasn't aware of that. Where is it referenced ?     The old Americal/Gryphon USAS roundel sheet had them in both colours, but wasn't sure how correct this was.

Quickest 'to hand' reference is J.M. Bruce's Windsock Datafile 32: SPAD 13.C1 (Revised Ed.); on p. 33 he describes the process, even citing the Lithopone tint (a zinc-based white) added to the clear dope over the 'white' sections of the roundels, which were typically left in the natural fabric color when the roundel was applied. (Also based on years of seminars attended, personal exchanges with the long-suffering and very patient folks at the Smithsonian NASM, and lots of culling through posts on several forums---notably Aerodrome.)

 

I in no way meant to attempt to present myself as some sort of authority on the subject: merely an interested punter. Even in the exchanges with the Smithsonian staff over the years, much of what was offered was freely-acknowledged as 'informed speculation' rather than some immutable truth handed down from 'on-high,' so I wouldn't venture to present it as such.  :banghead:

 

I have seen...and been gobsmacked by...the color shots of French a/c to which you referred. Just 'wow.' In the present instance, however, I've happily charged myself only with trying to replicate this particular a/c, guided by the NASM's interpretation. Their colors, as used for my reference:

(Photos 1 & 3 Copyright 2015 Russell Smith Studios, posted on Mr. Smith's Facebook page; photo 2 copyright unknown. excerpted here for purposes of educational discussion only.)

 

44718001815_e8317a77bd_b.jpg

 

Many thanks for your reply, and your interest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, thorfinn said:

Quickest 'to hand' reference is J.M. Bruce's Windsock Datafile 32: SPAD 13.C1 (Revised Ed.); on p. 33 he describes the process, even citing the Lithopone tint (a zinc-based white) added to the clear dope over the 'white' sections of the roundels, rest.

Ok; I have that, although the first version from the 1980s(?), which is about as long ago as I read it.  Thanks for the photos; I know the Smithsonian is very particular about its restorations, so it's probably as reliable as we are going to get.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...