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SPAD 13.C1 of the US 22nd Aero Sq. (Hobbycraft 1/32)

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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.



























































Edited by thorfinn
more pics!
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Beautiful and obviously inspired modelling!


Judging from the positions of the patched bullet holes, the pilot should be grateful for being able to make a landing that he could walk from… 😉


Kind regards,



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4 hours ago, tomcervo said:

The Hobbycraft molds for this kit seem to be in the same warehouse as the Lost Ark.


A real shame, too! It's nowhere near, say, WNW complexity...but little touches in the molding suggest to me that it was tooled by somebody who really gave a fig!

Plus, it has the most petite, close-to-scale struts I've ever seen in a 1/32 kit. I've never been able to build one without wonking at least one of those half-bay 'H' struts! (But I guess that's what super-glue is for.... :whistle:)

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Wow now that's one Beautiful SPAD my friend. Impressive details and painting as well. Well Done and Congratulations.

Highest Regards,

Gregory Jouette 


PS: Love those many tiny little bullet hole patches. What decals did you use?

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I really love this one!


Having built this old Hobbycraft kit in the past I truly appreciate the work you have put into this model Spad.


Beautiful job as others have already said.





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2 hours ago, Spad57 said:

PS: Love those many tiny little bullet hole patches. What decals did you use? 

Couldn't find any commercial ones small enough, so I made 'em myself. Graphics worked up in MS-Paint (w/images 'tweaked' from the interweb), and printed on my home inkjet. Same for the mini 'headstone' victory/mission markings along the lower edge of the stbd. fuselage side.


All the markings were home-made. I waited for years for some aftermarket manufacturer to do them, but no luck. Once 'home' decal technology was practical, I was set! :D

Thanks for your gracious comment.

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5 hours ago, thorfinn said:

A real shame, too! It's nowhere near, say, WNW complexity...but little touches in the molding suggest to me that it was tooled by somebody who really gave a fig!

Plus, it has the most petite, close-to-scale struts I've ever seen in a 1/32 kit. I've never been able to build one without wonking at least one of those half-bay 'H' struts! (But I guess that's what super-glue is for.... :whistle:)

No, it's not WNW level of detail, but as originally marketed, it was a long way below the WNW price. Even today I think a new issue would sell for less than half the WNW lowest price. It's a kit that can be built right out of the box as a fine representation. And as we see here, in the hands of a master, a masterpiece.

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  • 2 months later...

Richard, thanks for your interest.


Wherever possible, I make up my rigging wires separately, to be able to just 'plug them in' to holes pre-drilled into the model before assembly, painting and finishing. This usually works fairly straightforwardly for flying and landing wires and control lines...but can sometimes require a little 'sleight of hand' for more crowded or hard-to-reach area like cabane struts, and interplane bracing wires.


Basic materials are fine wire (to make the eyelets that hold the lines), elastic EZ-Line for the rigging itself, and small-diameter polyimide tubing (available online) for the 'turnbuckle' bodies. Absolutely essential (to my mind) are two sets of good-quality cross-lock needle-nose tweezers, indispensable both for making up the rigging lines, and for installing them after painting. I also use CA as my main adhesive, though epoxy would probably work as well.


After working out a rigging plan to determine which lines will be needed, where they need to reach, and in what order (and point of construction) they'll need to be installed, it's good to drill the holes before major assembly or any finishing, when it's still easy to reach every area. Where thickness of parts allow, I don't usually drill completely through wings or control surfaces...using a bit of wire insulation on my drill bit as a 'gauge' to get a consistent depth.


I make up my own rigging eyelets from twisted wire as shown in the photos below. These are very similar to the wonderful 'Bob's Buckles' you may have seen or read about, available as an aftermarket item. The main difference--and why I started making my own---is that my method of 'faux' turnbuckles needs a longer shank on the eyelet than 'Bob's Buckles' have. After the eyelets are made up [always make extras--they tend to 'ping' off into space now and then], I thread the line-ends through and twist a small loop of the elastic material into a coil, then hit it with a droplet of super-glue. With only a bit of practice it's pretty easy to get consistent-length splice sections; any excess line can be trimmed with nail-clippers.

Adding the opposite-end eyelet for each line requires measuring for your final line-length. Taking the stretchability of the EZ-Line into account, I make the completed lines about 3/4 of the length they'll need to cover whatever span required.








I find the polyimide tubing easier to use than the brass often suggested for scale turnbuckle bodies. It's easy to cut by 'rolling' with a hobby-knife blade or single-edge razor blade; inserting a bit of stiff wire through the tubing first keeps the cut sections from flying off as the are wont to do. Even if it's just 'chopped' on a flat surface, it springs back to its tubular shape. It's much easier to 'thread' onto lines or eyelets than brass tubing as well.


I just slide a section of the tubing over the shank of the eyelet and secure it with any adhesive. Then the lines are ready to go.


Cabane struts and deck areas forward of the cockpit are most easily rigged before the top wing is attached, If drilling holes for eyelets is impractical, tubing sections can be threaded onto the lines themselves, then the lines can be secured with CA alone, and then disguised with etch fittings to resemble brackets and such.


Once your model is assembled and painted--an important step to avoid frustration--use a needle or stiff wire to go back and check that all your pre-drilled holes are still clear. Then use the cross lock tweezers to insert the eyelets, one at a time, into the corresponding holes. When stretching each line and fixing the opposite end, make sure that lines aren't crossed, or passed on the wrong side of intervening struts, or wrapped around other lines or projecting bits. (Good light and optical aids help here.) A tiny droplet of CA on the eyelets should hold almost instantly to secure the anchor sliding into its socket.


Angles of lines can be adjusted by carefully bending the anchored eyelets into line with a toothpick or other implement. The coiled wire is pretty forgiving for minor adjustments.


Double flying wires are only as difficult as drilling the two side-by-side seating holes as close together as you can get them. Then just attach as usual.


You asked specifically about the 'H' struts on the SPAD. The best part of this whole method is that the lines don't actually have to be anchored to those bay struts, to start; properly-located, the crossing lines just 'touch' where they're supposed to, crossing at or near the center of that bay strut. (I ran one flying wire to the outside, one to the inside, the latter actually passing above the horizontal member. It's such a minute offset that it's scarcely visible, as long as the forward and rear lines cross at the same point.) Once the lines were attached to the wings, I used a droplet of CA to tack the lines in place on the bay strut.


I then used spare bits of photo-etch left over from previous projects to simulate the brackets on the real a/c. Glued on top of the crossed lines and carefully painted, they look like they're attaching to the strut instead of just the lines.


Sorry this turned into a treatise, but I hope this answers your major questions. If you have any specific queries (or clarifications needed) just let me know. I apologize for not including the close-ups you requested, but I don't have any that show any better detail; I may be able to take some new ones this weekend.


Cheers, and good luck on your projects!

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Thank you for your prompt and thorough reply.  It is exactly what I needed.  I have a small squadron of Roden Spad vii and a couple of Hobbycraft Spad xiii that are getting to the rigging stage and your method will help me get on toward completion.  I really appreciate your help and admire your work.


BTY - When I saw you live in Towson, it took me back to my high school days.  I attended Perry Hall HS.  The good old days!



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55 minutes ago, RichardCapriglione said:

BTY - When I saw you live in Towson, it took me back to my high school days.  I attended Perry Hall HS.  The good old days! 

Cool! I didn't grow up or go to school here, but I've lived here since '82. It's definitely home, now.

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