HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
WORLD WAR 1 AIRCRAFT IN 1:48 SCALE

SPAD 7 OF ESCADRILLE Spa.94, AERONAUTIQUE MILITARE, FRANCE 1918

by George Grasse

SPECIAL HOBBY 1:48 SCALE INJECTION KIT SO4009 OF THE SPAD 7

SPECIAL HOBBY SO4009 BOX ART



SPAD 7  THREE-VIEW DRAWING

This 3-view drawing is credited to J. D. Carrick or F. Yeoman and appeared in Fighter Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War compiled by W. M. Lamberton and published by Harleyford Publications Limited.  The Spad 7 was a tremendous leap in fighter aircraft for the French Aeronautique Militare with a large engine for speed and a rugged design for maneuverability, the Spad 7 was equal to any other fighter in late 1916 and well into 1917.  Consult French Aircraft of the First World War by Dr. James J. Davilla and Arthur M. Soltan.



THE MODEL TO BE BUILT
    
The model to be built is Spad 7 No. 3190 of Escadrille Spa.94 flown by Adjutant Andre Martenot de Cordoux (hereafter Adjutant Martenot), an eight-victory ace.   This image by David Mechin shows the 'Grim Reaper' escadrille insignia adopted in April 1918.  See also the book Grim Reapers - French Escadrille 94 in World War I by Jon Guttman published by Aeronaut Books. 
 



Escadrille Spa.94 Insignia adopted from April 1918

CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 1a
COCKPIT: The cockpit details supplied in the kit were plentiful, of good quality, and surprised me.  The 'Chunky' character of the instrument panel and engine firewall result from the resin casting process.  There were several resin parts most of which had to do with cockpit.  Prominent features in this photo are the instrument panel, control column (I switched to a brass rod with a piece of brass tubing for the grip), and the compass which is an Eduard WW1 PE part.

 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 1b
COCKPIT: The seat was from the PE sheet including the belting.  I used Andrea's Union Blue for the French blue used on metal and wooden parts.  The seatbelts were painted using Vallejo's German Camouflage Beige with Natural Steel metal buckles. 

 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 1c

COCKPIT: This view shows the throttle quadrant on the far sidewall.  Note that the sidewalls, left and right, were resin and nicely detailed.  The "skin" color is Vallejo Buff, the wood parts and Vallejo Orange Ochre, and metal wires and control column are Andrea Union Blue.  The instrument panel dials were hand-painted.


 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 1d
COCKPIT: This nearly overhead shot shows the control column area and, to the right, the magneto.  I used one of Eduard's gauge dials for the right-hand dial's face. 


 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 2
FUSELAGE, LOWER WINGS, AND TAIL UNIT:   The cockpit deck was trimmed to fit over the cockpit opening and glued in place.  The engine deck covering is resin and was also trimmed and super glued in place.  The lower wings do not have pegs which is fine with me since I prefer brass rod attachments.  The location on the fuselage was clearly marked.  I placed the wing next to the fuselage and marked two corresponding places on the fuselage and the wing.  I drilled two holes in both places.  The brass pins were inserted and trial fitted in place.  This took a couple of tries.  I used plastic glue on the contact surfaces but a dab of super glue for each brass rod.  Both lower wings went into place cleanly.  The tail unit was straight forward.  The horizontal tail was glued first followed by the vertical tail. 

 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 3a
FUSELAGE FRONT END WORK:   The main landing gear is from the kit with the addition of fine piano wire rods to enhance strength.  Cabane struts are brass rod covered with gently flattened brass tube.   The tailskid is a piece of gently flattened brass tubing.  Just above it can be seen the tail struts made from brass rod.  The hazing finish on the fuselage is a lightly sanded brushed coat of Vallejo gray primer.   This helps me see any flaws in the putty and joints.
 
 
 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 3b
FUSELAGE FROM THE RIGHT REAR:  Just another view of the work to this point - main landing gear, cabane struts, tailskid, tail underside struts.
 
 
 
 
CAMOUFLAGE PAINTING RESEARCH
This image is taken from 'Project Butterfly Part 3' in the old Cross & Cockade (US) journal, Volume 13, Number 4, published in the winter of 1972 (see also Bibliography.  Project Butterfly as the collaboration E. D. Elman, H. D. Hastings, Bergen Hardesty, and Alan Toelle.  Its purpose was to examine in detail "the French airplane camouflage adopted in the latter part of the war". 

Martenot's Spad 7 S.3190 had to be found so that the correct camouflage pattern could be applied.  On page 171 in Part 2 of Project Butterfly is a listing called Catalog of Camouflage Patterns compiled by the authors that identifies most if not all of the French 5-color patterns used by aircraft type.  Under the Spad 7 is listed Pattern B-2 which included a small sampling of known serial numbers of which S.3079, S.3182, and S.3281 were included.  I have assumed that Martenot's Spad 7 S.3190 falls into that range.

Many but not all of the camouflage patterns can be found in various locations within the 3 part series.  I found Spad 7 Patterns B-1 and B-2 on page 337 of Part 3.  My copy of these historical documents is printed from the disc sold by the current iteration, the League of Aviation Historians of World War 1 at

https://www.overthefront.com/
 
 
 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 4
CAMOUFLAGE PAINTING - FIRST COAT:  Using the B-2 Pattern described above.  The scheme was lightly drawn onto the primed model with an ordinary pencil.  Just another view of the work to this point - main landing gear, cabane struts, tailskid, tail underside struts.  The mixed Vallejo colors I use can be viewed on this page, "French World War 1 5-Color Camouflage Scheme 1917-1918".
 
 
 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 5
CAMOUFLAGE PAINTING - FIRST COAT - SIDE VIEW:  Note the yellow tinge of the underside doping.  Early French varnish over clear doped linen had a light yellow finish. 
 


French 5-Color Name Paints I Used
Dark Green Misterkit # MKFC11
Light Green Misterkit # MKFC12
Beige Misterkit # MKFC10
Chestnut Brown Misterkit # MKFC05
Black 2 Andrea # ANAC26 or ANXC02
CDL (Ecru) 3 Misterkit # MKFC03

NOTES TO THE PAINT TABLE ABOVE

Note 1:  The four principle colors of dark green, light green, beige, and chestnut brown appeared in two finishes - one finish for fabric-covered surfaces (Acellos) and another finish for wood and metal (Ripolin).  These are brand names that acquired general status that defined these paints although there were several paint manufacturers involved in producing for the French government.  The main difference between the two is one of shade, the Acellos on fabric being somewhat lighter with a semi-matt finish because it contained a large amount of reflective aluminum powder.  Ripolin was a lacquer-based product and appeared only slightly darker but with a somewhat shinier surface.  In 1:72 the differences between the two types of color is not really perceptible.  In 1:48 scale, it's 50-50 and depends on the modeller.  In 1:32 scale the two types are noticeable and the modeller will have to consider two sets of colors to be accurate. 

Note 2:  The exception to the Acellos/Ripolin 'rule' above is the color black.  It did not contain any aluminum powder and had a matt finish when applied.  However, since the entire scheme was finished in two coats of varnish, it would appear, along with the other colors (though less reflective), as when satin polyurethane is applied overall.

Note 3:  French Ecru translates to "plain" or "blank", and means the same, for our purposes, as clear doped linen (CDL) which is dope without a colored pigment.  French CDL gives off a soft pale yellowish beige but becomes darker over time.  I believe that the principle source of the 'light yellow' finish are the two final coats of French varnish over the CDL dope.
 
 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTO No. 6
SMALL DETAILS ADDED:  The landing gear rigging was attached, front and rear.  Fine solder wire was used to simulate the bungee shock absorber cords and the end of each axle.  The single Vickers machine gun has kit-supplied PE rear sight, a scratch front post sight, and a small lead foil blast shield under the Vickers' front.  The pilot's access step is made from brass rod.  Two small diameter "wires" were added to the forward vertical fin.  The retractable chin air vent is kit-supplied.  Note the rigging fixtures on the top surface of the bottom wing.   The rudder colors were hand-painted using Andrea ANCX24 Union Blue, Andrea ANXC01 White, and Vallejo VC0947 Red.  The radiator was painted with a mix of semi-gloss black and Vallejo VC0864 with the emphasis on the black.  Details will be "picked' out later.  The exhaust port holes on both sides were drilled out and the exhausts were test fitted for later installation.

 
 
CONSTRUCTION PHOTOS No. 7a and 7b
FUSELAGE DECALS:  The primary source for this model's decals was the AeroMaster 48-576 decal sheet "Italo-French SPAD ACES 1917-1918".  I actually started on the process of making my own "Grim Reaper" decals using the images in Jon Guttman's book, Grim Reapers - French Escadrille 94 in World War I but I found this decal sheet tucked away in my Spad file.  I did make the aircraft serial number. 

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8a
COMPLETED - COMMENT ON WING STRUTS:  As with the cabane struts, the wing struts were made using brass tube and brass rod.  The inboard struts are slightly smaller and have the addition of a horizontal support strut.

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8b
COMPLETED - COMMENT ON TOP WING PLACEMENT:  The top wing was first glued to the cabane struts.  Working from the inside, each pair of inboard wing struts was next glued.  Lastly, the outboard pair of wing struts were glued. 

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8c
COMPLETED - COMMENT ON RIGGING:  In most places, .005 monofilament thread was tied off to PE turnbuckle anchors in my stash.  Otherwise, the simpler method of just looping the thread around the base of the strut or passing it through a hole in the wing was used.  On such a small model the use of turnbuckle anchors is problematic and, for me, doesn't add that much to the overall finish.  In fact, it could look cluttered.   All rigging was painted in Andrea's Union Blue.

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8d
COMPLETED - FINAL TOUCHES:  The last item glued to the model was the windscreen.  Three types were supplied in the kit and I used the "wrap-around" version.  I painted the windscreen frame in French Dark Green and glued it using a clear plastic cement.  The underside decals were added as a last step.

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8e
COMPLETED - OVERALL FINISH:  All of the surfaces of the model were hand-painted.  I overspray the model with a matte polyurethane to smooth this out and seal in the decals. 

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8f

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8g

 
COMPLETED PHOTO No. 8h


------------------------------  FINIS ------------------------------
 

Bibliography:

Bruce, J. M.  Spad 7.C1, Windsock Datafile 8.  Berkhamsted, Herts: Albatros Productions, 1988.

Bruce, J. M. Spad Scouts SVII - SXIII.  Glencoe Models via Osprey Publications.

Conners, John F.  SPAD Fighters in Action.  Carrollton, Texas: Squadron-Signal Publications, 1989.

Davilla, James J. Dr. and Arthur M. Soltan.  French Aircraft of the First World War.  Boulder, CO, Flying Machines Press, 2002.

Elman, H. L., H. D. Hastings, Bergen Hardesty, and Alan D. Toelle.  Project Butterfly - The Standard French Camouflage System of 1918.  Cross & Cockade (US), in three parts:

Part 1, Cross & Cockade Journal (US), Volume 9, Number 1

Part 2, Cross & Cockade Journal (US), Volume 13, Number 2

Part 3, Cross & Cockade Journal (US), Volume 13, Number 4

Guttman, Jon.  SPAD VII Aces of World War I, Osprey Aircraft of the Aces No. 39.  Oxford, UK: Osprey Publications, 2001.

Guttman, Jon.  Grim Reapers - French Escadrille 94 in World War I.  Aeronaut Books, 2016.

Hayez Lt. Colonel (French Air Force Historical Section), translated by H. D. Hastings.  French Escadrilles in World War I.  Cross & Cockade (US), Volume 7, Number 3, pages 205-231.

Lamberton, W. M., Compiler, and E. F. Cheesman, Editor.  Fighter Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War.   Los Angeles, CA: Aero Publishers, 1962.

Velek, Mark.  Spad S.VII C1.  Stasnice, Czech Republic: 4+ Publications, 2004.

 

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