SEARCH FINESCALE.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

FINISHED! - SPAD XIII 1/32 Mission-Ready....

2275 views
47 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
FINISHED! - SPAD XIII 1/32 Mission-Ready....
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 6:52 PM

Just started on my latest WW1 project, with my all-time favorite Hobbycraft 1/32 SPAD XIII to be done up in the markings of 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.' This a/c was acquired by the museum after their 'first choice'---that flown by leading ace Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker---was accidentally destroyed in a fire while being displayed in the Midwest. Smith IV was a fortunate second bid, being nearly complete...but she suffered quite a bit over the years in periodic storage and semi-neglect, with her canvas rotting away to a significant degree. [It is worthwhile to recall that these a/c were originally designed to last for months in combat, not for decades in storage!]

I first 'met' (and fell hopelessly in love with) Smith IV when she was still a battered and tattered hulk at the Silver Hill storage facility in the 1980s...and was tremendously excited when the docent leading our tour 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.]

 (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)

Some years after that original visit, I built a super-detailed Revell 1/28 version as my first major project with the newly-discovered magic of home-printed decals. That bird was subsequently lost to the whimsical misfortunes of cruel fate...but I knew I'd build another eventually, content to bide my time in the near-certainty that someone, somewhere, would come out with an excellent aftermarket set of markings for what is perhaps the most well-known original SPAD XIII still in existence.

[Cue the crickets chirping....]

So it's back to MS-Paint and my faithful HP inkjet...this time with somewhat more complete information from the World-Wide Web (and following several rounds of correspondence over the years with the patient and very helpful folks at the Smithsonian). I decided to go a bit smaller this time, with Hobbycraft's really excellent 1/32 offering. It's what the automotive folks would call a 'curbside' model---no engine to have to deal with---but otherwise quite petite and well-detailed, and an excellent basis for adding more stuff.

Beyond simple detailing, two basic modifications to the kit will be required, both relatively minor.

First, Brooks' a/c as she survives has 'mismatched' wings, most likely indicating that (at least) one set or the other was replaced in service---a very common occurrence. The upper wing is the later 'squared off' SPAD wingtip design that was implemented at the factory to increase handling by adding wing area. The lower wings are the original 'rounded' style---to which the French retro-fitted a field-modification of 'pocket' extensions made of formed plywood, to achieve nearly the same profile as the updated components. These extensions were basically laced right to the tips of the earlier wings. [The good news is that, since the kit's wings are the later 'squared' style, only the lower wings will have to be modified. No control surfaces to work around. The better news: Tom's Modelworks has produced a set of photo-etched extensions, complete with scale-sized templates included.]

The second major deviation is a matter of 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 they're relatively easy to scratchbuild (...he says, having done it once before in 1/28).

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

And some of the the 'stuff': Eduard's 1/32 p-e set (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:

And my real 'treasure chest'---the 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:

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

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

Thanks for looking in.

 

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Sunday, September 30, 2018 9:32 PM

The early-style SPAD wing design wasn't just curved instead of square: it actually extended out a bit farther in span, so to 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 in 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 matching that of the wings. The wing was 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 lower wing 'pocket before folding and shaping to the wing:

And here's a composite showing the sequence:

And a closeup showing the 'pocket' in place. I toyed with the idea of drilling out the photo-etch piece and 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.

Not a bad start. Next up is cockpit detailing.

 

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    April, 2015
Posted by Mopar Madness on Sunday, September 30, 2018 9:52 PM

I really like seeing these older kits come to life by the hands of skilled modelers. The details look great! 

Chad

God, Family, Models...

At the plate: 1/48 GWH Fw 189 A-1 Nachtjager

On deck: 1/48 Bronco IF-17

In the hole: Who knows!  

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Sunday, September 30, 2018 10:20 PM

Mopar Madness

I really like seeing these older kits come to life by the hands of skilled modelers. The details look great! 

Thanks!

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Tuesday, October 02, 2018 5:33 PM

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---very often---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.

 

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.

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

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

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

Next up: flight instruments.

 

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    April, 2015
Posted by Mopar Madness on Tuesday, October 02, 2018 6:58 PM

Excellent attention to detail! I love the map in the map holder and the compass on the port side.

Chad

God, Family, Models...

At the plate: 1/48 GWH Fw 189 A-1 Nachtjager

On deck: 1/48 Bronco IF-17

In the hole: Who knows!  

  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Northern California
Posted by jeaton01 on Tuesday, October 02, 2018 11:50 PM

Nice detail work, Greg.

John

To see build logs of my models, go here: http://goldeneramodel.com/mymodels/mymodels.htm

  

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, October 03, 2018 7:18 AM

jeaton01

Nice detail work, Greg.

 

Thank you, John.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Cincinnati, Ohio
Posted by ridleusmc on Thursday, October 04, 2018 1:29 AM

gregbale

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

I'd say it is!  Great Work!

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Thursday, October 04, 2018 7:39 AM

ridleusmc

 

 
gregbale

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

 

 

I'd say it is!  Great Work!

 

Thanks, Chris!

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Brisbane Australia
Posted by ChrisJH666 on Friday, October 05, 2018 4:18 PM

A work of art, sir! Looking forward to the rest of this one

In the queue: 1/48 Beech Staggerwing (RAAF), Vultee Vengeance (RAAF), Spitfire Vb (Malta), Spitfire VIII x2 (RAAF), P39 x2 (RAAF), P43 Lancer (RAAF), Martin Baltimore (Malta?), Martin Maryland (Malta), Typhoon NF1b, Hellcat x2 (FAA)

 

Chris

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, October 06, 2018 10:28 AM

Mopar Madness

Excellent attention to detail! I love the map in the map holder and the compass on the port side.

 
Thanks, Chad!
I must admit, the map is my second-favorite feature...right after the little wooden mallet on the left floor frame, that many SPADs carried for 'fine adjustments' in case of ammo jams in the machine guns.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, October 06, 2018 11:03 AM

Thanks, Chris.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Saturday, October 06, 2018 10:57 PM

Fabulous work so far!

Did you shrink a map you found online in Photoshop and print it out? I ask because that's what I ended up doing for a little diorama I did with my TBM-3.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4401/23528149408_3b5487bb37_h.jpg

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4434/37350073152_e377afaaac_h.jpg

In any case your work deserves many kudos and I'm sure the finish will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Mike

"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Sunday, October 07, 2018 7:33 AM

1943Mike

Fabulous work so far!

Did you shrink a map you found online in Photoshop and print it out? I ask because that's what I ended up doing for a little diorama I did with my TBM-3.

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4401/23528149408_3b5487bb37_h.jpg

https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4434/37350073152_e377afaaac_h.jpg

In any case your work deserves many kudos and I'm sure the finish will be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

 

Nothing as advanced as Photoshop: I 'tweak' images (if necessary) in basic old MS-Paint, then resize 'em in OpenOffice. Works perfectly.
 
(I also have a stash of old mail-order map catalogs, that I've gotten a lot of mileage from over the years, simply snipping out the pictures as needed. Most of the reference images are perfect size for 'scale'---and the thin paper most were printed on is much truer to scale than regular printer paper, as well!)
 
I appreciate the kind words...and nice work on the TBM!

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Wednesday, October 10, 2018 10:16 PM

Finishing off the cockpit and interior.

Next up should be guns and landing gear.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Sunday, October 14, 2018 5:56 PM

 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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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

 

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    December, 2010
  • From: Salem, Oregon
Posted by 1943Mike on Monday, October 15, 2018 12:09 AM

Wow! You're really going to town on this bipe! Amazing work so far.

Mike

"Le temps est un grand maître, mais malheureusement, il tue tous ses élèves."

Hector Berlioz

  • Member since
    November, 2008
  • From: Central Florida
Posted by plasticjunkie on Monday, October 15, 2018 9:13 AM

Simply amazing attention to details. Awesome build going on.

 GIFMaker.org_jy_Ayj_O

 

 

Too many models to build, not enough time in a lifetime!!

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Monday, October 15, 2018 12:02 PM

Thanks, guys.

Until Wingnuts Wings (or somebody else) takes pity on the modeling world and brings us a spiffy kit, it's a DIY situation. As long as the photos are there, we can do the details.

 

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Brisbane Australia
Posted by ChrisJH666 on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 2:51 PM

Amazing build Greg. Coming on really well

In the queue: 1/48 Beech Staggerwing (RAAF), Vultee Vengeance (RAAF), Spitfire Vb (Malta), Spitfire VIII x2 (RAAF), P39 x2 (RAAF), P43 Lancer (RAAF), Martin Baltimore (Malta?), Martin Maryland (Malta), Typhoon NF1b, Hellcat x2 (FAA)

 

Chris

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Tuesday, October 16, 2018 5:04 PM

ChrisJH666

Amazing build Greg. Coming on really well

Thanks, Chris.

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, October 20, 2018 7:24 PM

 

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' for the flying wires adjacent to the fuselage, where they'd be difficult to position (neatly) later; then added a few P-E and scratchbuilt details:

 

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 mix for an assortment of early-aviation services and types.

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

More anon....

 

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    May, 2017
  • From: Denver, Colorado
Posted by MrStecks on Saturday, October 20, 2018 9:02 PM

Holy cow!  Your attention to detail as well as your scratch-building chops, really leave me in awe.
I'm loving this WIP!

Cheers,
Mark


On the bench: Roden 1/144 Douglas C-47 Skytrain

In the queue: Revel-Monogram  1/48 B-25J Mitchell

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Thursday, October 25, 2018 8:26 PM

MrStecks

Holy cow!  Your attention to detail as well as your scratch-building chops, really leave me in awe.
I'm loving this WIP!

Cheers,
Mark

Thanks, Mark! I appreciate the kind words.

Moving steadily on, most of the paint ('dope') is now 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.

Next up will be 'fun with decals.'Hmm

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    November, 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Thursday, October 25, 2018 9:15 PM

My brain "knows" this is styrene, but all my eye sees is wood, doped fabric and metal.

Which in my mind's eye brings back memories of flightlines, the sun-hot tarmac, the smell of both raw and burnt high-octane avgas and the like. 

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Thursday, October 25, 2018 9:37 PM

CapnMac82

My brain "knows" this is styrene, but all my eye sees is wood, doped fabric and metal.

Which in my mind's eye brings back memories of flightlines, the sun-hot tarmac, the smell of both raw and burnt high-octane avgas and the like. 

Many thanks!

On the subject of 'sense memories,' the one I always recall is from an old newsreel interview with a WW1 RFC pilot I saw as a teenager. The ex-pilot, then probaby in his '60s or '70s, still gave a mischievous grin as he described seeing 'geysers of shredded fabric' (that phrase has always stuck in my memory) as the Boche bullets fired from behind marched along his fuselage. Talk about a pucker-inducing moment!

 

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    January, 2004
  • From: Brisbane Australia
Posted by ChrisJH666 on Friday, October 26, 2018 2:50 PM

It's knowing why a particular colour is the way it is that can make all the difference. Very impressive. Getting rather jealous of some of these biplane models we are seeing, and this one tops the list Bow Down

In the queue: 1/48 Beech Staggerwing (RAAF), Vultee Vengeance (RAAF), Spitfire Vb (Malta), Spitfire VIII x2 (RAAF), P39 x2 (RAAF), P43 Lancer (RAAF), Martin Baltimore (Malta?), Martin Maryland (Malta), Typhoon NF1b, Hellcat x2 (FAA)

 

Chris

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Towson MD
Posted by gregbale on Saturday, October 27, 2018 6:33 PM

Thanks, Chris!

ChrisJH666

It's knowing why a particular colour is the way it is that can make all the difference.

Those little details make it fun if you figure them out before you build; my more usual pattern seems to be to find them out after I've finished a project...which only leads to titanic frustration. Wink

Greg

 George Lewis:

"Every time you correct me on my grammar I love you a little fewer."

 

"

  • Member since
    March, 2015
  • From: Streetsboro, Ohio
Posted by Toshi on Sunday, October 28, 2018 1:00 PM

A fantastic WIP!  Great job sir!

Your friend, Toshi

On The Bench: Revell 1/48 B-25 Mitchell

 

Married to the most caring, loving, understanding, and beautiful wife in the world.  Mrs. Toshi

 

 

JOIN OUR COMMUNITY!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

SEARCH FORUMS

FREE NEWSLETTER
By signing up you may also receive reader surveys and occasional special offers. We do not sell, rent or trade our email lists. View our Privacy Policy.