SPAD VII

  • A French-designed, single-seater fighter biplane manufactured by Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (Spad) during the First World War
  • Known for its sturdiness, reliability and speed, it was an excellent alternative to the Nieuport
  • Flown by many famous aces, including Georges Guynemer, Francesco Baracca and Alexander Pentland
  • Flown by Canadian Major A. D. Carter (highest-scoring Royal Flying Corps Spad pilot) in twelve of his twenty-two victories
Period
First World War (1914-1918)
Uses
Fighter
First Flight
April 1916
Display Status
In Storage Wing.

Background History

The French SPAD was a success from its introduction. Early versions climbed slowly, but a more powerful engine and increased wing-area improved performance in the subsequent SPAD VII. SPADs serving in the air forces of Belgium, Britain, Italy, and Russia were built in Britain and Russia. SPADs also went to the United States, Peru, Portugal, Brazil, Greece, Rumania, Siam (now Thailand), and Yugoslavia. SPAD VII production totalled 3 825 aircraft, with many continuing to fly well after First World War.

The SPAD was the aircraft flown by nearly all the French aces. Its strength and thin wings resulted in good diving ability which French pilots used to advantage in their fighting style. Relatively poor results achieved by SPAD VIIs in British hands may have been due to a mismatch between the aircraft’s flying characteristics and the close-combat aerobatic tactics favoured by the Royal Flying Corps. A Canadian, Major A.D. Carter, was the highest scoring Royal Flying Corps SPAD pilot with twelve victories in this type.

Museum Example

Registration #
B9913 (RFC)
Manufacturer
Mann, Egerton & Company, Great Britain
Manufacture Date
1917
Construction #
103
Acquisition Date
1965
Provenance
Purchase
Museum Catalogue #
1967.0694

The Museum's Spad was built in England in 1917 by Mann Egerton and Company Limited. Its British service history is unknown, but in 1918 it was transferred to the United States for use in the Army Air Service. Colonel J. B. Jarret, who operated a museum at the Steel Pier in Atlantic City, obtained the Spad in 1932 from aviation junk dealer Arrigo Balboni of California. Balboni claimed that the aircraft had been featured in the motion picture Wings (1927).

From 1949 until 1964, the Spad passed between the hands of several private owners. From 1964 onward, it was displayed and flown at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, until this Museum purchased it in 1965. The Museum has restored the Spad on numerous occasions: little of the original woodwork remains.

Technical Specifications

 

Wing Span 7.8 m (25 ft 7 7/8 in)
Length 6.1 m (20 ft)
Height 2.3 m (7 ft 6 1/2 in)
Weight, Empty 500 kg (1,102 lb)
Weight, Gross 705 kg (1,554 lb)
Cruising Speed Unknown
Max Speed 193 km/h (120 mph)
Rate of Climb 2,000 m (6,560 ft) / 4.7 min
Service Ceiling 6,550 m (21,500 ft)
Range 1.5 hours (Endurance)
Power Plant one Hispano Suiza 8Ab, 180 hp, V-8 engine