By Narayan Sengupta
Let's start with photos of the fantastic Spad VII fighter. It's perhaps best known as the mount of Georges Guynemer. The Spad VII had a 150-horsepower Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine and a fixed nose-mounted 7.7mm Vickers ma-chinegun synchronized to fire through the arc of the propeller. With this type, the company got their fighter plane design right. From the cockpit back, the plane evoked the earlier SA C2. On the other hand, the propeller was in front of the pilot, just where it should be. The 150-horsepower engine endowed the plane with a 125 mile per hour top speed that made it a screamer for its day. Its weakness was in maneuverability; several of its German opponents could out-turn the Spad. However, the VII was structurally strong and fast, and a pilot flying one could often choose to power dive his way out of trouble. It was later evolved into th e Spad XIII (further below).
First, photos of the Spad VII:
By Narayan Sengupta
Perhaps World War I's finest all-around fighter. It was the mount of top aces like Rene Fonck, Eddie Rickenbacker and many more.
World War I aircraft such as the Fokker Dr.I, Sopwith Camel and Nieuport 11 have overshadowed the elegant Spad XIII. The incredibly underrated fighter was strong, hard-hitting, fast and produced in overwhelming num-bers. The powerful new Hispano-Suiza 200 horsepower V-8 engines allowed the XIII to carry two Vickers guns instead of just one as on the VII. Later Spad XIIIs had a 220-horsepower engine and then an even more power-ful 235-horsepower Hispano-Suiza 8BEc-engine.
Even early 200-horsepower models were significantly faster than their peers were. Later 235-horsepower models managed 139 mph in level flight, nearly twice the speed of 1914’s planes. It could power-dive past 200 mph making its pilots about the fastest men in history who could live to tell the tale. It had a 22,000-foot ceiling and could attain 13,000 feet in 12 minutes and 20 seconds. It and the British S.E. 5a were the fastest mass-produced fighters of WWI.
In contrast, its main rival, the early Fokker D.VII, had Mercedes 160-horsepower engines good for 117 mph and a 19,600-foot ceiling. It needed 19 minutes and 30 seconds to reach 13,000 feet. Later 185-horsepower engines permitted climbs to 20,000 feet in less than 20 minutes though top speed was only 120 mph. The French built about 8,470 Spad XIIIs plus 5,600 Spad VIIs versus about 320 Fokker Dr.I aircraft and 1,700 D.VIIs.