SPAD SA.2 Images
by Neil Crawford

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How to build a 1/72 SPAD A2 (article from 1987)

While leafing through an old number of the Canadian IPMS magazine "Random Thoughts" I found an article on building a SPAD A2. As a long term SPAD enthusiast I couldn't resist a challenge like that ,so I dug out the required kits and reference material and started work.The article was written by a chap called Tim Lamming who seems to be more of a historian than a modeller ,I didn't like some of his ideas so this is based on Tim Lammings inspiration and my way of building. Starting with the wings Tim suggested using Avro 504 wings cut and glued together and then reshaped. This is quite possible because the Avro wings have the right chord and thinness, but I thought something should be done about getting the correct number of ribs. Cut the wings to shape and make a thin centre section for the top wing, this has to be thinner in profile than the rest of the wing. Glue the three sections of the top wing together with as good a join as possible (this is difficult because the wing section should be really thin) then make a wing skin from .05 plasticard by scoring on the backside with a fine pencil and glue in place. Thats easier said than done! I always have difficulty skinning with plasticard because I invariably use too much liquid cement (mekpak) which melts the thin plastic. This can be fixed with careful puttying, I use Tippex typing correction fluid for fine work it dries instantly to a white smooth finish and adheres well to polystyrene, you can even use the solvent as liquid cement! Glueing skinning with Cyan-acrylat super glue works much better. The wing cut-outs and ailerons (top wing only) should be done at this stage. The fuselage can be made from a SPAD VII filed to shape, but as the SPAD A2 is square in section an alternative would be to glue four pieces of flat plasicard together and make a turtleback from milliput or scrap plastic and then skin it with plasticard. The cockpit should be completed at this stage (before you glue the sides together!). I based the cockpit on the SPAD VII, the main features of early SPADs are the the wickerwork seat bottom, the map on rollers and the shelf with about three instruments. The seat bottom can be made by drilling a small square of .05 plasticard full of tiny holes and then painting it half matt straw brown, people don't believe you can do this and usually ask if its photo etched. Actually it's quite easy if you can find a 0.5mm drill and fix it in an old paintbrush handle. Drill first before you cut out the shape. Make the back from plasticard , and glue together carefully ,the result looks very convincing. Instruments are made as described in Harry Woodmans book "How to make scale model aircraft" (THE book in my opinion!) Thus:
  1. Paint (white) plasticard gloss black and scratch out a tiny circle of dots with a line to represent the needle in the middle.
  2. Cut out the circle of plastic as close as possible
  3. Make a ring of fine brass wire and glue it on the circle with clear varnish so as the dots just show inside the ring.
  4. Paint the exterior with "brass" paint.
The result is slightly large for 1/72 but it gives a good impression. Make the engine bulkhead from thick plasticard with a carefully drilled hole for the engine. The side cowlings and fuel tank are made by bending plasticard in boiling water, cooling in cold water and glueing to a plasticard backing or just glueing over a former on the fuselage side. The radiators are in the side cowlings so a grill should be made of strue. I used the engine from a Sopwith Pup and the propellor from a SPAD VII.The turtle- back should be representated on top of the fuselage,preferably by skinning with plasticard scored on the inside.I also added a couple of inspection panels of very thin plasticard glued on behond the cockpit. I think they would have looked better if I had cut them out from decals. The front pulpit can be made from the fuselage of a Fokker DrI with the cockpit opening facing rearward. I have a mean streak and didn't want to waste a Fokker so I made 4 sides and a backpiece separately. The top side was most difficult having a rather complex shape, I cut and sandpapered it to shape from thick plasticard.The side pieces were bent in hot water and cooled, as was the bottom. Glueing together is easy if care has been taken in measuring and getting the correct amount of bend in the panels. The nose of the pulpit is filled and finished with milliput. Before I glued the pulpit together I made a guess at an interior consisting of spare magazines for the Lewis gun,map-case, some framework and a seat. A hole was drilled in the backpiece for the propellor boss.

The tailplane and rudder can be cut from plasticard and covered with thin plasticard scored on the inside. Assembly is tricky because it's important to get everything true, I have'nt a good system for this except patience and fairly slow settin glue! Making a jig might be worthwhile. Lot's of small details can be added from strue, for instance the grill in front of the propellor and the typical SPAD aileron mechanism on the lower wing. Struts can be made by heating and pulling airfoil shaped strue, but thicker struts have to be sanded down from plasticard. The undercarriage has a special attachment for the pulpit which gives the main landing legs a difficult shape. I drew the shape on 1mm plasticard cut it out in one piece and then spent an evening filing and sanding to shape. Wheels are from a Sopwith Pup. I usually paint biplanes early on in the assembly stage, on the SPAD you are more or less forced to because it ends up very fragile and the less work done after assembly the better.

There are a few painting schemes possible, a standard french or a russian scheme is easiest and most typical, french planes were clear doped giving a pale straw finish, the russians used a different kind of cloth which started white and turned light grey pretty quickly. Russian roundels varied considerably, I reccomend the series of articles in Aifix magazine during 1979 on Imperial Russian and early Soviet markings. There is also a photograph of a french machine with a girl's name on the side in Air International xxxx 1978, which should be quite easy.

Other references are Harleyfords "Fighter Aircraft of the 1914- 1918 War" and Munson's "Fighters 1914-1919" .

Since I wrote this in 1987, a lot has happened, there is now a Windsock Minidatafile available, and a good article in WW1 Aero. There are lots of better ways to do things nowadays, but this was how it was done in the eighties.

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