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  Spad XIII C1

In spite of a very successful prewar business, thanks to its chief designer Louis Béchereau, the SPAD (Société pour les Avions Déperdussin) Company had to fold up after serious financial problems.

The Company was taken over by Louis Blériot in 1914. The new owner, feeling that he should take advantage of SPAD reputation, managed to twist the new company name into: Société pour l'Aviation et ses dérivés, thus retaining the original SPAD initials.

The SPAD design was not particularly innovative compared to aeroplanes such as the Fokker DVII. Its sturdiness was due to a well-engineered wooden fusleage although this was at the expense of an increase in weight.

The design was aerodynamically sound, with its rounded fuselage and high aspect ratio wings, and it was propelled by the rather temperamental 220 HP Hispano-Suiza geared engine. Its main asset was a very good climbing performance, far superior to its British and German counter parts but it did not handle as well as pilots expected. As a matter of fact the SPAD was certainly no easy aircraft, especially in the low speed range where its thin airfoil section often resulted in brutal stalls. On the other hand it could withstand the stress of dives above 280 MPH followed by steep climbs. The aircraft was at ease in vertical manoeuvres rather than tight turns and it gained superiority over the enemy until the arrival of the Fokker DVII. On top of this the SPAD was a very stable firing platform and could take its share of punishment without too many problems. The one-piece twin-spar upper wing has no dihedral, while the lower is built in two parts and also has no dihedral.The top has a slightly wider chord than the lower, the leading edges of all wings are covered with plywood and the wire tailing edge gives the so-called scalloped effect. The fuselage is also made out of wood with numerous metal fittings. The four longerons are tightened by wires with top and bottom rounded deckings.

The langing gear legs are made of laminated poplar with the usual bungee cord system. The engine coolant flows through the front radiator, with maually operated shutters to adjust the water temperature. The main fuel tank is located at the bottom of the fuselage and has an emergency release system. Two auxillary tanks are located in the top wing centre section, immediately behind the water tank. The oil tank sits in the cockpit next to the pilot's seat. The propeller was either designed by GALLIA or Marcel Bloch, later to become known as Marcel Dassault.

The first flight was performed by French Ace René DORME on April 4 1917 and from the beginning it was clear the aeroplane would be a success. The total production amounted to more than 8000 and 81 French and Allied Squadrons flew the type before the end of WWI.

 The Spad XIII # 4377

SPAD XIII C 1 #4377 is the oldest known survivor. Built in February 1918 by Société KELLNER Frères Constructeurs at 185 Rue de Versailles, Billancourt, Seine, near Paris, France. The well worn aircraft was recovered from an attic by Jean Salis in the 1970s.

Restoration work started slowly in 1988 and gained pace when the aircraft was donated to the Memorial Flight Association in 199O.

The first post restoration flight took place on the 3rd of May 1991. The aeroplane wore the colours of Charles Henri DOLAN last survivor of the Escadrille Lafayette.

10 years after her first reborn, the Spad XIII has returned in our workshop for a complete overhaul (engine, airframe, new fabric and radiator) and an upgrade to a higher standard of restoration.

Now she's wearing the colours of brigadier Trémeau, SPA 83 "Dragon", January 1918.

This airplane is the oldest airframe known and the only original in flying condition.

 The restoration

Coming soon a profile by Vincent Dhorne

 Photo Album

More photos

 The cockpit

Click on the picture to discover the cockpit in detail


The last overhaul has been a unique occasion to show the hidden parts of a Spad XIII.

- Engine Hispano-Suiza 220 hp and accessories .

More details



Spad XIII : Take off, flight, landing. June 2003 (1min45s, 4.90Mo)

Spad & SE5 engine run : a first since WWI. January 2003 (40s, 1.1Mo)


Length: 6.25 m
Wing Span: 8.08 m
Surface: 20 m²
Weight: 954 kg
Engine: Hispano-Suiza of 220 hp
Speed: min. 105 km/h
max. 220 km/h
Endurance: 2 h 30
Crew: 1
Armament: 2 guns Vickers, calibre 303 (7.65mm)