One of the more outlandish attempts to design an aircraft with forward firing capabilities. The gunner/observer sat in a small cabin that was attached in front of the prop of the engine. There were many problems with this design, ranging from lack of communication between crew members, to a safety issue for the observer. Many of these planes were exported to Russia.
The French Air Service replaced the Nieuport 17 with the SPAD S.VII. Although disadvantaged by poor forward and downward visibility from the cockpit, the SPAD S.VII was fast, durable and difficult to shoot down. It was a good performer, flown by nearly all the French aces. However it proved to be less successful in the hands of British, possibly due to the combat tactics employed by the pilots of the Royal Flying Corps. With 18 victories, Irish ace William Cochran-Patrick scored more victories with the SPAD S.VII and SPAD S.XIII than any other ace.
The SPAD S.XI or SPAD 11 was a French two-seat biplane reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War. The SPAD 11 was the work of Louis Béchereau, chief designer of the Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD), who also designed the highly successful SPAD 7 and SPAD 13 single-seat fighter aircraft. It was developed under military specification C2, which called for a two-seat fighter aircraft. As a result of its failure to meet the levels of performance and agility demanded by the C2 specification, the SPAD 11 was used, along with the more successful Salmson 2 and Breguet 14, to replace aging Sopwith 1½ Strutter and Dorand AR reconnaissance aircraft. Persistent problems with the SPAD 11 led to its early replacement by the SPAD S.XVI or SPAD 16 variant.
The SPAD 11 had some resemblance to Béchereau's single-seat fighters and employed much the same method of simple construction. Longer and heavier than the fighters, the SPAD 11's lower wings were designed with cut-outs to improve the observer's view of the ground. The aircraft was armed with a single 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun firing forward and a single Lewis machine gun of the same calibre on a flexible mount for the observer. Testing of the SPAD 11 showed a poor performance, said to be little better than that of the SPAD A.2 of 1915 and it was rejected as a C2 class fighter aircraft, being reclassified as an A2 reconnaissance aircraft.
Further problems were encountered with the SPAD 11's Hispano-Suiza 8B engine. Some aircraft were fitted with a 12 cylinder Renault engine, but this lowered the aircraft's poor performance yet more. Handling problems were encountered, including tail-heaviness, making the aircraft tiring to fly, and a propensity to stall. In spite of these flaws, the SPAD was still superior to the Sopwiths and Dorands, and 12 squadrons were fully equipped with SPAD 11s. Some 1,000 SPAD 11s were built, most of which were out of service by the autumn of 1918, generally replaced by the SPAD S.XVI.
Three Belgian squadrons used the SPAD 11 and two from the United States. The SPAD 11 was unpopular in American service, as in French, and so much so that one of the two squadrons issued with SPADs replaced them with Sopwith 1½ Strutters. Uruguay purchased a small number of aircraft after the war and some examples are known to have been used by Russia and Japan.
A single SPAD 11 was modified as a night-fighter, fitted with a searchlight on a framework mounted ahead of the airscrew, under the Cn2 specification.
The first two-seater to be designed by Louis Bechereau, creator of the Spad fighters, was the Spad VIII, although this did not proceed beyond the design stage. Its subsequent development, however, led to the Spad XI, which appeared in September 1916. Externally it resembled the Spad VII single-seater, except that the two-bay wings had slight stagger and sweepback to balance the longer fuselage with its additional cockpit.
The Spad XIA.2 went into service in 1917, but its early production was affected by teething troubles with the reduction gear of its 235 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine. It was armed with a single forward-firing synchronised Vickers gun, offset to starboard, in front of the pilot, while one or two Lewis guns could be installed on the ring mounting in the rear cockpit. A light bomb load of about 70kg. (154 lb) could be carried under the lower wings. Although sensitive on the controls, the Spad XI could have been a useful aircraft under the right conditions; unfortunately it was easily affected by uneven distribution of loads such as ammunition, cameras, photograpic flares or bombs, and acquired a reputation for poor controllability. The same factor also affected its climbing powers, for in anything but a shallow climb the engine readily stalled. In 'clean' condition the Spad XI could climb to 4,000m (13,123 ft) in 17 1/2 minutes. At least one machine was fitted with a 220 h.p. direct-drive Renault engine, but the Hispano remained standard. Despite its shortcomings, the Spad XI served with at least fifteen escadrilles of the French Aviation Militaire and three Belgian escadrilles during 1917 and early 1918; the Belgian Spads remained in service until the armistice.
The SPAD XII was identifiable from the outside by it's forward wing stagger, rounded ends on the mainplanes. The aircraft was not popular with the less skilled pilots due to it's demanding handling chararistics. The 37 mm cannon was also not suited for pilots that were not exceptional marksmen, it was a one shot weapon that filled the cabin with smoke, needed to be reloaded after each shot while in flight. Georges Guynemer and René Fonck both scored several victories while piloting the SPAD XII.
Equipped with twin machine guns and a larger engine, the SPAD S.XIII was based upon the smaller SPAD S.VII. Built in large numbers, it was fast and powerful but difficult to fly. The SPAD S.XIII was flown by many of the famous aces including Georges Guynemer, Rene Fonck, and also by Italian ace Francesco Baracca. Aces of the United States Army Air Service who flew the Spad XIII include and Eddie Rickenbacker, (America's leading ace with 26 confirmed victories) and Frank Luke (18 victories).
Irish ace William Cochran-Patrick scored more victories with the SPAD S.VII and SPAD S.XIII than any other ace.
The SPAD S.XIII was a French biplane fighter aircraft of World War I, developed by Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD) from the earlier highly successful SPAD S.VII. It was one of the most capable fighters of the war, and one of the most-produced, with 8,472 built and orders for around 10,000 more cancelled at the Armistice.
The S.VII had entered service in September of 1916, but by early 1917 it had been surpassed by the latest German fighters, leading French flying ace, Georges Guynemer to lobby for an improved version. SPAD designer Louis Béchereau initially produced the cannon-armed S.XII, which had limited success, and finally the S.XIII.
The S.XIII differed from its predecessor by incorporating a number of aerodynamic and other refinements, including larger wings and rudder, a more powerful Hispano-Suiza 8B engine fitted with reduction gearing, driving a larger "right-hand" propeller, and a second 0.303 Vickers machine gun for added firepower. The sum of these improvements was a notable improvement in flight and combat performance. It was faster than its main contemporaries, the British Sopwith Camel and the German Fokker D.VII, and was renowned for its ruggedness and strength in a dive. The manoeuvrability of the type was however relatively poor, especially at low speeds. A steep gliding angle and a very sharp stall made it a difficult aircraft for novice pilots to land safely.
It first flew on April 4, 1917, and the following month was already being delivered to the French Air Service. Other Allied forces were quick to adopt the new fighter as well, and nearly half of the 893 purchased for the United States Army Air Service were still in service in 1920. It was also exported to Japan, Poland, and Czechoslovakia after the war.
The SPAD S.XIV was a single-seat French biplane seaplane fighter aircraft built by Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD) and flown by the French Navy during World War I. The SPAD XIV was a development of the SPAD XII. It was powered by a 149 kW (200hp) Hispano-Suiza 8 Bc engine. The S.XIV was similarly armed with the 37 mm cannon developed by SAMC for which 12 shots were carried. The cannon fired through the propellor shaft, necessitating the use of a geared Hispano-Suiza aviation engine to mount the gun. The SPAD XIV also carried a single 0.303 inch (7.7 mm) Vickers machine gun mounted on the starboard side of the nose. Fourty were constructed and flew in the French Navy during 1918.