WWI Aviation

WWI Aviation Pictorial History

An Illustrated History of World War 1 Aviation


SPAD S-XIII C1, Adj. Marcel Villar, Escadrille SPA23
SPAD S-XIII C1, Adj. Marcel Villar, Escadrille SPA23
SPAD S-XIII-C1, s/n 15227 Lt. Henry D. Lindsley, 93rd Aero Squadron, 3nd PG i/n 10 circa 1918
SPAD S-XIII-C1, s/n 15227 Lt. Henry D. Lindsley, 93rd Aero Squadron, 3nd PG, 1918


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

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 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 canceled 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 maneuverability 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.