Ewan visited the VAFM today, and discovered their aircraft building and maintenance team hard at work replicating a Spad XII. They started in 2006 with a welded steel-tube frame (the original was made of wood). They have to make some minor concessions to modern technology – like brakes – to be able to fly their replicas from modern airports. But it’ll look pretty much like the real thing when they’re done.
So what were Spads? From somebody who ought to know – Eddie Rickenbacker:
I hurried to the field. There they were, three beauties. [The Spads.] They were more impressive by far than any other airplane, any other automobile, any other piece of equipment I had ever seen. This new Spad would mean the difference between life and death. With it, a little luck and continuing aid from above, perhaps I could attain fame in the skies and join the great aces of the war – Lufbery, Rene Fonck; Billy Bishop, the Canadian, even the great Red Baron himself, Manfred von Richthofen. Well, at least I could dream.
The Spad was the ultimate aircraft of the war in which aviation was developed….
The British produced several excellent planes, among them the SE-5 and the Sopwith Camel, but I had no personal experience with them. The best ship I flew in was the Spad, built by the Societe pour Aviation et ses Derives, whence it took its name. The final Spad could do 130 miles an hour, climb to 22,000 feet and stay together no matter what maneuvers you put it through.
- Edward V. Rickenbacker, Rickenbacker: An Autobiography(Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall Inc., 1967), 137, 138