Hobbycraft 1/32 Spad XIII International
A multi-part Online build
Model, Text and Photos by: Ken Zelnick
My first thought upon opening the box was, "Wow!" To one used to building "low end" kits in 1/48, the crisp, flash-free parts were a welcome surprise, and the sheer size of this model opens new vistas in detailing.
The kit consists of three sprues containing 65 parts molded in gray styrene, plus the separate wings and two windshields. The parts are well molded with crisp details and no sinkholes and no flash to speak of. Laying the fuselage and wings on a plan view indicates the size and shape to be quite close. The kit includes color schemes and decals for two options - Capt. Georges Guynemer of France, and Maj. Francesco Baracca of Italy. Both of these planes were the earlier version that had rounded wingtips. The wings in the kit are modeled after the later square variety, so will have to be reshaped in order to be correct for the decals included. One would expect it to be easier to round the squared tips than it would be to square off rounded tips. However, plan views show the rounded wings to be slightly longer in span, so it will be necessary to lengthen the top wing by approximately 3 mm at each end and the bottom wing by approximately 4mm at each end. The square wings should work well should the modeler choose a different, later scheme. In my opinion, the ribs are somewhat overdone, but it should be possible to reduce this with some wet/dry sandpaper without destroying the thin, nicely done scalloped trailing edge.
The instructions consist of three pages of line drawings, plus a rigging diagram. There is also a table of required colors with either FS or Methuen numbers, and lists of stock numbers for Floquil/Polly Scale, Humbrol, and Testors Model Master paints. The actual color schemes are shown on the bottom of the box, and cockpit colors are listed on the instruction sheet.
The first step was to wash all parts with lukewarm water and dish soap. Once the parts were rinsed and dry, painting could begin. I chose Testors Model Master Wood, drybrushed with some old Tamiya Brown acrylic to simulate wood grain on the wood cockpit components. The cockpit components go together nicely except that the joystick seems to be too long, as determined by dry-fitting the assembled cockpit into the fuselage and attempting to install the instrument deck.
The joystick is molded in one piece as a stick with a "mechanism" at the bottom, so I chose to cut the stick from the mechanism, shorten the stick by approximately 3 mm, and reattaching it with CA glue at an appropriate angle to match the flight controls that I plan to offset. While this causes the stick to be misaligned from the mechanism, it was the easiest thing to do, since the mechanism does not lend itself well to attaching to the cockpit floor in any but the "normal" position. In retrospect, I probably should have shortened the mechanism as well, because now it looks disproportionately large compared to the stick.
The seat is incorrectly shaped when compared to the documentation I have available, and interferes with the installation of the instrument deck. This gave me the option of changing the shape of the hole in the instrument deck or modifying the seat. Since the instrument deck looks more correct, I decided to modify the seat by cutting off the top of the seat back. This allowed the instrument deck to set correctly. I simulated a seat cushion with a thin slice of styrofoam packing "peanut" cut to shape and coated with white glue to fill in the holes in the foam. Holes were then poked down into the foam to simulate the buttons in the cushion. Seat belts were fashioned from masking tape, with buckles fashioned from heavy aluminum foil and bits of sprue.
The pipe coming out of the oil tank to the right of the seat dead-ended in the middle of nowhere, so I added a piece of stretched sprue running forward into the engine compartment. Pictures show an additional pipe running forward to an object possibly located at the aft end of the engine. I simulated this pipe with a piece of copper wire.
The pictures showed it, so I simply had to add a jam hammer fashioned from bits of sprue. This is located between the seat supports forward of the seat and control stick.
I added control cables for the stick and rudder, made from 30 ga. beading wire. To give them support at the aft end, I added a piece of sheet styrene at the aft end of the seat supports. Since this will be out of sight, I terminated the wires at that point.
The instruments supplied with the kit are rather thin, so I added slices of sprue to the back sides to give them some dimension, even though this will be mostly hidden. I painted them with Testors Model Master Gun Metal. To simulate instrument faces, I printed some pictures of actual instrument faces and reduced them on a copier. I then cut them out and attached them to the instruments. I placed a drop of Future floor finish on them to simulate the glass. I opted to reduce the pictures on a copy machine because attempts to reduce them digitally resulted in only a series of small dots, and those reduced on the copy machine retained their original appearance better. I placed the instruments in accordance with the kit instructions, and found that I had one left over. This could be added somewhere on the instrument deck to match the photos, but I decided to just leave it off.
I painted the fuselage interior with Testors Model Master Radome Tan to simulate the linen components, Wood drybrushed with Tamiya Brown to simulate the wood components, and Testors gray on the access panel interiors. Bracing wires were made from 30 ga. beading wire attached with white glue.
The hardest part of detailing a model of
this size is deciding when "enough is enough." Although purists would
probably slash their wrists over stopping with this little detail, I decided
to close the fuselage at this point. This will be covered in the next installment.
On to Part 2!
(click to order)