The XIII was designed in late 1916 to counter the twin-gun German fighters appearing over the front. The SPAD XIII had a powerful Hispano-Suiza engine and two proven Vickers machine guns. By the middle of 1917, the SPADs were arriving at French combat squadrons and by early 1918, they had become the standard single-seat fighter for France. After the experiencing the characteristics of their delicate Nieuports, French pilots couldn't help but notice that their new SPADs were solid as rocks. The SPAD had other rock-like features too -- they were slow climbers and not particularly maneuverable. But, at least, they could dive away from most German fighters with ease.
The Museum of Flight's SPAD was created by Richard Day of Colonia, New Jersey and is powered by a Hispano-Suiza, 200- to 235-horsepower in-line engine and two .303-inch Vickers machine guns. Because the original SPAD drawings were destroyed during World War II, Day had to locate and study existing original examples to build this plane. The Museum's plane is painted in the markings of famous American ace Frank Luke, Jr.
The Spad is currently being re-covered and will return to display upon completion.