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ElectriFly Spad XIII WWI Parkflyer ARF Review

Michael Heer reviews the Spad XIII, the fifth plane in ElectriFly's World War I Parkflyer series. The Spad XIII is an excellent addition, joining the SE5a, the Fokker D.VII, the Fokker Dr-1 and the recently released Sopwith Camel.

Splash

Introduction

 ElectriFly Spad XIII
ElectriFly Spad XIII
Wingspan:34"
Weight:23.9 oz
Wing loading:8.3-9.3 os sq ft
Length:27"
Airfoil:Flat bottom
Servos:4-Futaba S3114 micros
Transmitter:Futaba 10C FAAST
Receiver:Futaba R617FB FAAST
Battery pack for plane:11.1V 15C 1250mAh Lipo pack
Motor:Electrifly RimFire 400: 28-30-950 Brushless outrunner
Propeller:10 x 3.5 in
Prop Adaptor:3mm
ESC:ElectriFly Silver Series SS-25
Manufacturer:ElectriFly
Available From:Fine Hobby Stores Everywhere!
Price:$109.99

The Spad XIII is the newest addition to the Electrifly series of World War I parkflyers. It is finished in the colors of American Eddie Rickenbacker and proudly displays the insignia of his squadron: The Hat in the Ring, 94th Aero Squadron. Come along and learn more about this beautiful new plane.

Improvements over the First Three Planes in this Series

I own the SE5a, the Fokker D-VII and the Fokker Dr-1 from this same series. There are some nice improvements in the new Spad XIII over the first three planes as they were manufactured when I obtained them. While I don't have the recently released Camel I do know that it comes with the same assembled and painted pilot that comes with the Spad XIII.

Brief Historical Notes on the Spad XIII

The Spad XIII was developed and built by the Societe Pour L'Aviation et ses Derives (SPAD) and was an enhancement or further development of the Spad VII that was first deployed in September 1916 but the Spad VII was out classed by the German planes of early 1917. The Spad XIII had a wingspan of 27 feet 1 inch with a length of 20.5 feet. Its empty weight was 1,245 lbs and takeoff weight was 1,863 lbs. It was powered with the Hispano-Suiza 8Be 8 cylinder vee-type engine producing 220 horsepower. The maximum speed was 135 mph, and the service ceiling was 21,815 feet. The rate of climb was 384 feet per minute. Armament came in the form of two .303 caliber Vickers machine guns.

It was faster than its main contemporaries, the Sopwith Camel and the Fokker D.VII, and was known for its rugged construction and ability to dive. Part of this ruggedness came from the extra pair of struts on each side of the fuselage. While most biplanes had Cabane struts from the fuselage to the wing and a pair of struts towards the outside of the wing, the Spad also had a middle pair of struts on each wing for greater strength and rigidity. Its maneuverability was inferior to its contemporaries, especially at slower speeds, and it had poor gliding characteristics and a very sharp stall. It first flew on April 4, 1917 and was delivered to the French forces in May. Other allied forces were quick to purchase this fighter. The United States, which didn't have a fighter plane of its own, purchased 893 of the 8,472 built.

The plane was flown by French aces George Guynemer and Rene Fonck and Italy's Francesco Baracca. It is perhaps best known in America as the plane flown by America's top ace of the war, Eddie Rickenbacker, who had 26 confirmed kills in the war. The Spad XIII was also flown by American Frank Luke, who Eddie Rickenbacker described as follows: "He was the most daring aviator and greatest fighter pilot of the entire war. No other ace, not even the dreaded Richthoven had ever come close..." From September 12-29, 1918, a period of 17 days, Luke got 18 kills. He shot down 14 observation balloons and 14 planes flying a Spad XIII. During his brief career, he returned to base with 5 planes (types unknown) so badly shot up that they never flew again. The sixth time he was in a Spad XIII, and he crashed and died behind German lines. Luke Airforce Base, west of Phoenix, was named after this pilot who hailed from Arizona.

Kit Contents

Contents:

  • (Two) one-piece wood constructed wings with factory covering
  • Assembled laser cut balsa and plywood fuselage with factory covering
  • Plastic vacuum formed cowling with radiator design
  • Landing gear, pre-bent and factory painted
  • Painted cabanes and interplane struts
  • Two lightweight foam tires on wheels
  • Pilot bust
  • Decals (installed)
  • Instruction manual
  • hardware package

Items Hobbico Supplied for the Review:

  • 4 Futaba S3114 Servos
  • J Series Dual SX (W) servo ext. cord (two into one for ailerons)
  • Electrifly BP 1250 11.1V Lipo battery pack
  • Electrifly Rimfire 400: 28-30-950KV out-runner brushless motor
  • Electrifly Silver Series 25A brushless electronic speed control
  • Electrifly Parts GPMM3122 bullet adaptors (1 set of 3)
  • Electrifly PowerFlow 10 x 3.5 propellers (2)
  • Electrifly prop adaptor

There are several good reasons to use the recommended power train items with the plane:

They supply more than sufficient power for the plane.

  • The plane balances properly on the C/G easily with the recommended components
  • The motor mount on the kit is designed for use with the Rimfire motor so it bolts into the motor mount easily.
  • The components are designed to easily connect together with the adaptor connectors, so the motor plugs into the ESC and the attached Dean Ultra style connectors connect the battery to the Silver Series 25 ESC. There was no need to get out my soldering iron.

 Futaba S3114 Specs
Futaba S3114 Specs
Type: Micro High Torque Servo
Operating Speed: (4.8V): 0.17 sec/60į
Torque (4.8V): 20.8 oz-in.
Speed (4.8): .10 sec/60 degrees
Torque (6.0V): 23.5 oz-in.
Speed (6.0V): .09 sec/60 degrees
Weight: 0.27oz (7.8g)
Dimensions: x 0.43"x 0.78"
Connector Wire Length: 6.29"
Gear Type: All Nylon
Lead Length: 6.5"
Operating Voltage: 4.8-6.0 Volts
MSRP: $14.99

 Electrifly BP1250 11.1V lipo
Electrifly BP1250 11.1V lipo
Type: Lithium polymer
Number of cells: 3
Capacity: 1250mAh
Voltage: 11.1V
Weight: 3.8 oz (109g)
Dimensions: 3.4" x 1.6" x .8"
Continuous Discharge Current: 18.7A
Connector: Deans Ultra female plug
MSRP: $32.99

 Electrifly Silver Series 25A ESC
Electrifly Silver Series 25A ESC
Type: Brushless ESC
Number of cells: Li-Po 2-4, NiCd/NiMh 6-12
Continuous Current: 25A
Burst Current: 28A
Weight: .92 oz (26g)
BEC: 5V/2A
Connector: Dean Ultra male plug
MSRP: $39.99

 Rimfire 400: 28-30-950
Rimfire 400: 28-30-950
Type: Brushless outrunner
Number of cells: 2S-4S LiPo
KV rating: 950
Weight: 1.91 oz (54g)
Motor Length: 1.18" (30mm)
Shaft diameter: 3mm
Continuous Current: 14A
Maximum Surge: Current 20A
Maximum output (watts): 155
MSRP $49.99

Items I Supplied:

  • Futaba R617FB 7 channel 2.4GHz receiver
  • Futaba T10CAP 10 channel 2.4GHz transmitter
  • Exacto knife with a new blade
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • CA glue thin and medium
  • Pro threadlock
  • Straight edge
  • Liquitex Matte Varnish (optional)
  • Sponge brush (optional)

Covering with Liquitex Before Assembly

Before I started the normal assembly I got out my heat gun and covering iron and tightened up the covering as needed. I also cleaned the covering surfaces of any tape or smudges and fingerprints using denatured alcohol. The instruction manual at the back suggests using a 3M plastic green pad to rub on the covering finish to dull it and give it a little texture for a more scale appearance. A second alternative is to use Krylon spray on matte varnish to dull the finish. I used a different method I have used with great success on my earlier Electrifly WWI planes: covering with Liquitex Matte Varnish. This product will dull down the finish and make it look more like it has a canvas covering (when done correctly). This is completely optional and can be done on an assembled plane, but is much easier to do nicely before the assembly process. Drying time per coat is about 20 minutes. My planeís total weight weight RTF was 23.9 oz. I don't know exactly how much weight I added, but I made sure the coats are very thin to keep the weight down. I have averaged less then 2 fluid ounces used per plane, and some of that was left in the paper cup or washed off of the sponge brush. Some of the fluid evaporates in the drying process.

I have made a video of the process, but there are a couple points of note when Applying Liquitex Matte Varnish:

  • Tighten the covering first and get out any wrinkles.
  • Wipe down with denatured alcohol.
  • Use a foam sponge brush to apply.
  • Too little varnish is better then too much varnish.
  • When applying varnish side to side there should be no lines of varnish running front to back, only side to side!
  • Do not leave bubbles in your varnish.
  • Apply a second coat front to back and even lighter then the first coat only after the first coat is dry!
  • Leave no lines side to side, only front to back.

Downloads

I do nothing for very minor post assembly wrinkles with a plane covered by matte varnish. If I have to repair covering, I cut out the broken covering and attach the new shrink covering using my iron and heat gun to apply it to the existing covering with the varnish on it. I then cover the new piece to match. I work quickly and do not keep the heat on in any one place any longer then necessary. I have had no wrinkles in the Spad yet but my Fokker D-VII has had some post covering tightening using the heat gun sparingly to shrink the covering.

This is a good time to add more scale details to the plane such as painting white lines on the struts, drilling holes for rigging and other details that can be seen on the plane in the pictures in the history section of this review from the USAF museum. I chose to add no additional details as I was anxious to get in the air.

Assembly

I recommend assembling per the manual but add the following tips:

  • Drill out the A, B and C strut mounts with a 1/16" drill bit before installing.
  • After drilling, run a 2-7mm screw through the A, B and C strut mounts. Plan for left and right side of wing.
  • Run a screw through the struts and leave the screws partially in for easier installation to the strut mounts in the wings.
  • Test fit (only test fit) the surface control arms into the ailerons, rudder and elevator before starting the actual assembly of the main plane.
  • Use an Exacto knife as needed so the control rods fit into the holes in the surface control arms.
  • With the Exacto knife, trim 1/16" off the top of the motor mount wall expanding the mounting hole at the top of the front firewall. This will assure the motor won't rub there.
  • Use Pro Threadlock where the instructions suggest threadlock.
  • Assemble in the suggested sequence.

Completion

The Center of Gravity was recommended at 2-1/8th inches back from the wing's leading edge. I used this recommended setting for the initial C/G and stayed there.

Control Throws: Low Rate / High Rate

  • Elevator: 3/8" up and down 9/16" up and down
  • Rudder: 3/4" right and left 7/8" right and left
  • Ailerons: 1/2" up and down 7/8" up and down

I set my plane up with both settings using dual rate for the initial flights. I then left only the High rate and programmed in exponential.

Flying

Basics

The plane has ailerons, elevator, rudder and throttle for control. On the first flight the wind of an in coming storm front hit just after my Spad XIII took off. Just like a full scale plane, the more throttle I applied, the more she wanted to climb even though there is some substantial down thrust by design using the recommended hardware and motor and installing per the instructions. I added two more washers on the top right motor mount bolt and three more to the left top bolt. If I want to climb I now use a little up elevator.

I initially questioned using the innermost hole for the EZ type connector for the elevator on the servo arm but that proved to allow for plenty of elevator throw. Turns are smoothest when started with the aileron with a little rudder added in the same direction while pulling slightly down on the right stick to add in some up elevator. Stalls could be obtained at slow speeds. Forward climbing stalls created a slight drop and a quick recovery. Turning stalls could be a little bit nastier; I avoid turning below five feet in the air. In little or no wind she flew as I expected and handled well.

Taking Off and Landing

Flight can be started with a straightforward handtoss or from a runway. Short grass, such as on a golf course green or well manicured tee, is perfect for both takeoffs and landings. Taller grass will pose a problem for takeoff or landing. If the grass touches the red cross bar on the landing gear I will hand toss and try to land on pavement or dirt. I like to either have a little power on or flair to make the touchdown as soft as possible. The landing gear is rather rigid but holds up well with good landings. (The red cross piece is an important part of the landing gear so I recommend that it be installed.) Very hard landings may require repairs as is true for all of these planes. I had to repair my plane once after a friend's very hard landing but I was actually surprised at the minor damage to the wood in the lower wing considering how hard it hit.

Wind

The instructions advise that the plane can be flown in winds from 0-10 miles per hour. I took off for a flight when the winds were relatively calm, and within a minute of taking off I had the winds from an incoming storm front reach the field. My Spad, at just under 24 ounces, was bounced around quite a bit in the turbulent wind causing the Spad to get pushed up and down up to five feet at a time. I was able to fly at altitude and correct for the wind but it wasn't much fun. I agree with their recommendation to not try and fly the Spad in winds over 10 miles per hour, or at least not much over 10 miles per hour. In little or no wind my Spad has been a very enjoyable flyer.

Aerobatics/Special Flight Performance

Tail slides, half pipes. loop de loops, rolls, barrel rolls, split Ss, Immelmans can all be performed with the Spad. Speed does bleed off in some of these maneuvers so it is best to be slightly climbing with full or near full throttle when starting a barrel roll. Itís a fun plane to fly by itself, and it is even more fun if you have a friend with one of the Fokkers with whom you can mock dogfight and follow around the sky.

Is This For a Beginner?

No! This is a very responsive plane that has no self recovery capability. It is a good plane for pilots who have learned how to fly an aileron controlled plane and land smoothly on a runway. The landing gear is rigid and not built to handle repeated hard bad landings that beginners frequently make. I recommend the plane for intermediate pilots or above. The skilled pilot can fly it in a relaxed Sunday flyer fashion or in an aggressive aerobatic combat mode.

Flight Video/Photo Gallery

Downloads

Conclusion

I found the recommended C/G and throws to be spot on and recommend them as well. This is the fifth plane in the Electrifly WWI series, and they just keep getting better. I expect to get a lot of stick time with my Spad XIII. If you are looking for a fun, attractive and enjoyable WWI parkflyer the Spad XIII fits the bill in spades.

Pluses & Minuses

Pluses

  • Assembles quickly & easily.
  • Quick access to servos and battery bay thanks to magnets on the covering pieces.
  • Painted and assembled pilot, new motor mount and aileron extension wires in wings were all appreciated.
  • The recommended electronics worked great together.

Minuses

  • Landing gear is quite rigid with little give for very bad landings.

I want to thank the E-Zone member who originally shared the tip of using the Liquitex Matte Varnish on World War I era planes. I want to thank Terry Riley, Al Brose and Jon Barnes for their help on a blustery day and Jeff Hunter for his assistance with this review.

Last edited by Angela H; Mar 23, 2009 at 09:07 PM..

Discussion

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Old Mar 23, 2009, 09:42 PM
JOHN 3:16
Sammy70's Avatar
Central Ohio
Joined Feb 2008
6,248 Posts
Great looking plane and excellent review!

Another product that seems similar to your Liquitex is called "Modge Podge" (spelling might be off a bit). You can pick it up at WallyWorld or any craft store. My wife uses that stuff all the time and I sneek some from time to time It's basically like Elemers Glue that you brush on and allow to dry. Comes in matte and maybe two other finish sheens. I just coated the bottom of my F-117 edf foamie with it and it works great at protecting the foam.
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Old Mar 23, 2009, 11:50 PM
Grumpa Tom
Kmot's Avatar
United States, CA, Los Angeles
Joined Sep 2003
23,091 Posts
That is a great looking model. And another excellent review from you.

I have some criticisms, though. Constructive, I hope.

The pilot looks bug eyed. Those goggles are just too large, to the point of being ridiculous.

Your inflight photos are all out of focus. Perhaps they were all long distance shots with a short lens that when zoomed in made them look that way. But I think for a review they should be nice and sharp.
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 08:03 AM
Registered User
Beaumont tx
Joined Oct 2004
3,736 Posts
Respectfully, Sammy, the name is MOD PODGE. Excellent reviewe -- makes my hands itch and my mouth water.

I had thought something was a bit wrong with the Spads proportions, and in comparing your full size and model photos, the model is too slim. The big one has a more bulldog appearance. I wonder if shortening the struts to bring the top wing down lower would help without hurting the appearance.

One of my earliest successful rubber powered planes was the .25 Comet one, and I have always loved the Spad. Wonder how it would convert to .15 glow power??

Thanks for a lovely job, Mike.

howell
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 09:58 AM
Suspended Account
Joined Mar 2009
758 Posts
Has there been a design change in the Rimfire?

Mine, bought two years ago for the SE 5 and DR-1, don't have that bolt-on adapter!
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 11:48 AM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
1,551 Posts
Nice review and video.

I love WWI aviation; its a real passion, to be honest. There's something about this model, however, that just seems "off".

Hard to describe, really. Maybe if it were fully rigged that would make a difference (there's a lot of wires on the real thing), or maybe if the colors were more muted. It could he the seemingly high flying speeds as well.
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 12:31 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,411 Posts
Hi Fokker Ace:
As for the flying speeds if you watch the first video again the first half was shot with the plane flying fast and the second half with the plane throttled back. In the second video I was fighting a wind and wouldn't use that video to judge anything except not to fly in really turbulent wind. The colors could be more muted by painting with a India ink/rubbing alcohol weathering mix and rigging could be easily added using a drill, some eyelets and thread. Most people have really liked the current look with the matte varnish. While still cleaner then a real plane would be the colors are more muted then how it comes and the canvas effect is visable to the eye.
In a review we are supposed to review the plane as it comes and I stretched that a bit with the Liquitex matte varnish. There is no question but the plane can handle the extra drag of adding rigging. I found their recommendations for C/G and throws to be appropriate and that it it is a good flyer in relatively calm conditions. I did note I added a couple more washers to the upper motor mount for slightly more down thrust with the motor mount. Mike
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 12:51 PM
Just some guy
D Johnson's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
662 Posts
Fokker Ace, Actually, the model is exact scale to the Wind Sock Data file with the exception of cheeting the nose 1/4" so a big battery would fit, and the landing gear was slightly widend. You should try one, It is a ball!

Dave
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 12:52 PM
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Gerry Markgraf's Avatar
S. Calif
Joined Mar 2000
1,409 Posts
Fokker Ace

I don't know. I'm pretty happy with mine - especially after adding rigging, new markings and a matt finish. It was really very little effort and it transforms the plane. I havn't set down with my SPAD books and compared drawings with the model, but for an ARF, it looks pretty close to the mark. I have seen photos where the model appears slimmer than scale and the landing gear looks a bit too long, but when I look at the actual model, Its harder to see. Anyway, I'm happy. I still have built up kits from Manzano and Aerodrome to build, but until then, this will do just fine.

The landing shot is coming in for a crosswind landing in stiff winds. Fortunately, my photographer, Ralph Chamberlain, didn't catch the actual landing - it wasn't pretty.

Gerry
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 12:53 PM
Fokker Ace's Avatar
Joined Aug 2006
1,551 Posts
I know, I reviewed the Green RC Camel and did a Liquitex matt finish as well as painted a clear doped linen finish on the undersides. It does help the look greatly.

I appreciate the work that went into the covering on this one but will have to see one in person. Hopefully by that time GP will be coming out with an Albatros and I can forget all about the Spad!
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 12:55 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
9,411 Posts
Dear Mighty Manfred:
My Rimfire motors in the SE5a and the Fokker D-VII didn't come with the adaptor that came with this motor. They now call it the Rimfire 400. There may have been internal changes to the motor as well. Mike
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 12:59 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Nice job Gerry with your modifications! Mike
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 01:00 PM
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Gerry Markgraf's Avatar
S. Calif
Joined Mar 2000
1,409 Posts
By the way Mike - great review. It matched my experience perfectly. The only addition I would make is that the covering job from the factory is a patchwork of various colors of a Monocoat-like material (maybe the material is Monocoat - the colors seem to match). I admire the efforts of the manufacturers to achieve a scale looking appearence, but the modeler needs to know that it can be very difficult to shrink out wrinkles when there is more than one layer of covering material to deal with. I tried to get rid of a wrinkle in an aileron and the more I worked with it, the worse it got. I finally had to re-cover the piece.

Anyway, great job on the review.

Gerry
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 01:07 PM
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Gerry Markgraf's Avatar
S. Calif
Joined Mar 2000
1,409 Posts
With a little (lot) of help from Callie, I have built all of my GP WW I birds with alternate markings. I finally got them all out to the park last week and with the co-operation of my buddies Ralph and Murray, we photographed them together. I thought I would share a picture of the SPAD with its stable mates. Can anybody tell me what is different on the Fokker DVII?

Gerry
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Old Mar 24, 2009, 01:15 PM
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Michael Heer's Avatar
Stockton, Ca. USA
Joined Apr 2001
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Gerry without looking at mine I would say: the white radiator in front and the angled black line markings behind the bird.
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