Frank Luke’s SPAD XIII – Hobbycraft 1/32
There is no pilot of World War I in any air force who more fits the mythology of the “Great Flying Ace of the Great War” than The Arizona Cowboy, Frank Luke. The working-class kid with no education around a bunch of upper-class “college boys,” who could fly rings around them and yet it didn’t matter since he wasn’t “one of us.” His entire record was accomplished in two weeks in late September-early October 1918, and it included a 4-day pass to Paris. A 10 day career, and he ends up the second-ranked American Ace of the Great War. And yes, it’s true: when he took off against orders on his final mission, his CO really did say “If he comes back I’m recommending him for a court-martial; if he doesn’t come back I’ll be recommending him for the Medal of Honor.” (which he did) He really did engage in an Old West shootout with the German patrol sent to take him in after he crashed. I once wrote a “when the facts conflict with the legend, print the legend” (to quote a famous line from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance) screenplay about Luke that was seriously considered for about 30 seconds (before they came to their senses) here in Hollywood 30 years ago.
The Hobbycraft SPAD XIII is so good that WNW has officially stated they have no intention of doing one themselves. The decals suck, and the only “good decals” I know of are from a company in Brazil that give you Eddie Rickenbacker’s airplane. I had a good friend enlarge an old Ministry of Small Aircraft Production 1/48 sheet of Luke’s airplane to 1/32. It’s done as a Bleriot-production airplane (there’s a lot of difference in the camo schemes between a Bleriot SPAD, a Kellner SPAD and a S.P.A.D. SPAD). Someone needs to do a good sheet (and of course it would help if Hobbycraft would re-release the damn kit!)
3 additional images. Click to enlarge.