Tightening The Covering
I prepared to tighten the covering on the plane I discovered
a small blemish on the bottom of the horizontal stabilizer.
A closer inspection showed that it was CA that had been
dropped on the covering. I have circled the spot in
the first picture above. However with the color of the
covering I had a hard time getting a good picture of
it. I'm sure this was a pretty isolated incident in
this one kit as the rest of the preinstalled hinges
were clean and professionally done. A small bit of CA
debonder on a square of paper towel cleaned the spot
off very quickly and the area looked good as new.
Before diving directly in to tighten the covering on
any plane it's a good idea to first go around all edges
of the covering and ensure that they are all securely
sealed. If this isn't done it's possible that these
edges can pull away and distort as the covering is stretched
and tightened. A small trim iron, or the tip of a regular
covering iron, are good for sealing down the edges.
tightening the covering it's a good idea to avoid using
a heat gun as that amount of heat can warp the thin
structures of a plane of this size. Even in areas that
have a lot of wrinkles, using a covering iron will remove
the wrinkles with few problems. Use the covering iron
over the wing surfaces to remove the wrinkles.
Install The Tail
assembly is put together prior to being placed on the
fuselage. The instructions call for using a square while
gluing the vertical stabilizer on the horizontal stabilizer.
I found it a bit clumsy to do this so I used clamps
to secure the stabilizer to a carpenter's square so
that I would not have to hold them with my hands. Prior
to gluing these parts make sure that the vertical stabilizer
is centered on the horizontal stabilizer. While there
is a slot pre-cut in the horizontal stab for the vertical
stab I found that there is enough play in the slot so
that it would be possible for the vertical stab to be
installed crooked. I simply marked the centerline and
used that as a guide for gluing the vertical stab in
position. Medium CA is used to glue the vertical stabilizer
Once the tail pieces are glued together they will slide
into the fuselage from the rear. Before this can be
done two pieces of wood must be cut away from the slots
for the horizontal stabilizer. Once this is removed
the tail assembly is slid into place on the fuselage.
the tail assembly is installed on the fuselage use
a straightedge to ensure that the tail is flush with
the rear of the fuselage.
To position the tail assembly properly the lower wing
must be installed on the fuselage. This is done so
that the position of the tail can be set square with
the wing. Before mounting the wing the two wing dowels
must be glued in place on the pre-drilled holes in
the wing leading edge. The dowels are placed in the
holes so that there is approximately 1/4" of
the dowel exposed outside of the wing. Use thin CA
to glue the dowels in place.
Use a 4-40 x 3/4" machine screw and a flat washer
to install the wing on the fuselage.
the lower wing in place the tail assembly is squared
with the wing. The method for doing this is to measure
from each wingtip to a point on the horizontal stabilizer
on one side of the plane, and then check the same
measurement on the other side of the plane to see
if they are equal. If not, slide the horizontal stab
so that the measurement is the same on both sides
of the fuselage. Also, the horizontal stab needs to
be checked so that it is parallel to the wing. Place
the plane on a level surface and look down the fuselage
from behind it. Place your eye at the level of the
horizontal stab. The distance from each tip of the
stab to the wing should be the same. If not, remove
the tail assembly and lightly sand the fuselage where
the tail assembly is mounted to adjust the fit.
Once the tail assembly is in the correct position
use medium CA to glue it in place. When gluing a joint
like this use a paper towel with CA debonder on it
to remove any excess CA that may get on the plane
the tail assembly in place the rudder is then attached.
This is the only control surface on this plane that
is not pre-hinged at the factory. The rudder is attached
to the vertical stabilizer with three CA type hinges.
To mount these, first mark the center of each hinge
and place a straight pin through the hinge at this
mark. Next slide each hinge into the pre-cut slots
in the rudder, pushing them in all the way to the
pin in the hinge. If the hinge will not go all the
way in, remove the hinge and then use a hobby knife
to clean out the slot, taking care not to enlarge
the size of the slot itself. Then reinsert the hinge.
The hinges are then inserted into the slots in the
vertical stab. Once the rudder is in place the straight
pins can be pulled out. The rudder needs to be pushed
tightly up against the vertical stab to eliminate
as much of the gap as possible. To glue the rudder
in place deflect the rudder fully in one direction
and place 4-5 drops of thin CA on each hinge, then
turn the fuselage over and repeat on the other side
of each hinge. When the CA has dried be sure to flex
the rudder in both directions to ensure free movement.
Use CA debonder to clean up any CA that is on the
Install The Motor & ESC
instructions call for removing the metal Y-mount and
brass collar that comes installed on the motor. They
also call for removing 2 screws from a mount on the
other end of the motor, applying threadlock, and then
installing the screws. However, the motor that I received
did not have these screws in place on it. **Note:
I was informed by Great Planes the the newer production
run of this motor does not have these screws mounted
On the next step the instructions showed different
parts than those that were included in the kit. The
instructions show a plywood Y-mount that is used to
mount the motor on the plane. However, in the kit
I received there was no plywood mount. Instead I found
a fiberboard Y-mount. Since the included fiberboard
Y-mount is thinner than the plywood mount called for
in the instructions the screws to mount the motor
that are called for in the instructions will not work.
The prescribed screws extend too far into the inside
of the motor and prevent the motor from turning freely.
Instead, I used the mounting screws that were removed
from the motor when I took the metal Y-mount off.
These screws were the correct length and did not interfere
with the motor's operation. When installing these
screws, blue threadlock compound should be used to
prevent them from coming out in operation.
motor is mounted to the firewall of the plane using
3 4-40 x 1" machine screws and three washers.
The screws are placed through hollow aluminum standoffs
to properly position the motor. There are two 14 mm
standoffs and one 10 mm standoff, which need to be
used on the bottom screw of the motor mount. This
builds the proper down thrust into the motor. Threadlock
compound needs to be used when installing the thread
motor mounting screws.
Install three 3.5 mm brass bullet connectors onto
the wires of the ESC.
the trays in the fuselage for the ESC and receiver
need to be sealed with thin CA. This step can put
out a lot of CA fumes so it should be done in an area
with plenty of ventilation to avoid breathing in the
fumes. Give the CA plenty of time to cure before proceeding
to mount the ESC.
A one-inch piece is cut from the supplied double-sided
tape and used to mount the ESC in place on the tray.
Route the battery connector into the battery compartment
and connect the three motor leads from the ESC to
the motor. By connecting a battery and a receiver
check that the motor turns counterclockwise when the
throttle is advanced. If not, switch any two of the
motor leads from the ESC.
Install Rudder & Elevator Servos
prepare the servos for the rudder and elevator the
servo arms need to be centered. This is done by connecting
the servos to the receiver and turning the radio on.
Center all of the controls and trims, and then place
the servo arms so that they are 90 degrees to the
servo body. A screwlock connector will be used to
attach the pushrods to each servo arm. For the elevator
place a screwlock connector in the innermost hole
on the servo arm, and for the rudder place the connector
in the middle hole on the servo arm.
The servos will then be mounted in the servo tray
inside the fuselage. Position each servo and mark
the location for the mounting screws. A small pilot
hole is then drilled for each mounting hole.
a mounting screw in each pilot hole in order to cut
threads into the wood. Harden the threads in the wood
by wicking thin CA into each screw hole.
each servo into position in the servo tray.
The instructions call for mounting the receiver using
the supplied double-sided foam tape. I chose to use
Velcro material instead. I do this because these receivers
are used for reviews and it's easier if I can quickly
install or remove the receivers. Attach the aileron
Y-harness to the receiver.
strap is made from the supplied Velcro material and
is placed through the slots in the floor of the battery
compartment. This will be used to secure the battery
in place inside of the battery compartment.
antenna support plate is located underneath the covering
at the rear of the wing saddle. If a 72 Mhz radio
is used for this plane the antenna wire will exit
the fuselage here. If a 2.4 Ghz radio is used, this
step can be ignored. Use a small pin to poke a hole
through the covering in this support plate. Place
a strain relief (use a cut off servo arm) on the antenna
wire and then feed the wire through the fuselage and
out the hole in the antenna support plate. Route the
antenna wire down the fuselage and secure at the rear
of the plane with a small piece of clear tape.
the receiver in the fuselage using the double-sided
tape or Velcro. Connect all of the servo wires
into their appropriate channels in the receiver.
At this time it's a good idea to get all of
the wiring inside of the fuselage neatly arranged.
There's not a whole lot of room inside of the
fuselage, so keeping the wiring neat helps to
ensure there is plenty of room inside of the
something that I do that helps me out. Hopefully it will
help others out as well. When I put together a plane I like
to label each servo lead as shown above. Not only do I label
what the lead is, but where it connects into the receiver as
well. When putting a plane together on the bench it's no big
deal to look up the receiver channels, but this helps when
doing field repairs. By doing this you can know immediately
where the servos connect to the receiver. This really helps
for me because I use different brands of radios and I
sometimes forget what channel is what on the receivers. This
way I don't have to remember.
Hopefully this tip will help out.
pushrods for the rudder and elevator are installed
by inserting them in pushrod guides located at the
rear of the fuselage, on either side of the fuselage.
The elevator pushrod will be on the right side of
the fuselage and the rudder on the left side. Push
the pushrods up to the radio compartment and stop.
Place the pushrod support in position in the fuselage
radio compartment, but do not glue it in place yet.
Now slide the pushrods through the holes in the pushrod
support and up to the servos. Adjust the position
of the pushrod support bracket until the pushrods
are centered in the holes in the support bracket.
When satisfied with the location of the support use
thin CA to glue the support in place.
control horns for the control surfaces are made out
of a fiberboard like material. To prep the horns for
installation lightly sand the tab portion of each
horn. Insert the pushrods through the hole in the
horns and secure with a white plastic retainer. Place
the control horn in position on the control surface
and glue in place using thin CA.
set the pushrods on each servo the elevator and rudder
need to be centered. I have found an easy way to accomplish
this as shown in the picture above. Use 2 craft sticks
(popsicle sticks) and two clamps on each control surface.
This will keep the control surface centered so that
we can set the pushrods on the servos. Connect the
battery to the ESC and use the radio to center each
servo. Place a drop of threadlock compound in the
screwlock connector and tighten the screws on each
Install the Aileron Servos
set up the aileron servos connect the servos to the
receiver and turn the radio on to center the servos.
Once the servos are centered reposition each arm so
that it is one spline forward of the servo center
position, as shown in the picture above. The instructions
call for simply gluing the servos to the underside
of the servo hatch. However I don't like installing
servos like that. The kit does include wooden blocks
that can be used to make a servo mount on the underside
of the servo hatch. Positioning the servo on the hatch
was a bit tricky because the end of the servo arm
needs to be centered in the opening in the servo hatch.
I found that the easiest way to accomplish this was
to first mark the center of the opening. Then by placing
a T-pin in the hole in the servo arm I could place
it correctly on the servo hatch. Once the position
is marked the wooden blocks are then glued to the
servo hatch using medium CA. With the blocks mounted
the servo is mounted on them in the same manner as
the rudder and elevator servos where.
keep the aileron servo extensions from being pulled
into the wing while connecting the servo, attach a
piece of string to the extension. The servo is plugged
into the servo extension and this is secured in place
by the provided heat shrink. Prep the holes for the
servo hatch mount by threading a 2 x 7mm sheet metal
screw in a pilot hole to cut threads in the wood.
Then wick thin CA into each hole to harden the threads.
I prepared to mount the servo hatch in place I noticed
a small problem arising from using the wood blocks
to mount the aileron servos. The wood block is flush
with the edge of the servo hatch, and this interferes
with the lip in the servo bay. In order to mount the
servo hatch I had to cut a notch in the lip.
The servo hatch is secured in place using four 2 x
7mm sheet metal screws. The control horns for each
aileron are mounted in the same manner as was the
tail surface control horns. A screw-lock connector
is mounted into the control horn on each servo. The
pushrod is installed on the servo arm and is secured
with a plastic retainer clip. The pushrod is then
placed in the screw-lock connector. Turn on the radio
and center the servo as well as the aileron itself.
Apply a drop of threadlock compound to the screw-lock
connector and tighten the screw onto the pushrod.
Install the Wings
are three different types of wing strut mounts and
they have specific locations on each wing where they
are located. If you look at the picture above you
can see the three different types of mount. All of
the "A" mounts are placed in the top of
the lower wing. Place each mount in the pre-cut holes
in the wing and glue in place with thin CA. For the
upper wing the "B" mounts will be placed
in the holes at the leading edge side of the wing
while the "C" mounts are placed in the holes
on the trailing edge side of the wing. As with the
"A" mounts, use thin CA to glue in place.
the 8 interplane struts by starting a 2 x 7 mm sheet
metal screw into the holes at each end of the strut.
Turn the upper wing over and attach one strut to each
strut mount on the upper wing.
fit the cabane struts to the fuselage, and mark the
mounting location for the struts. Use a 1/16"
drill bit to drill a pilot hole in the fuselage, use
a 2 x 7 mm sheet metal screw to tap threads into the
hole, and then harden the threads with thin CA. The
cabane struts are mounted to the fuselage, but do
not glue them in place until the wings have been mounted.
Install the upper wing by using four 2 x 7 mm sheet
metal screws to attach the wing to the cabane struts.
Route the two aileron extensions down the left rear
cabane strut and secure in place to the strut using
the provided tie straps. Route the leads into the
fuselage and attach them to the aileron Y-harness.
Attach the lower wing using a 4-40 x 3/4" machine
screw and washer. Attach the interplane struts to
the strut mounts on the lower wing with 2 x 7 mm sheet
metal screw. When satisfied with the location of the
wings use thin CA to glue the cabane struts in place
on the fuselage.
Install the Landing Gear
wheels are assembled by placing a 3 x 25 mm fine thread
machine screw through the wheel and placing a 3 mm
nut on the wheel. Make sure to apply threadlock compound.
Tighten the nut until it contacts the wheel and back
it off 1/2 turn to allow the wheel to spin freely.
Insert the screw through the hole in each landing
gear and install another 3 mm nut. When tightening
this nut make sure to hold the previously applied
nut. Mark the location for the landing gear mount
holes on the bottom wing and prepare then in the same
manner as the strut cabanes were done.
the landing gear to the lower wing using four 2-56
x 3/8" machine screws and four small washers.
Install the 4 x 150 mm plastic tube between the two
axle bolts. I found that the fit was a bit tight and
had trouble getting the tube to fit over the bolt.
I used a small round file to file down the inside
of the tube a little bit so it would fit over the
SPAD does not have a rear tailwheel, but rather has
a small tailskid. The instruction manual says to use
"your choice of glue" to glue the tailskid.
I chose to use medium CA to glue this in place.
cowl for the SPAD is held in place by two strong magnets,
so mounting the cowl is a simple matter of placing
the cowl in position and the magnets will hold it
there. This plane requires a 3 mm to 5 mm prop adapter
to be used to mount the prop. This adapter slides
over the output shaft of the motor and is held tight
in place as the prop is tightened.
Finish the Model
a hobby knife to trim away the covering over the holes
where the scale left and right exhaust stacks will
mount. There are two large holes and two small holes
that need to be trimmed. The instructions call for
using R/C 56 glue to attach the exhaust stacks to
the plane. However, I had a new adhesive from Zap
that is formulated for gluing plastic pieces that
I wanted to try. This is basically CA that is designed
for plastics. I attached the stacks with this adhesive
and was very pleased with how well it held the parts
in place. I'll definitely be using more of it in the
The pilot is attached to the plane using the provided
double-sided foam tape. There is a small scarf included
with the kit that adds a nice scale touch. Wrap it
around the pilot's neck and tie a small knot in the
scarf. Place a drop of medium CA on the knot to hold
it in place.
belly fairing is glued in place on the bottom wing.
Once again the instructions call for R/C 56 to glue
this in place, but I substituted the Zap Poly Formula
again. Install the servo bay hatch, which is held
in place with magnets as well.
Set the Control Throws
I started to adjust the control throws I discovered
a small problem. The picture for installing the rudder
pushrod shows the pushrod installed in the rudder
control horn so that the plastic retainer clip is
on top of the control horn, which has the end of the
pushrod pointing up towards the elevators. I found
as I adjusted the throws for the elevator that on
high rate the rudder pushrod prevented the elevator
from fully deflecting. This was an easy fix by simply
removing the pushrod from the control horn and assembling
it with the retainer below the control horn.
The control throws are adjusted according to the values
listed below. I used a Great Plane AccuThrow gauge
to adjust them. Although it would have been just as
easy to use the throw templates that are printed on
the back page of the instruction manual.
(Measured with ruler or AccuThrow gauge)
7/8" (22mm) Up
7/8" (22mm) Down
1/2" (13mm) Up
1/2" (13mm) Down
9/16" (14mm) Up
9/16" (14mm) Down
3/8" (10mm) Up
3/8" (10mm) Down
7/8" (22mm) Right
3/4" (19mm) Left
3/4" (19mm) Right
(Measured using paper templates provided)
20 degree Up
20 degree Down
10 degree Up
10 degree Down
18 degree Up
18 degree Down
13 degree Up
13 degree Down
17 degree Right
13 degree Left
13 degree Right
Balance the Plane
recommended CG location for this plane is 2-1/8"
back from the leading edge of the top wing. To adjust
the balance of the plane place a mark at this location
on the bottom side of the upper wing. With most planes
I will usually use the Great Planes C.G. Machine to
balance them. However, because of the wings it's not
possible to adjust the balance using this. The instructions
call for simply lifting the plane on your fingertips
placed on the desired CG location. While balancing
the model make sure the battery is in place in the
plane. The SPAD XIII actually balanced without requiring
any extra weight to be added to the plane.