RCU Review: Great Planes Electrifly Spad XIII ARF

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    Contributed by: Ken Isaac | Published: April 2009 | Views: 57274 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Electrifly Spad XIII - RCU Review

    Review by: Ken Isaac (RCKen) | Email me
    Review Flights Flown by Paul Phillips

    Ken Isaac
    { RCKen }
    Email me

    About the Author


    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    • Great looking plane
    • Quality construction
    • Great covering job
    • Control surface deflection gauges printed in manual
    • Detailed instruction manual
    • Fun plane to fly. Definitely a "keeper"
    • Main markings made from Monokote and not decals

    • No small parts inventory
    • Found CA smudge on horizontal stabilizer
    • Parts in kit for motor mount different than those in the instructions
    • Installing rudder pushrod by instructions binds with elevator movement
    • Some decals could melt from heating covering


    Skill Level:

    Time Required to Build:
    5-10 Hours

    Frustration Level:
    No Problem

    What do these ratings mean?


    World War One saw a fantastic leap in the use of the fairly new invention, the airplane. All sides in the war were all trying to develop a plane that would give them the upper hand in the new battlefield that the skies presented. In 1916 a new generation of German fighters threatened to win air superiority over the Western Front of the war. The French aircraft company Societe Pour L'Aviation et ses Derives (SPAD) responded by developing a replacement for it's early fighters that would challenge the German's tough fighters. That plane was the SPAD XIII which first flew in March 1817.

    With its 220-hp engine, the SPAD XIII reached a top speed of 135 mph - about 10 mph faster than the new German fighters. It carried two .303-cal. Vickers machine guns mounted above the engine. Each gun had 400 rounds of ammunition, and the pilot could fire the guns separately or together. Technical problems hampered production until late 1917, but nine different companies built a total of 8,472 SPAD XIIIs by the time production ceased in 1919.

    The United States entered World War I without a combat-ready fighter of it's own and needed to find a source for planes that they could use on the battlefront. The U.S. Army Air Service turned to fighters build by their Allies and adopted the SPAD XIII after the Nieuport 28 proved to be unsuitable for their needs. The Air Service adopted the SPAD XIII as their primary fighter and by the war's end had received 893 SPAD XIIIs from the French, which equipped 15 of the 16 American fighter squadrons. Most Americans are familiar with this plane because many of our WWI aces, like Rickenbacker and Luke, flew the SPAD XIII.

    Great Planes Electrifly has chosen the SPAD XIII as one of their latest releases in their Park Flyer line of planes. Recently I began to fly these smaller electric Park Flyers and I have to admit that I'm really enjoying them a lot. I like the ability to make a quick trip in the middle of the week to get a quick flying "fix" that doesn't require a full blown trip to the flying field. With planes like the SPAD XIII I can satisfy those needs for a quick flight.

    So, let's dive in and see what the latest release from Electrifly has to offer. . .

    Electrifly Spad XIII ARF

    Price: $109.98*

    Stock Number:
    Wingspan: 34 in (865 mm) 
    Wing Area: 390 in sq (25.2 dm sq) 
    Weight: 22.4-25.2 oz (635-715 g)
    Wing Loading: 8.3-9.3 oz/ft sq (25-28 g/dm sq)
    Length: 27 in (685 mm) 


    • Construction: Laser cut balsa and plywood

    • Wings: One piece each bi-wing configuration with painted cabanes and interplane struts

    • Covering: Factory applied Top Flite MonoKote

    • Battery Compartment:

    • Cowling: Vacuum formed plastic, radiator design with plywood frame

    • Landing Gear: Pre-bent and factory painted

    • Wheels: Two 3" (76mm) diameter lightweight foam tires on wheels

    • Aileron Control: Dual servo on top wing

    • Pilot Bust: Painted

    • Hardware: Complete package designed for light weight and precise control response

    • Building Time: Ready to fly in 6-8 hours

    • Warranty: Great Planes Model Manufacturing Company guarantees this kit free from defects in both materials and workmanship at the date of purchase.


    • Spad XIII Park Flyer Sport Scale Airplane with pre-bent landing gear and scale wheels

    • Wing struts

    • Wood servo trays

    • Pilot bust

    • Hardware package

    • Photo-illustrated instructions

    • Decals

    • Vacuum formed radial engine cowl

    • Two replica Vickers .303 caliber guns


    • Motor: ElectriFly RimFire 28-30-950 Brushless - GPMG4560

    • Propeller: 10x3.5 - GPMQ6655

    • Prop Adapter: 3mm - GPMQ4959

    • Speed Control: ElectriFly Silver Series SS-25 - GPMM1820

    • Motor to Speed Control Connector: GPMM3122

    • Radio: 4-Channel - FUTJ36** (radio system includes two servos)

    • Servos: 4-Micro (2-ailerons, 1-rudder, 1-elevator) - FUTM0414

    • Y-Harness: One for aileron servos - HCAM2500

    • Battery: LiPo 1250mAh 11.1V 15C discharge w/balance - GPMP0713

    • Battery Charger: LiPo compatible

    • Misc. Items: Building and Field Equipment

    Finished Plane Specifications

    Actual Flying Weight: 1 lbs 9 oz
    Motor Used:
    ElectriFly RimFire 28-30-950 Brushless - GPMG4560
    Radio Used: Futaba 9TCAP
    Receiver Used:
    Futaba R114F 4-channel mini receiver
    Channels Used: 4 - 1 Aileron, 1 Rudder, 1 Elevator, and 1 Speed Controller
    Servos Used:
    Futaba S3114 micro servo - (FUTM0414)
    Speed Control Used: Great Planes Silver Series 25A Brushless ESC 5V/2A BEC
    Battery Used: Great Planes ElectriFly LiPo 11.1V 1250mAh
    Prop Used:
    Great Planes 10x4.5 Power Flow Slo-Flyer Elec Prop

    * Note: Price current as of March 2009

    Unpacking The Box

    The "Big Brown Airplane Truck" (a.k.a. UPS) dropped off a 6"x8"x35" cardboard box containing the Electrifly SPAD XIII. Hobbico always does a great job with the artwork on their boxes, and the SPAD was no different. The front of the box showed a glossy print picture of a SPAD in a WWI dogfight that is sure to get some attention from those browsing shelves of their local hobby shop looking for a Park Flyer. The side panels of the box show the features of the plane in great detail. In addition there is a section listing what it needed to finish out the plane ready to fly. This is always a nice feature so that the pilot can pick up what they need without extra trips to the hobby shop.

    Lifting the lid of the box, we see the box is well packed and that everything inside is secured to help protect from damage during shipment. Also on the top of the wings is an addendum sheet with corrections for the manual as well as a bag of small parts stapled to the addendum (more on that in a bit).

    As everything is taken out of the box all of the major assemblies (wings, fuselage, pushrods, and tail sections) are individually sealed in clear plastic. A quick inspection showed that there was no damage to the major parts of the plane. Also included in the major assemblies is a smaller cardboard box that contains all of the smaller parts of the plane, with all of the smaller parts separated into individual plastic bags. The instruction manual is also packed in a clear plastic bag to protect it during shipment.

    While the last picture above isn't technically part of the plane, it will be needed to get the plane flying. Shown here are all of the "extras" that are going to be needed to get the plane in the air. These included the receiver, servos, ESC, motor, props, prop adapter, battery, wiring adapters, and servo extensions.


    As I started to unpack and look over everything there were some nice things that stood out. One thing that stood out immediately was in the upper wing with the aileron servo extensions. For this plane they are preinstalled in the upper wing and securely taped so they do not move during shipment. All hatches such as the battery compartment and the fuselage servo access hatch are held in place by strong magnets. The vertical stabilizer comes taped together; however the hinges are not pre-installed.

    Usually you can get a good idea of the covering quality by looking at the wings of a plane, as they are usually where wrinkles will show up first. Coming out of the box the covering on the wings was not perfect as it had a few wrinkles. However they were minor and should be easy to remove with a covering iron. I did like to see that the major markings on the wing were made of Monokote and not stick-on decals. This makes it easier to tighten the covering as heat can be applied directly on them without the worry of the markings melting.

    The SPAD XIII has ailerons on only the upper wing of the plane, which are pre-installed in the Electrifly kit. It's a good idea to give all pre-installed control surfaces a good tug to make sure they are securely mounted; this also includes the installed elevators on the horizontal stabilizer.

    The Manual

    As mentioned earlier, an addendum is included with the plane that has a small bag of parts stapled to it. The first item of the addendum addresses the bag of parts. This bag is the same as is included in the kit, but the included bag is missing the white plastic retainer clips. The extra bag includes these parts and this bag should be used instead of the other bag. The addendum also addresses minor changes in the instruction manual. A good habit I try to follow is to go into the manual right off the bat and pencil in any changes such as this so that I don't forget about them later when I'm assembling the plane.

    Hobbico has always had some of the highest quality instruction manuals around, and the manual for this plane is no different. The manual for the SPAD XIII is 24 pages long and is printed in black and white. Opening up the manual we find the usual list of all items needed to complete the project as well as any supplies such as glues and tools. Also included is a picture showing the major assemblies of the plane. One thing lacking was an inventory of the smaller hardware. This came into play later in the assembly, as I had to spend about 20 minutes thumbing through the manual to count how many of each screw was needed so that I could properly identify similar screws. An included inventory would have allowed this to be avoided.

    The manual is very well written with each step thoroughly explained, and includes detailed pictures to illustrate almost every step of the assembly. Included with each step is a small check box that allows for each step to be "checked off" as it is finished. Also included in the manual are several "expert" tips such as scuffing the covering for a more scale appearance. One thing that I haven't seen in any manual before, and I thought was a nice addition, were deflection gauges for the control surfaces that were printed on the back page of the manual. One small problem is that the opposite side of the page does contain printed instructions, so cutting the gauges out will interfere with that page. However, a quick trip to a scanner or a copier will take care of that problem.

    Online manual available here: View Great Planes Spad XIII Manual




        Tightening The Covering

    As 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. 

    When 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

    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 in place.

    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.


    As 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.

    With 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 surfaces.

    With 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 plane surfaces. 

    Install The Motor & ESC

    The 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 in them.

    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.

    The 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.

    Next, 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

    To 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.

    Thread 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.

    Mount 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.

    A 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.

    An 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.


    Secure 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 fuselage.

    Helpful Tip
    Here's 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.


    The 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.

    The 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.

    To 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 pushrod.

    Install the Aileron Servos

    To 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.

    To 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.

    As 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

    There 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.

    Prepare 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.

    Test 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

    The 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.

    Mount 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 bolt.


    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.

    The 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

    Use 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 future.

    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.

    The 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

    As 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.

    Control Throws
    (Measured with ruler or AccuThrow gauge)
    Aileron: High Rate: 7/8" (22mm) Up
    7/8" (22mm) Down
      Low Rate: 1/2" (13mm) Up
    1/2" (13mm) Down
    Elevator: High Rate: 9/16" (14mm) Up
    9/16" (14mm) Down
      Low Rate: 3/8" (10mm) Up
    3/8" (10mm) Down
    Rudder: High Rate: 7/8" (22mm) Left
    7/8" (22mm) Right
      Low Rate: 3/4" (19mm) Left
    3/4" (19mm) Right
    Control Throws
    (Measured using paper templates provided)
    Aileron: High Rate: 20 degree Up
    20 degree Down
      Low Rate: 10 degree Up
    10 degree Down
    Elevator: High Rate: 18 degree Up
    18 degree Down
      Low Rate: 13 degree Up
    13 degree Down
    Rudder: High Rate: 17 degree Left
    17 degree Right
      Low Rate: 13 degree Left
    13 degree Right

    Balance the Plane

    The 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.




    I've always liked living in Oklahoma because we never really shut down flying for winter as we still get flying days during the winter. However, as I was reviewing the SPAD XIII I think I had the weirdest weather extremes I've experienced since I've lived here. On Tuesday of the week I flew we were hit with a good ice storm that shut down everything for 3 days, but luckily we never lost power. So for three days I stayed home and worked on this review (I actually put together 2 review planes in those three days). But when Friday hit the temperatures went up to melt the ice and on Saturday we were out at the flying field flying this review plane. Fun weather indeed!

    I received an 11.1v 1250 Mah Li-po battery with this review plane. I had a 1500 Mah battery from another plane that I was tempted to use to fly this, but decided to stick with what I received as it was the recommended battery in the manual. With the battery charged we headed out to the field. Setting up the SPAD to fly is pretty simple. The battery box is located underneath the machine guns on the fuselage and the hatch is secured with magnets. Simply lift up the hatch to install the battery for flight, using the Velcro strip to secure the battery in position. With the transmitter turned on and the battery connected the ESC will beep once. All of the controls of the plane will now operate except for the throttle, which has to be "armed". I found that it's easier to check all of the control throws and range check the radio before arming the throttle so that the prop can't "accidentally" start spinning. This is simply a smart thing to do in order to stay safe. Once I was satisfied that the controls were correct, the plane was carried out to the runway. With the lack of a tailwheel we decided it would be easier to carry it out instead of trying to taxi out. Once we had the plane on the runway we armed the throttle. Advancing the throttle full, which caused the ESC to beep once again, does this. Then return the throttle to the idle setting. The ESC will beep twice and is now "armed" and ready to fly. So, with the cameras running my pilot was ready to go.

    The throttle was advanced a little bit to get the plane rolling and pointed into the wind, and then opened to full throttle. At full throttle the plane used about 5' of runway and was up and into the air. Once in the air my pilot needed a little help getting the plane trimmed as he wasn't totally familiar with my Futaba 9C radio. It needed several clicks of down elevator to get to level flight. But once the plane was trimmed out it flew hands free at about 2/3 throttle. With the plane trimmed I let my pilot just fly it and see how it did. The biggest thing to report is that there really wasn't much to report. Ok, so to put it simply. This plane flew great and we enjoyed flying it! But then that makes for a boring review!

    With the supplied motor and battery the plane had enough power to fly well, but wasn't overpowered as some electrics can be. After trimming out the plane one of the first things we did was to stall the plane to see how the plane handles in a stall. At about a "mistake" high we cut the power and held the plane level. As the airspeed dropped off the plane stalled straight forward and as it picked up airspeed it started flying again with no problems. With that out of the way it was time to see how well the plane would maneuver. Loops with the SPAD are very easy to do and can be done as either big lazy loops or tight little loops as the plane excels in either. Even though there are ailerons only on the top wing of the plane it doesn't lack aileron authority. The plane rolls well, requiring a touch of down elevator to keep the plane level in a roll. The only maneuver that we found tough was a stall turn. It was difficult the get the rudder to really kick around very well when trying to do this. It might have been more of a lack of timing because the plane was still pretty new to my pilot. He really had to work at it and never really got a passable stall turn, but rather more of some "flops". This was the only place that the rudder authority was lacking as the plane was easy to steer around using the rudder in level flight. The plane flew well at about 2/3 throttle and at that speed low passes in front of us were really entertaining as it was fun to just watch the plane fly by. After about 7-8 minutes of flight it was time to bring her in and see how she landed. Here the plane definitely behaves like a biplane. Meaning that you just aren't going to "float" the plane in. Cutting throttle causes the speed to drop off quickly. In order to land a little bit of power has to be kept on and the plane needed to be flown all the way to the runway. Once on the ground the plane can be a little squirrelly to handle as it can tip and rub the wingtips on the runway. But with the high landing gear and short fuselage this really can be expected. After this we took the plane back up to get a feel for how long we could get out of a battery charge. It didn't take too long to find out as after just a couple of minutes of flight the battery told us it was time to get back on the ground. Flying time on the 1250 Mah pack was around 9-10 minutes.

    One thing that I wanted my pilot to do was to keep the plane in as close as he could. This is, after all, a park flyer plane and is intended for smaller flying spaces and fields. While it's probably too big for any indoor flying in other than the largest venues, it will do very well in smaller outside spaces. This plane could easily be flown in an average playground or larger parking lot, which will really open up the areas that it can fly in. But then again, that's exactly what the park flyers are made for, isn't it?


    Electrifly Spad XIII
    Flight Video
    Large File - 15 MB
    Click Here

    Electrifly Spad XIIII
    Flight Video
    Small File - 6 MB
    Click Here


    Having just recently gotten into the Park Flyer type of planes I have really enjoyed the new world of flying that they have opened up for me. Because of my job I am in a lot of different places in the course of my work, many of which have large open areas. Now with the park flyers I can put one in the back of my truck, and if I have a bit of free time can pull the plane out and get in a quick flight or two. However, I always seem to attract a small crowd when I do this! But this is also good for attracting new people into the hobby.

    The SPAD XIII is the latest in Electrifly;s line of World War I fighters. As a Park Flyer it's a good addition to their fleet. Looking at the attention to detail in the plane and manual, and the high quality of construction, it's easy to see that they have put a lot of effort into producing a great product. I have no problems at all recommending others to fly this plane.

    With a weight of under two pounds this plane qualifies to be in the AMA's Park Pilot Program.

    As I finish out this review there are several things I would like to make note of:
    • While I am fairly certain it does not reflect every plane produced, and is more than likely and isolated incident, I was a bit disappointed to find the CA blemish on the elevator.
    • The difference in parts for mounting the motor did cause a small amount of confusion, as the recommended screws would bind the motor. However this was easy enough to work out.
    • The rudder pushrod interfered with the elevator if installed according to the pictures in the manual. Once again, this is minor because it's easy to enough to work out.

    The quality, fit, and finish of the SPAD are first rate. The recommended assembly time of 6-8 hours is quite accurate. As I said, I assembled it in one day while snowed in. Any modeler with average skills will have no problems at all assembling this plane in this amount of time. One weekend , or a few evenings, would be plenty of time to have this plane ready for flight. No special tools are required to get this plane up and in the air. The manual is well documented and leaves no doubt as to what's needed in each step. Electrifly has a long history of good documentation and this plane follows in the same manner. On the frustration meter though I did have to move up the meter to the "No Problem" mark. The issue with the motor mounting parts and the rudder pushrod caused me to stop and figure out small issues. However this rating is nothing to be ashamed of as the plane is otherwise still pleasant to assemble.

    Electrifly continues to find interesting planes to model, and always does a fantastic job of bringing them to market. The SPAD is no different. It's a fun plane to fly and still manages to have looks that set it apart. It's definitely not going to blend into the crowd at the field. The plane will make a great addition to any pilot's hangar.

    It's definitely found a home in my hanger as I plan to hang on to this plane and get some more airtime on it!


    Electrifly Spad XIII ARF

    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021
    Champaign, IL 61826-9021

    Products used: 9TCAP Radio, R114DF 4-Channel receiver, S3114 Micro Servos
    Zap Adhesives
    Frank Tiano Enterprises
    3607 Ventura Drive E.
    Lakeland, Florida 33811
    Phone: (863)607-6611
    Website: http://www.franktiano.com
    Products Used: Thin & Medium CA, Z-42 Thread Locker, Zap Poly Formula


    Comments on RCU Review: Great Planes Electrifly Spad XIII ARF

    Posted by: brett65 on 05/13/2009
    Ordering mine this week! Hoping all goes well with this as my first biplane.
    Posted by: EATHIS on 07/12/2009
    I WANT ONE ! ! ! ! !
    Posted by: adam402 on 09/19/2012

    Posted by: adam402 on 09/19/2012
    thanks for this greate post every thing is clear except one can you tell me that how much time this <a href="http://www.nitrotek.se/radiostyrda-flygplan.htmlk">modellflygplan</a> can fly in air with one time charging
    Page: 1

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