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Type: Fighter plane
Design country:

FranceFrance France



First flight:

April 1916


August 1916

Number of pieces:


The SPAD S.VII was a single-seat biplane - fighter aircraft of the French manufacturer Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés .


After the rather bad experiences with the unconventional drive concept of types A 1 to A 5 , the Swiss chief engineer Marc Birkigt initially developed a prototype with a pulling propeller under the name SPAD SV at SPAD . The fuselage and wings of the two-legged biplane were fabric-covered wooden structures with aluminum sheets in the front fuselage area. Upper and lower wings were of the same length and were designed without staggering; Ailerons on the upper wings. The machine had a two-wheeled chassis and a tail spur.

This aircraft served as the basis for the S.VII, which should prove to be the first really successful fighter aircraft of the SPAD works. The machine, whose first flight took place in April 1916 , was initially powered by a newly developed water-cooled 8-cylinder V-engine Hispano-Suiza 8Aa with 112 kW (150 PS); the built-in MG was equipped with a synchronization control developed by Birkigt. The acceptance flight took place in Villacoublay in April 1916 with a 140 hp engine , with the machine reaching a top speed of 196 km / h and rising to an altitude of 3000 m in 15 minutes. After this proof of performance, a first series with a number of 268 was ordered in May 1916, which were delivered by the beginning of 1917. In addition to SPAD, the companies Grémont, Janoir, Kellner et Fils, de Marçay, Société d'Etudes Aéronautiques, Régy and Sommer were commissioned with production under license.

In addition, the British companies Blériot & SPAD Aircraft Works and Mann, Egerton & Co. Ltd. S.VII for the British Army and Naval Air Force , some of which increased the firepower of their aircraft with an additional MG on the upper wing. After further modifications, however, the British aircraft proved to be less powerful; production was stopped after 220 aircraft were delivered.

In Russia, the Duks works in Moscow produced around 100 more aircraft under license, but remained dependent on French engine deliveries. Inferior engine quality and weaker frame construction with a higher operating weight, however, led to a loss of performance compared to the French model.

The second production version received the Hispano-Suiza 8Ac with 200 hp in addition to a slightly enlarged wingspan. A total of around 500 of the first and over 6000 machines of the second series were produced by SPAD and its licensees.


The first SPAD S.VII c.1 entered the front-line units from August 1916 and were clearly superior to all other models such as the British Airco DH2 , the French Nieuport 11 and the German Fokker monoplane . The fighter pilot Armand Pinsard achieved the first aerial victory on a SPAD S.VII on August 26, 1916. However, the elimination of initial problems delayed ongoing production, such as the impending overheating of the engine or the ammunition feed system leading to jamming.

The improved version of the SPAD S.VII appeared at the front in early 1917 and now also replaced the outdated Nieuport 17 . The SPAD S.VII enjoyed the reputation of being one of the best allied fighters of the First World War . The SPAD S.VII was used with great success by the air forces of France , Belgium , Italy , Great Britain , Russia and the USA . In mid-1917 around 500 were on the front lines. The Belgian Aviation Militaire used S.VII in its Escadrilles 5 and 10. The British Air Corps equipped Squadrons 19 and 23 with the aircraft and only replaced them with the Sopwith Dolphin in 1918 , after the Navy ceded S.VII to the Army Aviation and replaced them by ordering the Sopwith triplane , which was now available . The Italian air force received 214 SPAD S.VII and the US Air Force also received SPAD S.VII, partly as a trainer, partly for front-line deployment.

The robust and fast aircraft proved to be at least equal to the enemy fighters, especially in air combat, although in contrast to these they were only equipped with a machine gun. The machine achieved nosedive speeds of up to 400 km / h, which compensated for its reduced maneuverability in aerial combat and revolutionized the tactics of French fighter pilots. The S.VII Vieux Charles of the successful fighter pilot Captain Georges Guynemer became particularly well known . Other fighter pilots such as the Italians Francesco Baracca and Fulco Ruffo di Calabria , the Americans Eddie Rickenbacker and Frank Luke and the Russian Alexander Kasakow achieved numerous aerial victories with the SPAD S.VII. The most successful French fighter pilot René Fonck emphasized that the aircraft had revolutionized aerial combat.

Individual prey planes were flown by German , Austrian and Turkish fighter pilots.

The SPAD VII was replaced by the SPAD S.XIII , but some of it remained in service until the end of the war.

Units equipped with SPAD S.VII

FranceFrance France

Escadrille 3, Escadrille 12, Escadrille 15, Escadrille 23, Escadrille 23, Escadrille 26, Escadrille 31, Escadrille 37, Escadrille 38, Escadrille 48, Escadrille 49, Escadrille 57, Escadrille 62, Escadrille 65, Escadrille 67, Escadrille 68, , Escadrille 73,1914 Escadrille 75, Escadrille 76, Escadrille 77, Escadrille 78, Escadrille 79, Escadrille 80, Escadrille 81, Escadrille 82, Escadrille 83, Escadrille 84, Esdrille 85. Escadrille 86, Escadrille 87, Escadrille 88, Escadrille 89, Escadrille 92, Escadrille 94, Escadrille 95, Escadrille 96, Escadrille 97 Escadrille 98, Escadrille 99, Escadrille 100, Escadrille 102, Escadrille 103, Escadrille 112, Escadrille 124, Escadrille 150, Escadrille 151, Escadrille 152, Escadrille 154, Escadrille 154, Escadrille 154, Escadrille 155, Escadrille 156, Escadrille 157, Escadrille 158, Escadrille 159, Escadrille 160, Escadrille 161, Escadrille 162, Escadrille 163, Escadrille 315, Escadrille 392, Escadrille 531, Escadrille 561, Escadrille 581

United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom

No 19 Squadron, No 23 Squadron

United States 48United States United States

41st Aero Squadron, 103rd Aero Squadron, 138th Aero Squadron, 139th Aero Squadron, 141st Aero Squadron, 638th Aero Squadron

BelgiumBelgium Belgium

5ème (later 10ème) Escadrille

Italy 1861Kingdom of Italy (1861-1946) Italy

77a Squadriglia, 91a Squadriglia

Russian Empire 1914Russian Empire Russia

7. Hunting Department, XI. Hunting Department, XIX. Hunting department



After the war, the S.VII was used as a training aircraft by the French air force until 1928. After the end of the war, surplus SPAD S.VII also went to the air forces of Brazil , Argentina , Chile , Czechoslovakia , Finland , Greece , Japan , the Netherlands , Peru , Poland , Estonia , Portugal , Romania , Siam and Yugoslavia .

Guynemer's SPAD S.VII is in the Musée de l'Air in Le Bourget, a British S.VII in the Virginia Aviation Museum and in the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum . In the USA, the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is showing an American S.VII. A restored Czech S.VII can be seen in the Aviation Museum in Kbely.

Technical specifications

Parameter Data
crew 1
length 6.16 m
span 7.82 m
height 2.35 m
Wing area 17.85 m²
Empty mass 500 kg
Takeoff mass 755 kg
drive Hispano-Suiza-8Ac V8 engine
power 180 hp (132 kW)
Top speed 190 km / h at 2000 m altitude (212 km / h)
Climb performance 6:24 min at 2000 m altitude
Service ceiling 5485 m
Range 250 km
Flight duration fully fueled 2:15 min
Service ceiling 5485 m (6200 m)
Armament 1 Vickers machine gun , cal. 7.7 mm,
firing forward, synchronized

See also


  • Kenneth Munson: Warplanes 1914-1919. Orell Füssli-Verlag, Zurich 1968
  • Heinz Nowarra: The Development of Airplanes 1914–1918. Munich 1958
  • Enzo Antolucci, Paolo Matricardi: Airplanes from the beginning to the 1st World War. Falken-Verlag Wiesbaden 1975, ISBN 3-8068-0391-9
  • Jon Guttman: SPAD VII Acrs of World War I. Osprey Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84176-222-7

Web links

Commons : SPAD S.VII  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. cf. .
  2. "il changea complètement le visage du combat aérien"
  3. cf.
  5. Archive link ( Memento from January 11, 2012 in the Internet Archive )
  7. a b for 200 hp engine; see. Heinz Nowarra: The Development of Airplanes 1914–1918. Munich 1958