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|French SPAD A.2 of the Escadrille N49 in Corzieux.|
|Manufacturer||Société Pour l'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD)|
|First flight||May 1915|
|Primary users||Russian Empire
|Developed from||SPAD A.1|
The SPAD A.2 (also called SA.2, A-2 or A2) was a French tractor biplane of 1915 that saw some service with France and Russia in the early stages of the First World War in the fighter-reconnaissance role.
Design and development
SPAD A.1 prototype
The first military aircraft produced by SPAD's chief designer, Louis Béchereau, was the SPAD A.1 prototype. Early combat experience had shown it was desirable to have forward-firing machine guns. However, synchronization devices to fire a gun through the propeller were not yet available and several solutions were tested by various manufacturers. One of the most complex was that adopted by Béchereau on the A.1. In addition to its pilot, the aircraft was designed to carry an observer/gunner placed in a streamlined nacelle in front of the propeller. With this configuration - designed to combine the advantages of the tractor and the pusher types, the observer had a clear field of fire and vision to the front. However, this also seriously limited the pilot's vision, notably during landing, made communication between the pilot and the observer nearly impossible and implied the risk of the observer being hit by the propeller, not to mention being crushed by the motor in even a relatively mild crash or "nose-over". A broadly similar adaptation of the British B.E.2c - the B.E.9 was abandoned for these reasons.
The nacelle (called a "pulpit") was fitted with a flexible Lewis machine gun on a tubular mount, and incorporated air intakes on its sides to redirect some air towards the 80-hp Le Rhône 9C rotary engine, which was largely screened by the nacelle. It could also be hinged down to give an easier access to the engine or to start it. A wire mesh screen was installed behind the observer, to stop him from hitting the propeller.
Aside from this unorthodox configuration, the aircraft was of a rather standard wood and fabric construction. The wings had a one-bay design. To prevent the long wires from vibrating excessively in flight, two light vertical struts were added in the middle of the bay to retain and strengthen the wires, giving the aircraft the looks of a two-bay biplane. The fuselage was reportedly strong and well-designed.
The first flight of the A.1 took place in May 1915. The aircraft reached a top speed of 95 mph (153 km/h).
The SPAD A.2 was an improved version of the A.1 which first flew on 21 May 1915 and later went into production. A total of 99 were produced (42 for France and 57 for Russia). Its flight characteristics were still disappointing, and the aircraft was not well loved by its crews. In spite of this lack of success, the design brought valuable experience to Béchereau and his team, and some features, notably the one-bay wing with intermediate struts, were to be used later by Béchereau for the SPAD S.5, which would lead to the extremely successful S.VII and S.XIII fighters.
Russian models were modified to use skis instead of wheels for winter operations.
- The SPAD A.3 was a dual-control trainer variant of the A.2, with the pilot also being supplied with a gun mount according to some sources. No production followed.
- The SPAD A.4 was an A.2 with a more powerful 110-hp Le Rhône 9J engine. Some 56 were produced for the Russian Imperial Air Service.
- The SPAD A.5 was a (three-seater?) variant powered by a 220-hp Renault 8Fg engine. This variant did not see any production either
The A.2 had a short and inauspicious career in the French Aviation Militaire. Its crews did not appreciate it and it was quickly replaced in service by better types as the introduction of synchronizing gear rendered the entire concept of the A.2 obsolete. Few details are available concerning its career.
The Imperial Russian Air Service was the other user of the SPAD A.2 and kept it in service for a much longer time, due to a shortage in available aircraft on the Russian-German front. Although Russian crews also thought very little of the SPAD, at least one crew was successful with it. On November 25, 1916, Russian pilot Karpov and his observer Bratolyubov shot down a German aircraft near the village of Vulka.
Data from
- Crew: one pilot, one gunner/observer
- Length: 7.30 m (23 ft 11 in)
- Wingspan: 9.55 m (31 ft 4 in)
- Height: 2.65 m (8 ft 8 in)
- Wing area: 24.56 m² (264.36 ft²)
- Empty weight: 435 kg (958 lb)
- Loaded weight: 735 kg (1,618 lb)
- Useful load: kg (kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: kg (lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Le Rhône 9C rotary engine, (80 hp)
- Maximum speed: 153 km/h (95 mph)
- Range: 300 km (186 mi)
- Service ceiling: 4300 m (14,100 ft)
- Rate of climb: 2000 m (6,560 ft) in 12 min 30 sec
- Guns: 1 .303 Lewis machine gun on a flexible mount
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to SPAD.|
- Bordes, Gérard (1981). Mach 1, Encyclopédie de l'Aviation, Vol. 8. Editions Atlas.
- Connors, John F. (1989). SPAD Fighters in action. Squadron/Signal. ISBN 0-89747-217-9.
- "aviafrance.com". Retrieved 2007-10-01.