The famed American volunteers of the French Lafayette Escadrille were flying the SPAD VII in February 1918 at the time they transferred to the U.S. Army Air Service, becoming the 103rd Aero Squadron. Several other U.S. units also used the SPAD VII, although most American Expeditionary Force (AEF) fighter squadrons were equipped with a slightly improved version, the SPAD XIII, by the time the war ended in November 1918.
The SPAD VII made its initial flight in July 1916. It showed such promise that it was put into production at once, and by the latter part of that year it appeared on the Front in both French and British squadrons. The airplane was an immediate success, primarily because its structural ruggedness permitted it to dive at high speeds without disintegrating. About 189 of the slightly more than 5,000 SPAD VIIs built went to the AEF.
The airplane on display was obtained from the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, Ill., and restored by the 1st Fighter Wing, Selfridge Air Force Base, Mich., 1962-1966.
Armament: One Vickers .303-cal. machine guns
Engine: Hispano-Suiza 8-Aa of 180 hp
Maximum speed: 127 mph
Ceiling: 17,500 ft.
Span: 25 ft. 8 in.
Length: 20 ft. 3 in.
Height: 7 ft.
Weight: 1,550 lbs. maximum
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