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Biplane Fighter Aircraft


Biplane Fighter Aircraft


The two-seat SPAD S.XI was dogged by issues which led to limited production during World War 1.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: France
YEAR: 1917
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Societe Pour l'Avions et ses Derives (SPAD) - France
OPERATORS: Belgium; France; Kingdom of Italy; Imperial Japan; Imperial Russia; Soviet Union; United States; Uruguay

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the SPAD S.XI A2 model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 25.72 feet (7.84 meters)
WIDTH: 36.78 feet (11.21 meters)
HEIGHT: 9.19 feet (2.8 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 1,499 pounds (680 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 2,293 pounds (1,040 kilograms)
ENGINE: 1 x Hispano-Suiza 8Bc V-8 water-cooled engine developing 220 horsepower.
SPEED (MAX): 112 miles-per-hour (180 kilometers-per-hour; 97 knots)
RANGE: 249 miles (400 kilometers; 216 nautical miles)
CEILING: 22,966 feet (7,000 meters; 4.35 miles)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 788 feet-per-minute (240 meters-per-minute)

1 x 7.7mm Vickers fixed, forward-firing machine gun
1 OR 2 x 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on trainable mount in rear cockpit.
Graphical image of an aircraft medium machine gun

Series Model Variants
• S.XI - Base Series Designation
• S.XI A2 - Formal production model designation


Detailing the development and operational history of the SPAD S.XI Biplane Fighter Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 6/4/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The storied engineering career of Frenchman Louis Bechereau spanned decades and several popular designs during World War 1 (1914-1918). Hired by Armand Deperdussin to head design at Societe de Production des Aeroplanes Deperdussin ("S.P.A.D."), Bechereau delivered the early SPAD S.VII and later SPAS S.XIII. In between these two notable designs fell the oft-forgotten SPAD S.XI, a two-seat reconnaissance-minded biplane fighter attempting to fulfill Specification C2 for the French Air Service. The SPAD S.XI did not prove itself an outright success as other SPAD designs did and witnessed only a short shelf-life during the war, dogged by issues throughout its career. This led to a rather limited production reach of about 1,000 aircraft in the series.

To fulfill the French air Service (Aeronautique Militaire) requirements, Bechereau attempted to continue using the proven qualities of his previous single-seat biplane fighter offerings. A longer fuselage was necessary when incorporating a second observer's/gunner's cockpit aft of the pilot. Sections of the wings were cut out for improved viewing while many other qualities of the design remained consistent with the period - the front-mounted engine driving a two-bladed wooden propeller, parallel struts and cabling to stiffen and control the "over-under" wing structure and conventional single-finned tail unit. The undercarriage was wheeled though fixed through reinforced struts and the tail supported by a simple skid. The pilot was given a single fixed, forward-firing 7.7mm Vickers series machine gun and the observer could manage an optional 7.7mm Lewis machine gun on a trainable mounting. The aircraft emerged under the company model number of "SPAD 11", also written as SPAD S.XI.

Power to the S.XI was served through 1 x Hispano-Suiza 8Bc series V-8 water-cooled engine of 200 horsepower and this allowed a maximum speed was 112 miles per hour with an mission endurance time of approximately 2.25 hours. The aircraft's service ceiling was listed at 23,000 feet with a rate-of-climb of 9,850 feet reached in roughly 12.5 minutes. Some airframes were also fitted with a Renault 12-cylinder engine instead of the aforementioned Hispano-Suiza installation, though this powerplant actually reduced performance figures and was not popular.

The SPAD S.XI joined the war during 1917 and eventually proved itself not a success. The modified single-seat fighter approach for a larger two-seat design made the airframe tricky in its handling while performance from the engine of choice proved underwhelming. The type did hold characteristics that superseded some existing types then in service with French forces so the aircraft still managed to serve in notable numbers. It managed a frontline status until the fall of 1918 before being replaced by the SPAD S.XVI - itself a direct offshoot of the S.XI though outfitted with a Lorraine-Dietrich engine of 250 horsepower. These proved no better than the originals but were kept in action nonetheless.

Operators beyond the French Air Service became Belgium, Italy, Japan, Russia (into the Soviet Union years), Uruguay and the United States (American Expeditionary Force - "AEF").


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 120mph
Lo: 60mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (112mph).

Graph average of 90 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the SPAD S.XI A2's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (1,000)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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