SPAD S.XIV Floatplane / Seaplane Biplane Fighter Aircraft
Only 40 examples of the SPAD S.XIV floatplane fighter were built during World War 1.
Entry last updated on 4/4/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The SPAD S.XIV was a floatplane version of the earlier S.XII fighter. The original S.XII was developed by way of a request by French fighter ace Georges Guynemer for a cannon-armed fighter. This was honored through the S.XII which featured a 37mm Puteaux cannon fixed into the aircraft engine mount and firing through the propeller hub by way of a hollowed out section of the engine block. A single-shot weapon, it was of limited tactical value over the battlefield and required manual reloading while producing an inordinate amount of smoke when fired. A 7.7mm machine gun was also added for a more conventional armament fit but this too proved limited at a time when most fighters carried paired guns. About 300 of the aircraft were ordered though it remains unknown how many were actually delivered as no complete French fighter group was ever made up of S.XII aircraft.
The off-shoot S.XIV floatplane fighter retained the same powerplant (with integrated cannon armament) and fuselage as the S.XII before it. A Hispano-Suiza 8Bc engine of 220 horsepower powered the aircraft. The biplane wing arrangement relied on an equal-span design with two-bay configuration. The engine was fitted at the front of the fuselage in the typical way, the pilot just aft of the engine and under/behind the upper wing assembly. The tail unit was of a conventional design featuring a single vertical fin and low-mounted horizontal planes. The most obvious difference between the S.XII and the S.XIV was the use of floatplanes taking the place of the wheeled undercarriage seen in the original. The floats were provided by Levasseur and gave the S.XIV the water landing/take-off capabilities required of the seaplane fighter.
First flight of an S.XIV prototype was on November 15th, 1917 and a further 39 production-quality aircraft then followed, all for service in the French Navy (Aeronavale) where they lived out the rest of their days. The series was retired with the end of the war in 1918 - marking a short active service life for the S.XIV. For its time, the aircraft was one of the fastest floatplane-equipped systems in the world, setting a level speed record during its time aloft. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 127 miles per hour, a range out to 155 miles and a service ceiling of 16,400 feet.