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France (1919)

Detailing the development and operational history of the SPAD S.XV Biplane Fighter Prototype.

 Entry last updated on 4/4/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

Picture of SPAD S.XV Biplane Fighter Prototype
Picture of SPAD S.XV Biplane Fighter Prototype

The SPAD S.XV was evolved from 1917 into 1919 but never managed to leave the prototype stage.

French aviation pinoeer Louis Bechereau took over what would become the famous French aviation concern of "SPAD" ("Societe Pour l'Aviation et ese Derives") in 1914 and managed the company during the early part of World War 1 (1914-1918). He left the firm in early 1917 to establish "Soviete des Avions Bernard" which would go on to develop a slew of one-off aircraft under the 'Bernard' name. This left Andre Herbemont to carry the torch at SPAD, a company well-known for its successful line of biplane fighters, and his first design of note became the SPAD S.XV.

This biplane fighter was of largely traditional design. The wing mainplanes were of near-equal-span and parallel struts were used for bracing the members, creating a single bay arrangement. The fuselage relied on streamlining to achieve the desired aerodynamics and a well-rounded cowl ring was set over the engine compartment a the nose. The pilot's position (seated in an open-air cockpit) was positioned just ahead of midships while the fuselage tapered to the rear where a low-profile rudder was fitted. Horizontal planes were affixed to the sides of the empennage. The undercarriage was fixed and wheeled at the main leg members. Internally, the frame of the aircraft was of monocoque arrangement and wood and canvas featured heavily into the construction of this fighting aircraft.

Armament was 2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.
The first form of the aircraft - S.VI/1 - was outfitted with the Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine developing 160 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller (a large spinner was noticeably seated over the propeller hub). This aircraft achieved first-flight on July 31st, 1917.

The work then led to a second prototype in the S.XV/2. This version had a simplified engine fitting (lacking the spinner), extended wing mainplanes and a new tail design. It was evaluated from August 1917 onward but found wanting when matched against contemporaries. Dimensions of this model included a length of 5.35 meters, a height of 2.3 meters and a wingspan of 7.1 meters. Empty weight was 368 kilograms against a MTOW of 625 kg. Maximum speed reached 200 kilometers per hourand mission endurance was 2.5 hours.

The S.XV/3 then arrived with a lengthened fuselage to help work out control/stability issues and this variant flew sometime in January 1918. Still not perfected, the series evolved to include the S.XV/4 which installed the Rhone engine of 170-180 horsepower but appears to have only been worked on into late-April / early-May 1918.

By the time of the S.XV/5's arrival in 1919, the war was over (November 1918) and some additional work was conducted on the aircraft to serve in the air-racing role as there proved little need for a new biplane fighter in the post-war period. The S.XV/5 was developed into a pair of flyable prototypes and these were heavily modified from their wartime forms, carrying Le Rhone engines of 80 horsepower and featuring seating for two. At least one of these went to French Ace Rene Fonck.
SPAD S.XV/2 Specifications
National Flag Graphic
Year: 1919
Type: Biplane Fighter Prototype
Manufacturer(s): Societe Pour l'Avions et ses Derives (SPAD) - France
Production: 6
Supported Mission Types
Ground Attack
Close-Air Support
Airborne Early Warning
Electronic Warfare
Aerial Tanker
Passenger Industry
VIP Travel
Business Travel
Special Forces
Crew: 1
Length: 17.55 ft (5.35 m)
Width: 23.29 ft (7.10 m)
Height: 7.55 ft (2.30 m)
Empty Weight: 816 lb (370 kg)
MTOW: 1,378 lb (625 kg)

Installed Power
1 x Gnome Monosoupape rotary engine developing 160 horsepower and driving a two-bladed propeller at the nose.

Standard Day Performance
Maximum Speed: 124 mph (200 kph; 108 kts)
Maximum Range: 311 mi (500 km; 270 nm)

2 x 7.7mm Vickers machine guns in fixed, forward-firing mounts at the nose and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades.

Operators List
France (cancelled)

Series Model Variants
• S.XV - Base Series Designation
• S.XV/1 - Initial prototype of July 1917; large spinner at propeller hub.
• S.XV/2 - Revised wings and tailplanes; revised engine installation; sans spinner; model of mid-1917.
• S.XV/3 - Lengthened fuselage; model of early-1918.
• S.XV/4 - Fitted with Rhone engine of 170/180 horsepower; abandoned development of 1918.
• S.XV/5 - Pair of modified post-war S.XV for air-racing; two-seater with Le Rhone engines of 80 horsepower.

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