PHX Perspective

SPAD XIII Flies High in Terminal 3

Travelers coming through Terminal 3 will notice a large aircraft hanging from the ceiling. Just what is this? In December 2007, a restored SPAD XIII aircraft was installed and dedicated. The vintage aircraft which is on display contains 80 percent original parts from three SPAD aircrafts and 20 percent replicated parts and has a wooden airframe and fabric covered wings.

The plane was designed in 1917 to off-set the twin gun planes that the Germans flew during World War I combat, and by early 1918 it was the standard combat plane in France. In comparison to previous SPAD designs, the SPAD XIII had a greater wing span and allowed for synchronized armament of two machine guns. And, because the United States entered World War I without combat-ready fighters, they obtained the SPAD XIII aircrafts from the Allies.

This particular plane was restored by GossHawk Unlimited, a company located in Casa Grande, Ariz., specializing in the restoration of vintage and warbird aircrafts. The aircraft was restored with the original markings of the 27th Squadron of the First Pursuit Group in which Frank Luke Jr., local WWI hero known as the “Arizona Balloon Buster,” was a member. In fact, the restored aircraft is replicated with the exact colors taken from the 27th Squadron’s planes using color swatches, the French lettering style used on the numbers and a very rare water-cooled, powerful original Hispano-Suiza engine with top speeds of 138 mph and a maximum range/endurance of two hours.

View the video on the right to see how the SPAD XIII was installed.


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