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Vertigo Studios are well known for their renditions of US Navy warbirds like the F9F Panther, SBD Dauntless or TBM Avenger, to name just a few. Leaving the World War II era behind, Vertigo started a new ambitioned project – the “Great War Project”, bringing us warbird enthusiasts the first pay ware World War I warplanes with true VRS TacPack support.

The first release of the series is the SPAD S.VII, a plane well known to the broad public thanks to the Hollywood movie “Flyboys”.

SPAD S.VII threeship
SPAD S.VII threeship

The S.VII was the first design of a highly successful series of bi-planes by French aircraft manufacturer Société Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD). The S.VII had it’s first flight in 1916 and saw wide use in the FrenchAéronautique Militaire, the Belgian Aviation Militaire Belge, Italy’s Corpo Aeronautico Militare, the BritishRoyal Flying Corps and the United States Army Air Service. It was further used by several other nations throughout the war in smaller numbers and the SPAD soldiered on after the war, when surplus airframes were given to a large variety of Air Forces worldwide.
The SPAD S.VII was designed around the modified Hispana-Suiza V8 automobile engine, dubbed the 8A, producing 150 bhp in the initial variant, giving the SPAD a top speed of a 192 km/h and climb performance of 4.5 minutes to reach an altitude of 2000m.
The SPAD was renowned as a rugged and sturdy design, being more than just a match for the contemporary German Albatross D.V fighters. Allied top aces like Italian Francesco Baracca and Frenchman Georges Guynemer flew the SPAD with great success.

Italian top Aces Francesco Baracca in formation with France's ace Georges Guynemer
Italian top Aces Francesco Baracca in formation with France’s ace Georges Guynemer

In the sim

The installer is 140 MB in size and includes the SPAD itself and the detailed manual. The WW1 scenery described in the manual, is not yet part of the product, it should be available in an update. On the Vertigo homepage you can further download a layered paint kit in common PSD format.
Installation into FSX and P3D 2.5 works without any problems, as does the TacPack integration (given you have the VRS TacPack installed of course).
Vertigo Studios supplies no less than 15 paint variants, covering all major users of the SPAD, including the personal mounts of famous aces Georges Guynemer and Francesco Baracca.

A small config tool gives you the opportunity to add a RFC style Lewis gun on the top wing, show or hide the pilot, reload the ammo and select the startup state of the plane, i.e. ready to fly or cold and dark.

Cold start of the Hispano-Suiza 8A
Cold start of the Hispano-Suiza 8A

Vertigo’s SPAD S.VII is very nicely detailed and the 4096px HD textures turn this little plane into a real eye catcher. All the struts and tension wires are recreated in fine detail, just like the original.
The virtual cockpit of the SPAD is crowded, compared to other aircraft of that time, with all the gauges and handles in the right place. Comparing the cockpit to the real SPAD is quite hard and was a challenge for Vertigo during the development. A lot SPADs in museums are often a mixture of early S.VII and later S. XIII models, which featured a totally different cockpit layout.

Beautiful wooden cockpit
Beautiful wooden cockpit

If you own a joystick with integrated rudder control, you can assign to it a pretty unique feature of the SPAD S.VII – its throttle was incorporated into the control stick, a classic throttle lever was used on later SPAD models.

I was somewhat disappointed by the sound at first. It appears “thin” and misses the impressive roar of other contemporary engines. But Vertigo state the sounds were recorded from a real surviving Hispano-Suiza 8A engine and checking some Youtube videos of the SPAD proves them right.

The flight model is something totally different from what I was used to from my other warbirds. Flying the SPAD literally means flying it from start to landing with the hand at the stick all the time. The SPAD had no trim and depending on the fuel and ammo level it has a nose down attitude, requiring to slight pull back on the controls all the time. Let go of the stick to grab a coffee and your little fighter will enter a dive.
Overall the flight model feels a little simplified compared to what I would expect it from a bi-plane like this, though it is relatively close to the one of the Rise of Flight SPAD S.VII.

Let’s have a look at TacPack, one of the major selling points and a feature that makes the SPAD unique in its class.
Of course there are no sophisticated weapon systems onboard a fighter plane from the Great War. The standard armament of the SPAD S.VII is a single Vickers machine gun, mounted on top of the engine in front of the pilot. There is no arming switch, so just use the button assigned as trigger in the TacPack configurator to fire your Vickers.
The British Royal Flying Corps also experimented with an additional Lewis machine gun mounted on the top wing, a design that proved very successful on the S.E.5 fighters. Vertigo gives us the option to use this Lewis gun as well through the config window. Just as with the Vickers, no arming switch is needed and the gun is mapped to the pickle function in TacPack.

Testing the TacPack compatibility firing the wing mounted Lewis machine gun
Testing the TacPack compatibility firing the wing mounted Lewis machine gun

I tested the SPAD in dogfight against the Fokker Dr. I and TacPack worked fine in both FSX and P3D. The guns do not fire tracers, but unlike other add-ons the bullets really end up where you expect them to, making the SPAD a real nice weapons platform.

Conclusion

“Is it like Accusim?” is a question I was asked frequently. No, it is not. And with the little historical data available this would hardly be possible anyway. But what you can expect from Vertigo Studios’ SPAD is a beautiful detailed 3D model with excellent textures, realistic ambient and engine sounds and a solid flight model. And thanks to TacPack you get a lot of fun, without having to pay additional fees like at other developers.
If you are used to Accusim and you are just looking for a new warbird, you will probably get bored quickly, but if you are into Great War warplanes, like I am ever since I was a little child – then this SPAD is a must have. And I am grateful to Vertigo that they start covering an era of flying that so far was left pretty much unattended!

Test System:

Processor (CPU): Intel Core i7 CPU 4790k @ 4.6 GHz
Memory (RAM): 16 GB
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970
System type: 64-bit operating system
Operating system: Windows 10 Home Premium
Primary monitor resolution: 1920×1080
Prepard3D 2.5

 

SPAD VII d

Spad Aces 2

Flying low over the Belgian countryside
Flying low over the Belgian countryside
Close formation with a Polish Sopwith Pub, showing the quality of the SPADs textureing
Close formation with a Polish Sopwith Pub, showing the quality of the SPADs texturing
TacPack dogfight
TacPack dogfight


Prepar3D 2015-08-27 15-47-54-25Prepar3D 2015-08-27 15-47-11-50

Common location for a compass in WW1 aircraft
Common location for a compass in WW1 aircraft
Steering wires and the wooden rudder pedals
Steering wires and the wooden rudder pedals


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