I found an interesting book at the library An American Pursuit Pilot in France 1917-1919. It's a book compiled from the diary and letters home of Roland Withenbury Richardson who flew with the 213th Squadron of the American Expeditionary Forces. With my penchant for the unique and unusual I thought this would be a good project to put together. There are just way too many models of Frank Luke and Eddie Rickenbacker. It's been done. I want to do something different.
This is going to be a 1/72 scale build. I just don't have room for anything larger. In fact I probably don't have room for this size either but I'm going to do it anyway.
So I have been gathering my research materials for a while now.
But after much searching, finding nothing, searching again, finding nothing, and searching again, I finally found a shop online and ordered some decals from New Zeland. Whew! Well those decals were for two other pilots not mentioned in the book. Bummer. But I got the insignia!
There's not much out there on the internet photographically on this squadron but I looked up and read what I could, and I'm going to go by pictures in the book; like the one above, and the wings pallete plate below.
Now for some history:
Lt. Richardson was assigned to 213th Squadron and transferred to the front lines in the summer of 1918. On August 19th he received his new machine; a Spad XIII #15804. (One of the book references says #15304 so who knows - I guess it was difficult to read the handwriting in his diary.)Unfortunately he never says what number was assigned on the side, but he did fly or ferry planes #24 & #26 so I think I may use one of those. (plus there is a #6 & a #4 in the decal set -- I only have to paint the #2s)
Two days after receiving his new machine and getting it all tuned up and fixed up he took it out on a test flight and upon landing the left wheel collapsed and it flipped over. He didn't have any injuries but there was a lot of damage to the plane. He says in his diary and a letter home to mother that his top wing had to be replaced and the only one available was an old style with the rounded tips. (Yay! Something unique and different to modify on the model!)
From this first impression of the Spad Lt. Richardson seemed to develop a skepticism toward these planes. He was always working on his and describing oil leaks, magnetos just falling apart, throttle rods coming loose in flight, etc. He was certain that the French were selling the US all of the rejects, rebuilt crashes, and planes built out of nothing but spare parts (Frankenstein) and keeping all of the factory fresh planes for themselves.
Stationed near Valcouleurs he was finally able to get his machine back in flying condition. On September 14, 1918, Lt. Richardson was on a patrol flight with Lt. Gaillard and Captain Charles Grey, flight commander. Together they were able to swoop down on a red Fokker monoplane (the specific model was never identified) and take it down. They split credit for the kill as they all got shots in (estimated 300 rounds fired) so this is the group I'm going to attempt to build.
I have found several pictures, examples of the #1 plane of Cpt. Grey.
The rest I'm just going to have to fake a little. I haven't found any good overhead photos of the group as far as any numbering position on the top wing and certainly can't find any of the bottoms. My intention was never to be absolutely historically accurate or to build a museum piece, I just want to be reasonably close.
So there it is. I'm committed to the build. Hopefully I'll be able to make time and keep it moving. I'm sure there are articles and whatnot in some periodicals like Cross and Cockade but I didn't want to spend and eternity and a small fortune on research for this. But if there is anyone out there with more information, especially pictures, on the 213th Squadron please kindly point me in that direction.