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Bri2k

The Studebaker-Packard Aero Division "Year Zero" SPAD

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The Studebaker-Packard Aero Division "SPAD" XSP-1A heavy attack prototype featured large dive-brakes to slow it down (ha ha ha!) in the attack run and had built-in armament of six auto-cannons in the wings and one machine gun mounted between the engine cylinders which was synchronized to fire through the propeller. This gun was usually loaded with tracers for sighting purposes. 

 

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The XSP-1A was powered by the enormous(-ly over-rated) Bratt & Brittney 11 cylinder radial engine which would become a hallmark in the annals of unreliability. Unfortunately, despite the heavy armament and potent-on-paper power plant, the SPAD XSP-1A would be hampered by kinks that were never quite worked out.

 

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This and the fact that hung-over Navy personnel mis-interpreted the SP designation as Shore Patrol doomed the experimental heavy attack plane to ignominy.

 

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Unfortunately, by the time the new prototype flunked flight tests, a pre-production batch had already been delivered, perhaps due to a BuAer error. These aircraft were passed on to the Cambodian air force where they served in the "low and slow" interdiction role on counter-insurgency ops.

 

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The SPAD XSP-1A is shown here with a unique Cambodian load-out consisting of two specially adapted French Mitrailleuse recoilless rifles along with two 150 kg. bombs and four Mk. 32 HEAT round HVARs.

 

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While attrition took its toll, the XSP-1As continued to serve until the very last one was grounded due to lack of spares at the start of the Lon Nol palindrome regime. 

 

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Unfortunately, the Studebaker-Packard had little parts commonality with its more successful Douglas cousin. 

 

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However, the obvious influence of the XSP-1A on the Skyraider shows the design's promise even if Studebaker-Packard's execution was poor.

 

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Only one SPAD XSP-1A remained when the Khmer Rouge took over and found it derelict in back of the boneyard. As part of their "Year Zero" initiative, the flightless SPAD was hailed by Khmer Rouge defense chief "Ta Mok" or "Brother #5" as the epitome of a classless communist agrarian utopia since despite all its expensive capitalist technology, it was unable to get airborne. Urged by Pol Pot or "Brother #1", 

 

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the Khmer Rouge's Angkor organization trumpeted the success of the XSP-1A's political re-education with propaganda praising the aircraft's determination to remain ground-bound in solidarity with the proletariat. This was lauded as a shining example of Angkor's ideological superiority.

 

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Unfortunately, nothing remains of this almost-historic Studebaker-Packard aircraft today. The sole survivor was obliterated by a mortar round during the 1979 Vietnamese invasion. 

 

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The cottage industry 1/72 scale Khmer Conversions set is shown here with the Airfix A-1D finished in the markings it wore during its glory days when it could still fly. The set was briefly sold at Aunt Penny's Hobby Emporium in Phnom Penh before it went out of business and only this example is known to have been built. Sadly, it still didn't end out looking like the nice picture on the box.

 

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This was a bagged 1/72 MPC/Airfix Douglas Skyraider that was missing the canopy, engine and cowling. A Monogram Banshee canopy and Airfix Devastator engine & cowl were used as replacements topped off with a P-47 prop. The model was brush-painted by hand with acrylics and the decals were all spares.

 

 

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Bri2k

Edited by Bri2k

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