The Spad XIII was one of the better fighters in WW1, built from a French design, packing Vickers guns and up to 200 horsepower.  After 1917, German fighters began to catch up, but it was still in production at the end of the war.  

The Spad held it togther in a dive, something it's predecessor Nieuport couldn't do, shedding it's upper wing from time to time.  Eventually every French front line squadron was equipped with these planes. They were also used by the Royal Air Force's No. 23 Squadron, and the Americans.  There were plenty of notable pilots, including Georges Guynemer, Rene Fonck and even Eddie Rickenbacker.

picture of Rickenbacker's Spad

You can see one of these planes if you visit the States, at the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. However, if you can't make it, you can sit in one (although virtually) on the Museum's web site.  Early aircraft are mesmerizing, as nothing is hidden, and you can see how some things evolved by comparing them to modern aircraft.  It's also amazing how well built they were, and how early on they figured out how to make something sturdy and light at the same time.  It's also refreshing not to see plastic anywhere. 

picture of Spad cockpit

The Spad's virtual cockpit

Nirbheek, a Hindi word for "Fearless", was released this month by the Indian Ordnance Factory. It is a lightweight copy of an old Webley Mk IV, designed to be used by women.  Lightweight probably means titanium, and the little revolver is chambered for the .32 long and short cartridges.  Most military handgun cartridges are illegal in India, though that is being relaxed in area's that have higher terrorist threats. There is also an added safety, the earlier Webley revolver did not have.  The Ordnance Factories are India's Military Industrial Complex and were formed as early as the 1700's when the Brits ruled the roost. 

picture of Nirbheek revolver

The recent gang rapes in India prompted the manufacture of this gun.  India has a lot of guns, probably over 40 million already, most of which are not registered.  It's hard to say it this gun will have any effect, as a women convicted of killing someone with it is liable to get life, rape or no rape.  The Nirbheek is expected to bring $2000. US.


picture of Nirbheek flyer