Spitfire


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The subject of this page is a 1980-vintage Veron Tru Flite model that has modifications borrowed from Doug McHard who adapted a rubber-powered model to CO2 power. My model somehow became a static. About 10 years later, it performed a promotional role in a magazine item but sadly it never saw any real action. Bin or rework? Seeing a rubber-powered Spitfire fly in a YouTube video made the decision easy

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The Tru-Flite plan which I chose not to follow in every respect: no undercarriage, laminated leading edge for the wing, lighter fin and stabilizer, much modified nose block, molded canopy...

The airframe without nose block and including the painted tissue weighs 24 grams. There is an opportunity to save weight behind the CG by removing some stringers and changing to foam for the fin and stabilizer. Sanding off all the old tissue could be a dreary task.

Carefully stripped of it's brittle painted tissue, the bones emerge. The holes pertaining to the CO2 engine installation have been filled in and the fixed part of the new nose block is in place.

Here are the main parts of the new nose block: a socket-and-plug principle with a “keyed” shape that is really unnecessary because the spit's nose is not symmetrical and there will be little chance of incorrect assembly when winding the rubber. The hollow frame is to be glued in the recess prepared in the fuselage, the keyed block will be glued to the removable nose piece.

The covering process is taken to hand! Here the bottom of the wing has been done in medium weight tissue because all landings will be of the belly-variety as no u/c is fitted. The first half of the fuselage has been dealt with in one piece. The frame is pre-doped and the tissue applied wet. When satisfied with the tissue position, thinners are run through the tissue to fix it to the doped framework.

In order to obtain tip washout (slightly upturned trailing edge) the wing halves are pinned to the building board with a small wedge. Any remaining wrinkles are now removed from the dampened tissue after which thinners can be run through the edges in order to fix it to the frame.

In order to prevent unwanted warps while doping underneath the wings, these are again pinned down but with opposite support of the outlines. If your chair swivels then beware of the fuselage hanging over the edge of the table.

For the impatient: a small fan speeds up the drying process and also moves evaporating thinners away from the hovering nose.

The original fin, now modified with a separate rudder, receives new tissue covering. The idea to make a new one from plastic foam was dropped because it would hardly be lighter and certainly not stronger. As a bonus, the stick-and-tissue version simply looks nicer. The stabilizer will be re-made from foam however, because it facilitates easy elevator adjustment and above all resists warping.

Early Battle of Britain colors have now been applied. The fresh cockpit bubble awaits frame details but the old pilot needs no improvements and can go straight in. Next up are the 3-bladed airscrew, spinner, exhaust stubs, registration letters, insignia and many details – old school model building.

What started off as a lady's night goody bag gift – a can full of ladies' treats – ended up as a tool for shaping (twisting) prop blades. Enough to make marketing folk wince no doubt, but a decent recycling effort I believe. The prop blades are a lamination of thin ply and balsa and white wood glue, tightly strapped to the can at a 20 degree angle and baked off at 100° C for an hour or two.

The shaped blades together with the beginnings of a laminated balsa spinner.

The laminated spinner is turned on a improvised lathe.

The spinner is marked in 3 places for the prop blade slots.

The 3-blader's efficiency is not my greatest doubt – I wonder about it's strength. For indoor flying I shall probably resort to a 2-bladed one because the Spit has no landing gear.

On the very first picture of this web page you can see the model with sprayed-on registration letters. In spite of the decades that have passed, I recall the amount of work involved and my dissatisfaction with the results. On this occasion my decal procedure is resorted to: old-fashioned gummed paper tape is doped and painted after which a template is used to cut out the insignia. The template is from a internet-sourced picture worked in PaintShopPro as I could not discover a suitable font.

Foul winter weather means plenty of time for model building activity. There are still details to be taken care of such as the new exhaust stubs and, oh dear, the small black serial numbers on the tail.

The side view exposes the lengthened nose for rubber drive purposes, but perhaps that can be disguised somewhat with the new exhaust system and some panel lines.

The nose of a real Spit , one of the older types showing the exhaust manifolds that would later be succeeded by individual stubs for each cylinder.

Hmm – needs more black.

Angels on the internet supply you with anything that you need – but only when you no longer need it!

Wrote my own serial numbers but perhaps I should have printed them. Same waterslide transfer sytem as the insignia.

Including the airscrew the entire empty model now weighs in at 33 grams which is not too bad in view of all the color decorations. No additional ballast should be needed.




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