Monday, July 16, 2007

A Spitfire starts to take shape

As a young child, as far back as kindergarten I've always been enthusiastic about things that fly. In the first grade my mother got complaints from the teacher that I was always making engine noises and looking out the window at the sky. This interest in flying things recently motivated me to start building a control line stunt model of the Supermarine Spitfire.

This one will have a wingspan of about 48" and be powered by a Fox .35 Stunt engine (an engine design that has remained virtually unchanged for almost 60 years!). The pic is an in progress shot of the wing. This isn't a kit, this one is 100% scratch built from a set of age yellowed plans I've had laying around for about 30 years.

My current plan is to cover this airplane with a traditional doped silk finish. Doped silk has largely fallen by the wayside in favor of heat shrinkable plastic coverings, but the plastics really are a poor substitute. They simply don't have the feel and look of the classic doped silk finish. This whole airplane is being built using "old school" methods, and will be running an old school engine, so it should be finished using old school methods as well.

Any fool can breeze into a hobby shop and plunk down a few hundred bucks on some almost ready to fly R/C model that's been prebuilt and precovered with plastic (and built by some starving wretch in China or Vietnam with dubious methods and materials.

To do it yourself, from scratch, using traditional methods is a whole different thing. Opening a wallet isn't an accomplishment. Completing this model will be.


Douglas said...

I didn't have the money, or to tell the truth, the discipline to ever do stuff like that, but I did have a subscription to RC Modeler when I was in middle school for a few years. Just reading about that stuff was fascinating. I was less an air guy and more a car guy, but two of my best friends had all the classic fighter, or bomber statistics memorized.

Purple Avenger said...

The cost isn't too bad when you're scratch building from a set of plans. This plane probably will have less than $25 worth of wood and hardware in it when all is said and done. Maybe another $10 worth of silk and aircraft dope when its finished.

A decent used Fox .35 can be picked up on eBay these days for about $35, a new one is around $65.

The local fabric shops were wanting about $20/yard for the silk (5mm Habotai), but there's a place in California that's selling 11 yard bolts for under $25, so I'm going to buy an 11 yard bolt which is enough to cover quite a few airplanes.

Cuffy Meigs said...

Cool! Can't wait to see the finished product. I think all the Testers glue I used building models as a kid explains many things today...

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