Spitfire Progress – New Year Edition
We begin 2020 with a fresh update on the restoration of Spitfire RW388. The aircraft remains at the workshops of the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society Ltd (MAPSL) as it enters the next phase. Work slowed towards the end of 2019 due to the planned redevelopment of Rocester Airport, which includes an archaeological excavation of both Iron Age and Roman remains! However, there are still a number of areas to report on.
Oil and water pipes from the engine are being cleaned then lacquered to protect them from corrosion. MAPSL are using original schematic diagrams to identify exactly where each pipe needs to positioned. Other small fittings from the engine including clamps, electrical sockets, and other components, are similarly in the process of being cleaned up.
Recent efforts have concentrated on the area between frames 5 and 8 where the front fuel tanks are situated. The tanks themselves have been cautiously cleaned to remove grime, but without removing original chalk marks, lettering or patina. In-situ cables, pipes and hoses have been identified, cleaned and tidied, a time consuming job! Once each area is clean and tidy a coat of clear lacquer is applied to ensure the bare metal is resistant to corrosion.
Externally, spray painting has begun following the green-grey colour scheme of late-war Spitfires. The lower surfaces will be Medium Sea Grey, with the upper surfaces treated in Ocean Grey. Dark Green will follow to complete the camo pattern for the upper surface of the plane. Originally the aircraft would have had a completely matt finish, but we are opting for a slight silk finish. This is commonly used on static museum craft as its longer wearing.
The procurement and manufacture of cockpit accessories and controls has continued. The gyro gun site support structure has been completed and primed and the control column is now a complete assembly. Also completed recently is a replica crash crowbar which would have been stored on the inside of the pilot’s door for emergency use.
The fear fuselage and tail unit are now ready to be sprayed in the two shades of grey, and silvered internally.
A culmination of research by MAPSL, Operation Spitfire, and ourselves, is slowly building the most detailed history of RW388 we’ve ever known. I’m looking forward to sharing the results of this progress in future posts.