Spitfire Progress- Peeling back the Paint
Late in 2018 I took a trip to visit the Medway Aircraft Preservation Society at Rochester Airport. The team have been busy on the restoration of Spitfire RW388 and work will continue in 2019.
One of the big jobs has been to strip away layers of paint from the wings and fuselage in order to re-prime and paint them with the correct finishes and colours. Below you can see the one of the wings stripped and primed ready for repainting.
During my visit I was able to see different parts of the aircraft at various stages of paint stripping. Each layer provides evidence for important chapters in the aircraft’s history.
The most recent paint layer probably dates from the 1980s. The colours were right but the finish was too glossy. Most importantly, the surface wasn’t well prepared in advance of painting which caused issues with peeling later one. Needless to say, this layer came off very easily.
As layers disappeared, patches of brown paint appeared. We know that RW388 was ‘dressed-up’ as an earlier Mk.V Spitfire during the 1960s. This would have included the brown and green camouflage scheme used earlier in the Second World War.
The stripping also revealed some past mistakes. Evidence of a roundel painted onto the aircraft in the wrong position. When the wing was fitted the bottom would have been cut off!
Finally, at the very bottom, a silver layer – likely the same silver RW388 wore was a Gate Guardian in the 1950s and early 1960s. This layer was much more difficult to remove as the aircraft had been well primed before it was applied. Hopefully the new paint job on RW388 will be just as hard wearing!
The inside of the fuselage is yet to be cleaned and repainted, but we will be taking a cautious approach. There are lots of authentic cable and pipe runs still in-situ, so we want to preserve them and work around them as much as possible.
As ever, keep your eyes on our social media and blog for more updates on Spitfire RW388’s progress during 2019..