Spitfire Progress – More Paint, More Parts

Welcome to another edition of the Spitfire Progress Report. Things have understandably slowed recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic. However, where practical, some members of MAPSL are continuing to work on replica parts from home (a bit like the original dispersed production of Spitfires during the Second World War!)[1]

The time-consuming task of sourcing missing engine components has progressed including the recent purchase and restoration of a generator and mounting bracket. Additionally, the many loose electrical sockets, clamps and other fittings that were sent to MAPSL have been identified, sorted and reattached to the engine bearer frame.

Generator, acquired for RW388’s Merlin 266 engine.

Painting has begun on the fuselage, but there has been some concern over the paint finish appearing too glossy. This has now been rectified with a more authentic ‘satin’ type finish. The Spitfire was probably originally painted with a completely matt finish, but this is liable to show wear and marks much easier, so most heritage aircraft use an egg-shell or satin-type paint to help preserve the finish for as long as possible.

The difference between gloss and satin finishes

Cleaning has continued on the interior of the rear fuselage, revealing various components including battery clamp straps, one tensioner, and an unidentified clamp. These objects have all been cleaned and, in the case of the battery clamp straps, primed. The tensioner was also used as a pattern to produce a duplicate replica. Many other small original and replica items have continued be sourced, mainly for the cockpit area. Some have needed restoration work which has been completed and they await their turn to be fitted to the airframe.

Also completed during this time is the instrument panel and control column. It’s so exciting imagine RW388 with a kitted out cockpit for the first time since it was given to the City. Some of the larger objects based in the fuselage are also being restored such an oil tank and an air cylinder.

The completed instrument panel
Control column trial fitted to a rudder pedal support frame previously donated by the Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger.

The main wheels have been dismantled, paint stripped, etched and repainted silver. They await collection for foam filling[2]. Likewise, the steel inner brake rings have been cleaned and painted in red oxide primer followed by silver.

Close up on repainted metalwork on the wheels

Fibreglass cannon cowlings are currently being manufactured.

The rudder has been etch primed and is ready to be recovered with fabric. A local aero engineer in the Medway area will be running a ‘Master Class’ for MAPSL members on this rare and skilled process.

Rudder, etch primed and awaiting a new fabric covering

So that’s it for this latest round up of progress. We’re living in strange times so stay safe, stay home if you can, and I look forward to bringing you more updates on the Spitfire when life gets back to normal.

[1] During the war, manufacturing was dispersed across the country and separated out to many different sites. This way, if one factory was bombed, the supply chain was much less disrupted.

[2] This is a popular option for static, display aircraft  and is an alternative to inflating the tyres with air, which will slowly deflate over time.

Written by Joe Perry (Curator, Local History)

2 thoughts on “Spitfire Progress – More Paint, More Parts”

  1. Jason Darren Johnson says:

    Can’t wait!!, will be emotional to see it return eventually in all it’s splendour. How about an up-date article on here about the progress of the new extension/spitfire housing?.

    1. Joe Perry (Curator, Local History) says:

      That’s a good suggestion Jason. The build is in it’s early stages but we’ll certainly be bringing out an update in the near future.

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