Spitfire Progress – Old Paint and New Parts

Work continues at Medway Aircraft Preservation Society Ltd (MAPSL) readying Spitfire RW388 for its return to the city in 2020. If you haven’t already, check out our previous Spitfire blogs for the story so far.

One of the first jobs MAPSL needed to do was strip layers of old paint in order to prime and repaint the aircraft to a proper, long-lasting finish. We’ve mentioned this in previous blogs – but work still continues to strip paint from the fuselage.

RW388 had many parts removed before being donated to the city in 1969, as such, there are a number of things to acquire or manufacture, not least equipment and instruments to fit out the cockpit.


The difficult task of stripping paint from the fuselage has continued, having reached a particularly stubborn silver layer. The inside of the fuselage has also begun to be gently cleaned so as not to have to tamper with cable and pipe runs that are still fitted in their original locations.

Items for the cockpit have begun to be sourced including a compass, flight, and engine instruments and a large control switch for the gun site.

The fuselage is missing three structural assemblies that support the rigidity of the cockpit sides and the heavily-armoured front glazing. MAPSL have thanked Biggin Hill Heritage Hanger for loaning them three original structural assemblies in order to manufacture replicas.


The wing have been completely stripped and primed and have gone into temporary store whilst work on other elements continues.

The ailerons have been stripped of old paint, allowing a fuller survey of their condition. They seem to have sustained damage in the past when non-standard holes were cut into the thin sheet skin covering to remove the hinge brackets. Work is now ongoing to manufacture replacement brackets.

Despite damage in some areas, the data plate for the port aileron survives and is good condition.

Elevator and Rudder

The elevator controls the pitch of an aircraft when in flight. MAPSL have been restoring its structure and applying new lower skins. They recently test-fitted the elevator to the aircraft.

The rudder, which was fabric covered and in bad condition, was found to have several poor, historic repairs to the fragile frame. A combination of a wooden strip, electrical table and thin wire had been employed to hold it all together!

As ever, keep your eyes peeled for future updates on the progress of spitfire RW388.

Written by Joe Perry (Curator, Local History)

One thought on “Spitfire Progress – Old Paint and New Parts”

  1. mark white says:

    great news, keep up the good work chaps

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