Spitfire Progress – Things are coming together (literally!)

Welcome to another, and long overdue, update on the restoration of Spitfire RW388. If you haven’t already seen them, our previous updates are all still available in the blog archives. The final stages of work are now all drawing together as even more parts of the aeroplane are fitted and fixed into place. So let’s not waste any time and jump straight in!

Fuselage

Lots of the most recent work has concentrated on completing the various sections of the fuselage to that they can be fitted together. Four missing circular access panels have been replaced and fastened in position. The front top fuel tank has been fitted along with its cowling – which has now enabled the windscreen to be finally bolted into position.

The windscreen is now bolted into position
Green paint added to the engine cowlings

The aerial has been trial fitted and the application of vinyl stencils for detailed lettering around various access panels is currently underway.

Test fitting the aerial
Replica vinyl placard added to the inside of the radio access door

Cockpit

The cockpit is now almost completely kitted out. The gunsight and radio selector have been permanently fitted. Many replica placards have been produced in vinyl and been fixed alongside corresponding instruments or controls. Where original placards still survive, these have all been cleaned and repainted.

Gunsight fixed in position
Radio selector
Cockpit details including vinyl placard

One of the largest fixtures is still to be installed: the seat. However, this complicated assembly is nearing completion, with rear frame finished and a suitable canvas cushion supplied.

Seat under construction

Engine

While the main block of the Merlin 266 survived, many small components parts have been sourced to replace missing items. Parts recently fitted include the generator, fuel pump, magneto, compressor, and spark plugs. The specially shaped header tank has also been fitted.

Header tank fitted at the front of the engine

Wings

The main paint spraying on the port (left) wing has been competed with the grey and green late-war camouflage scheme. Replacement gun access panels have been manufactured and paint applied to the Perspex wingtip navigation lights.

Port wing after paint spraying

Replica gun fairings have arrived at the workshop and are awaiting painting after being test fitted to the wing.

Test fitting the replica gun fairings

With the port wing completed, the starboard (right) wing is now due to receive its final coats of paint in the coming week or so. Various vinyl stencils have been prepared in order to apply detail markings, like the roundels, once both wings are ready.

Empennage

Lots of time has gone into getting the rear of the aeroplane finished so it can be attached to the fuselage. Work on the tail was also recently captured by a film crew as part of an upcoming documentary about Airfix model kits!

The tail gets its 15 minutes of fame

The old canvas on the rudder frame was in too poor condition to retain. Fresh fabric has been fitted and painted. It was possible to include a clear window to allow the data plate to be seen.

Rudder test fitted with a replacement fabric skin

That’s all for this latest update. Everything is now getting very close to completion and the final test assembly is on the horizon.

If you want more Spitfire content in the meantime, why not check out our recent Science of the Spitfire blogs? Or, why not have a look at some of our online collections relating to the Second World War?

Written by Joe Perry (Curator, Local History)

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