Friday, 30th August, 2013
Welcome to my new workshop diary, in which over the following months and years I hope to record the key stages in the construction of my 1:5 scale Mk IX Spitfire.
I stress the word years, for these big models are not quick-builds: my Spitfire Mk I spanned 11 summers, and my P-51D occupied much of my spare time over the better part of a decade. Two years ago I took early retirement, so the current project should, in theory, move faster, yet even when tackled full-time, such endeavours serve as a reminder of one's own mortality; and there are, as my wife rightly reminds me, many other things to occupy a balanced retirement than model engineering!
Why another Spitfire, when a Hurricane would so neatly make up the triumvirate?
The answer is in a single word: ‘drawings’. While I have managed to collect an already burgeoning file of ‘Hurri’ material, much of it on DVD and including many Hawker production drawings of key components and assemblies, I do not have the all-important fuselage and wing sections that underpin all models, large and small. What I do have is Paul Monforton’s magnificent 1:5 scale sheets of the Mk IX Spitfire and, his matchless book, Spitfire Engineered, plus a sizeable library of references that is the legacy of my first Spitfire project. The extent, quality and provenance of the Monforton material alone make the choice of subject a ‘no brainer’!
The Mk IX is sufficiently different to make things interesting, and I have a superb example close at hand: The Old Flying Machine Company’s MH434 resides just 15 minutes away at Duxford Airfield.
I began my latest project in March 2013, so as I write, the work is approaching its first six-month mark. Over the next few months, I’ll endeavour in this blog to catch up in words and pictures on progress so far, and to keep pace with the highspots (and lows) of the build thereafter. I hope it proves of interest.
But before proceeding, the inevitable disclaimer: While I make every effort to verify the accuracy of the information contained in my diary and elsewhere on this website, I cannot guarantee that my work is error-free. I believe that I research my subjects in depth, but at the end of it all I am a model maker and not an expert on the construction, systems and workings of the Supermarine Spitfire. Just as I occasionally spot mistakes in the work of others when writing about this wonderful aircraft, doubtless I have made howlers of my own. I hope only that as such are the exception to the rule and that my readers will politely nudge me when I go astray.