Spitfire in my workshop. David Glen BSc (Hons) MSc: Model Maker, Journalist David Glen

The gear strut channels


Friday, 4th November, 2016

I like to think that wherever the eye is free to probe my models embody a high level of accuracy and detail. Any compromises in my Spitfire Mk IX – and there are some – are hopefully confined to areas that are nearly but not quite as inaccessible to scrutiny as the dark side of the moon. One of these is the internal wing ducting fore and aft of the radiator/oil cooler blocks; another is the under-wing gear strut arches, which concern us here.

 

I have deliberately omitted the massive gear strut pintles and their uplock/downlock arms, and for the same reason that I left out the Merlin from under the engine cowlings: I am a human being of finite years!  I also confess to some sloppy planning at the conceptual stage of the model that has subsequently resulted in two large and ugly wing bolts being visible on the upper main spar within each channel.  Given these rather major but obscure deviations from the straight and narrow, it seemed illogical to go to enormous pains with any accompanying and more trifling internal features that would be accessible only to someone craning beneath the wing with a mirror and a torch.

 

So after the surrounding woodwork had been made good (as described in my previous blog), I spent a day and a half lining out the gear strut channels with litho plate, and adding some basic wing rib detail and L-section stiffeners so that the area would be credible to a first approximation.

 

With that done, the way was open for me to consolidate and complete the surrounding under-wing surface by creating the inward and forward sloping channel outline. My pictures show how I did this, using a framework of mahogany strip to delineate its geometry before infilling the ensuing rectilinear spaces with 1/8-in. balsa wood. Superglue makes this job very strong indeed, and the eventual litho plate skin will make it stronger still.  

 


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The starboard under-wing shortly after assembly to the fuselage. The woodwork still requires some making good and the yawning gear strut channel lacks its litho plate lining. The rectangular area at the top of the picture marks the site of the radiator and oil cooler fairing.
Basic detail has been added in the form of ribs and stiffeners.
The shape of the opening in the under-skin is now defined by a framework of hardwood strip.
The remaining gaps are infilled with balsa sheet and sanded flush. Note the hardwood extension to the curve of the wheel well and the lobe shaped projection just forward of the gear strut.
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