An unsought interlude
Monday, 2nd December, 2013
I am sure all model makers, even the professionals among us, have their barren periods, those unwelcome interludes in which for no apparent reason zeal surrenders to lethargy. Since returning with Eva from our October break in the West Highlands of Scotland I have hardly opened my workshop door, succumbing to apathy and indecision, divorced from anything remotely practical, let alone creative. I walk the dog, read fitfully and dither, hovering on the edge of this and the periphery of that, committing to little of consequence. That my mood should come with shortening days is probably no accident when beyond my window are louring skies, and the fallen leaves that cloak a soggy and forlorn landscape seem resonant with despond.
But all is not wasted. Courtesy of a helpful model-making correspondent I have added to my reference library various official manuals and other publications covering the pre-eminent Spitfire variants, including the Mk IX; and in early November I spent an informative half-day in the RAF Museum archive at Hendon familiarising myself with the several hundreds of Mk IX drawings kept there on microfilm. This is essential research, for however comprehensive is the detail included in Paul Monforton’s magnificent treatise on the Spitfire Mk IX, it is only when you get down to the actualities of the build do the inevitable gaps become apparent. To give an obvious example, Paul’s drafts cover all the main cockpit fittings and fixtures comprehensively, but not the details of the sundry plates and brackets onto which the gizmos fit… How could, he? He would have needed three hefty volumes rather than one!
So where does the project stand? I have a recognisable fuselage, nose and wing centre section and the cockpit shell is essentially complete internally, minus fittings, from the underbelly up to the datum longeron. Just before departing for Scotland I completed and dry-fitted the windshield de-icing fluid tank and part of its control mechanism. I also installed the first of numerous visible stainless steel control cables, but not without setback: most of the these cables run rearwards, and expedience dictates that I pass them through snug holes drilled at the appropriate spot in the foremost available plywood frame, securing them there under tension with liberal applications of encasing cyanoacrylate daubed on from the back. The rub is that I had completely forgotten this task when blocking out the fuselage with balsa. The oversight entailed considerable ‘mining’ into the emplaced wood in order to excavate a large enough cavity in which to work. So much for my meticulous planning!