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1/18 Spitfire Mk. XIVe - Race #80

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So, this is the picture that changed everything…




This is a Spitfire Mk. XiVe (ex TZ138) being raced in Tinnerman Air Races at Cleveland, Ohio piloted by James McArthur placing 3rd on September 4th 1949. The next day McArthur left the airfield at 6:00 am with the winnings and the aircraft leaving no trace of his destination.


As soon as I saw it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it – bare metal, civilian not military, beautiful lines and right up my street. I had been struggling with fatigue on my F7F and after a bit of soul searching decided why not do both?


I found a few more pics, and in fact she is still flying as C-GSPT in Canada..




I looked at the Airfix 1/24 Spitfire Mk. 1a kit and what might be involved in converting it to a Griffon, low back Mk. XiVe, certainly a possibility, but through a culmination of events I went for this…




..it’s a 1/18 Seafire FR47 available by order from HpH at 450 Euros without shipping and is being sent on Monday J. I went for it as it’s bigger and needs less outline work to correct this to a Mk. XIV than taking a Mk. 1 all way up to the later marks..


I have the Monforton book which while it doesn’t cover the Griffon versions it has remarkable detail & drawings on everything Spitfire, so I am already part way through drawing up some bespoke PE for it which is scaled up from what I have pending for the 1/24 kit..


..I also couldn’t wait while it was being prepared so thought I would get started on something, and thanks to Tony Taylor’s exceptional pics of the seat (I found them on a forum so I do hope he doesn’t mind me re-posting..) I decided to start here..




..so first up I prepared the rear braces by scaling the drawings and using them as templates to form & bend up the parts..




..made up a kit of parts either turning on a dremel, forming from litho or using RB Motion car parts..




..assembled the parts and made up pistons etc from tube & rod..




..added the start of the seat mounting & adjustment frame – working from such accurate scaled drawings is an amazing bonus as it fits like watch parts and lines up properly provided care is taken..






..onto the seat itself – I decided to make this from litho even though it is a resin/paper moulding, just because I like to work with it..


..I annealed a part of it so I could shape the sort of ‘pocket’ thing on the side – as I was working I also referred to David Glens book on his incredible 1/5 scale version…




..there is a uniquely shaped depression in the seat bottom for the parachute pack, so I made a plastic card ‘plug’, fixed it to a thick base and worked annealed litho around it with a coffee stirrer stick..




..again, making up a kit of parts, including folding a lip at the back of the seat so it will meet and support the seat back..




..a dry fit of the parts so far..







..making the seat back – I drilled it so I could use micro rivets to fix it together..




..used the Monforton drawings to scale templates for all the parts, here I am starting on the fittings related to the seat height adjustment lever..




..and the finished adjustment lever bits & bobs..




.. I was quite impressed to find with careful assembly it actually works!


..lowest position..




..highest position..






After a week, that bit is finished and I like how it has turned out..










 - this is assembly number one of what will be a long term project.. I hope you will join me on the journey..


 ..also, as it’s a Spitfire I am looking forward to getting a lot of advice as I go, as I learn about the airframe and the long list of subtle differences between Marks, versions and variants – I only wish Edgar Brooks was around to keep me straight – in a way I hope this becomes my tribute to him


See you soon folks..



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evening folks :)


kit has not arrived yet so I have had to busy myself with some other parts..


..today is about learning and experimenting and that the first solution is not always the best option.. it also seems some crap has got into my camera so sorry about the black smudges here & there..


..I started with the control column - I scaled a drawing and found an appropriate diameter rod to start trying to form the very distinctive loop shape..




..it was actually a really hard shape to make - I also turned a brass spigot on my dremel (must get a lathe..) to mount it into..




..the real one has two rings on either side to give better grip I guess, so I made these too..




..I tried getting the rubber effect by using heat shrink tubing - it took ages to slide the tubing over the rings and around the circumference - the first one is on the right below - I wasn't happy as it looked too clunky and not textured. This gave me the idea to use guitar string so I made one from that... with this one I just could NOT get the tubing around it and over the rings so I tried others where I put the tubing on first and bent the shape...


..many attempts later..




..I also tried to make the part the grip actually sits on - I made a paper template and then folded it up from brass sheet - on the left the first attempt - totally fried by my mini blowtorch - I am still a serious learner when it comes to soldering.... on the right take two when I used a soldering iron :)




..another in the long line of trial and error was the gun button - I figured an air racer wouldn't have one, but actually the mounting is part of the casting of the grip so I thought I would leave it on ..


again, at the top the first attempt was to scribe lines into soft ali pipe which I thought I would section and bend around to give the grooved button... fail... at the bottom a section of X-acto handle I worked up which worked out much better..




..the finished front of the button and it's housing..




..and all the parts combined,,,






..it's a really iconic part so I hope I captured it..



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morning all :)


... hot tip time...


yesterday I told the family it was International Mens Day - that got me a good solid day at the bench without chores or disturbance coolio.gif so I got the control column nearly finished...


surprised they didn't google it, but hey...


..I started with making the pressing that shrouds the control chains that go from the grip to the base of the stick and all the control wires - it's a complicated shape and I pondered how to do it - I tried grinding from solid stock but that failed - in the end I tried emulating the original as a sheet pressing...


again, a paper template to get the original, I added the two sides I would fold up, and here I am trying to cut out the centre for where the column itself will go..




..this part has about 2 hours in it - all the time I was terrified I would slip and bend it as it is quite fragile - once you do that it's terminal...




..the final part with the column itself - I used reference pics to make exactly what I see...




..and the sub-assemblies ready to come together - one fake mini-bolt holds it all together...




..it was fiddly, but once together, I just put a drop of CA on the retaining nut and it was done..






..as a bolt was used it moves freely, here we are rolling to the right piliot.gif




..I still need to add the back plate and some gubbins at the rear of the grip mounting and then top it off with a curved pressing that rounds off the big lower plate and then it really will be finished..





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evening folks :)


umm - there is a big hole in my aeroplane...




..I cut the cockpit away with a slitting tool in a dremel for a nice clean cut - the fuselage & wings are still very rigid so no worries about compromising strength..


the first thing I wanted to do was check the PE against the inner dimensions - in places the walls of this 'kit' are pretty thick fiberglass, plusI designed the PE from the Monforton book so thought they may not match...


started with the seat bulkhead (Frame 11) and the Instrument panel..




..thankfully both fitted really well - I thinned the walls of the 'pod' but was pretty careful as the glass mat gives the shape strength and I worried if I went too hard it would just crumble in my hands..


no issues though and it turned out ok.. certainly good enough for government work...






..with frame 11 off the fret I started to fiddle about with some assembly to make a change from the hackathon I have been on... the frame starts with a main part and a rivet outline...




..with a strip of card added around the inner circumference to give depth and some brackets or fishplates found on the real thing..




made up the seat mountings from brass stock and more PE parts - there are a couple of seat quick release latches that figure on the horizontal cross brace so included them.. now I have figured out my dremel workstation I also drilled all the parts to bolt together...




..and the two main sub-assemblies start to come together..




..and dry fitted,,




..couldn't resist trying it with the seat..




..much more to do, but this is turning out to be a very rewarding build - just hope it stays that way..



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Modelling engineering at it's best.

How do you glue such fine details without any smearing?




Hi Cees - I just use thin CA and a pin to apply it - a bit of careful handling and mostly it ends up without disasters :)

little more done - the cockpit needs bulkheads so I started with frame 10 which is one I had the lining etched as part of the set as it has a load of equally spaced holes.. I cut out some sides from litho and put a bit of plastic between them to space them.. This set the scene for a lot of repetative bending, folding, cutting and filing to make many of these kinds of structures..


..in this case I folded the sides of the etched part and then annealed it to try and shape it around an aerosol can as it is curved in cross section..




..then went on to add other bulkhead parts and lateral stiffeners - the ones with small fasteners were little sods and I almost wished I didn't try and make them like that as they took ages to get the fasteners made and fixed..






..same sort of activity to get the parts done on the top half, except here for a bit of variety I could at least start to make the box section where the canopy winding handle and chain guard will go...






..the key here is get the groundwork done on which to build all the interesting details...


..lastly, I want to try and match the sidewall I am making to the bulkhead and then adapt the cockpit 'pod' I cut away from the fuselage to fit, To do this, I have made the jig to hold the sidewall match the shape of frame 11 - sort of like this...




..the problem I haven't solved yet is matching the walls to the floor as the cockpit is quite open and all those half bulkheads on the sidewall need to somehow be continuous across the floor later..


one for a bit of headscratching...




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Amazing work as always Peter.

Would it be an idea to make the lower sections of the floorframes a bit longer and slighty less in width so

you can slide the top part of the frame over them? Any discrepancy would be difficult to spot in the dark.

Fantastic and a real joy to watch your progress.


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