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Build and Fly This High-Performance Exact Scale Model of One of Britain's Most Deadly Fighters
By EARL STAHL
Realistic in appearance and powerful in flight
A fine stable flier
Careful decoration improves appearance
The large propeller gives long flights
This close‑up shows refinement of detail
It is carefully designed and strong
THE geographic location of England makes it most vulnerable to attacks from the air, and as a means of defense the interceptor ‑ fighter planes have been developed. These venomous single - seaters operate at close range and it is their military duty to sweep raiding aircraft from the sky. Such planes as the famous Hawker "Hurricane" and the "Spitfire" are designed to rocket skyward at an astonishing rate, be fleet enough to overtake the swiftest invader, possess a great degree of maneuverability and finally be deadly enough to promptly dispose of the luckless victim.
The Vickers Supermarine "Spitfire" is not a new design; the first of this type being tested in 1936. Production difficulties plagued volume construction, however, and it was only recently that complete squadrons of "Spitfires" were in service. Of all - metal construction, this aerial terror is not only one of the world's best performers but it is also one of the most attractive. A liquid cooled Rolls Royce engine of 1030 horsepower pulls it along at a maximum speed of 367 miles per hour - its diving velocity exceeds even that of the famous Curtiss 75‑A for it is said that a "Spitfire" attained a speed of nearly 700 miles per hour in a similar plunge. Eight Browning machine guns jut from the wing's leading edge making it one of the heaviest armed single - seaters. Squadrons of these fiery fighters are constantly in readiness to intercept Nazi trespassers.
The model retains the attractive appearance and streamlines of the original and an effort has been made to simplify the manner of construction as much as possible while still retaining the desired features.
The satisfaction it is sure to afford, whether on display or in flight, will more than compensate for the time and effort expended on its construction. After becoming familiar with the plans and the procedure of construction, you may start to build the
The fuselage is constructed about a top and bottom keel. To obtain the shape of the keel pieces it will be necessary to trace the top and bottom outlines of the side view. A depth of 3/16" will be about right and the keels should be cut from 1/16" sheet balsa. The bulkheads are cut from 1/16" sheet also; two of each type are needed. Cut only the notches shown; the purpose of this is to aid in properly aligning the stringers. Enough of the bulkheads have notches cut in them to insure proper spacing of the stringers and it will be a simple matter to cut the remaining ones as needed. Pin the keel pieces into position over the side view and cement half of the bulkheads to place. Remove from the plan and add the remaining formers. Next the 1/16" square middle stringers are added to each side. Exercise caution to avoid pulling the fuselage out of line. Once a stringer is secured to one side of the structure always attach one to the corresponding position of the other side. Check continually to assure a properly aligned structure.
The nose of the original model was "filled-in" with 1/16" soft sheet balsa. This is not a difficult job but it does require time and patience. Cut individual pieces of balsa so they will fit snugly into each open space between the stringers and bulkheads. When dry the whole nose is thoroughly sandpapered to a smooth, pleasing shape. Cut the nose block from a 1/2" thick block and cement it to place. It is advisable to lightly cement the 1/8" nose plug fast, too, so the entire nose can be shaped attractively.
Cement a "w-I" rib to each side of the wing root, being careful to make the angle of incidence identical to that of the plans. The trailing edge of the wing root, cut from 1/16 sheet, is trimmed to the correct size and glued to place. Brace the root bulkheads with pieces of 1/16" x 1/8" hard balsa as indicated by the dotted lines on the bulkhead patterns. 3/32" square pieces are fitted between the root rib and the fuselage to form the leading edge. A 1/8" thick false rib is fitted against the fuselage by the "cut and try" method - it extends from the leading edge to bulkhead number b-3. Several lengths of thin bamboo may be attached to the bulkheads to help round out the wing root.
Prepare the fuselage for covering by thoroughly sanding the whole structure. For the best covering job only those members of the fuselage which run from nose to tail should touch the paper, so use a piece of sandpaper wrapped about a pencil or similar round object to scallop the bulkheads.
Since the wing is elliptical in plan form, all of the ribs in each half are different. Select a sheet of soft grade balsa for all of the ribs except "w-l" and "w-2" which require a stronger variety. Cut the required number of ribs and sandpaper them smooth. Notches must be cut with accuracy to insure a neat job when completed. The wing's trailing edge is cut from 3/32" sheet; the tips likewise. Select hard 3/32" square spars since they must resist the shock of landings. Assemble the parts directly over the plans and cement the joints firmly. When dry, the halves are removed from their jigs, trimmed and sandpapered to their final shape.
The Spitfire's tail surfaces haven't sufficient area to insure stable model flights so we have enlarged them to more suitable proportions. Build the stabilizer in one piece for greater strength. Outlines of the stabilizer and rudder are cut from 1/16" sheet; ribs are 1/16" square. Additional strips are cemented to both sides of the ribs and when dry they are cut to a streamline shape.
In all probability your Spitfire will need some extra weight in the nose to help balance the long tail moment arm, so we advise the use of a white pine propeller. A hardwood prop, while a bit more difficult to carve, will take more abuse. Lay out the blank, as indicated, on a block 9" x 1 1/2' x 1". Cut the blank to shape with a jig saw, etc. and then carve a right hand propeller. Finish the back face of the blades first and then reduce the front face to the proper thickness. Shape the blades so they resemble the wood props used on early Spitfires. (Latest models of this fighter are equipped with three blade constant speed metal propellers.) The huge spinner will easily hide a freewheel device which should be used to improve the model's glide. Make the spinner from hard balsa and fit it neatly to the prop hub. The application of several coats of clear dope with light sanding between each will prepare the prop for a smooth finish.
Remove the nose plug and cement a block 1/4" x 5/8" x 5/8" to the back so it will fit neatly into the hole in the nose. Drill a hole through the plug and cement washers to both sides so the prop shaft will revolve smoothly. Bend the propeller shaft from .040 wire; several washers will be needed between the prop and nose plug.
Cover the whole model with colored tissue to help keep the weight at a minimum. The model pictured is all red but the planes at war are camouflaged with dull green and brown paint. Cover the fuselage first, using banana oil to fasten the tissue. Numerous small pieces must be used to prevent wrinkles. Trim the surplus paper with a sharp razor blade and then carefully overlap the next piece. It is not necessary to attach the paper to all of frame just apply adhesive to the outsides of the area being covered. Cover the top of the wing with several pieces, if necessary, to avoid wrinkles. The undersurface of the wing is covered from the third rib to the tip, only, since the landing gear must be attached to the spars once the model is assembled. Spray a fine mist of water on the covered parts to tighten the tissue; pin the wings and tail surfaces to a flat surface to keep them from warping. Do not dope the covering until the parts are assembled.
Block the fuselage into a level position so the model can be assembled accurately. Attach the wings first; do not spare the cement for the wings are subject to the force of landings. Check to ascertain that the incidence of each wing panel is the same. The tips should be raised 2-1/8" for the correct dihedral. To attach the stabilizer it will be necessary to cut the tailpost and bulkhead number 10 in order that they can be sprung apart far enough to admit the stab. Cement the rudder on and check for correct alignment. The landing gear struts should be bent to shape and attached; the plan shows how the .040 music wire is formed so as to join the spars and second rib of each wing. Draw a front and side layout to aid in bending the wire accurately and be sure to make a right and left strut. Use strong silk thread and neatly bind the struts to the spars. Once the alignment is satisfactory, apply several coats of cement over all the buildings as well as the adjacent spars and ribs. The remaining uncovered parts should now be covered.
Complete the construction by adding the various details. The cockpit enclosure is thin celluloid; paper patterns should be shaped correctly before the celluloid pieces are cut. Rubber tubing of the correct size makes excellent covers for the landing struts, but if it is not available, bond paper should be wrapped into tubes of the correct size. One or two coats of clear dope are brushed on the covering; do this in a dry room to avoid "blushing." Check continually to prevent warping of the flying surfaces. Thin strips of black tissue should be doped to the covering to represent the control surfaces. The insignia used on the original model was made from colored tissue, too. Exhausts, tail wheel, wheel well covers, a radio antenna and numerous other details should be added to enhance the appearance of your miniature.
Ten or twelve strands of 1/8" brown rubber should be used to power this model. To many this amount of power may seem excessive, but the resulting zip and climb makes the model just that much more realistic. Lubricate the rubber and then remove the excess so the sides of the body will not be splashed. Attach one end of the motor to the prop shaft and with the aid of a weighted string drop the other end through the fuselage. A 1/16" round bamboo pin holds the motor in the rear. Your replica of this famous fighter is now ready for its test hop.
Select a grass - covered field and a calm day for the test flights. Balance the model by the wing tips it should rest with the nose pointing down at a shallow angle. If any weight must be added, it will probably be needed in the nose. Try a few shoulder height glides; it may be necessary to shift the center of gravity a bit to obtain the desired results. Wind the rubber motor about 50 turns and launch. It should climb a few feet and then glide smoothly to earth. Warp the stabilizer, if necessary, to correct any undesirable attitudes. Should the model bank excessively, "wash-in” the wing tip which is on the inside of the turn. Gradually increase the number of turns once the adjustments seem satisfactory. Stretch the rubber and use a mechanical winder for best flights. Exercise your best judgment in the construction and flying of your Spitfire and you will be rewarded with an attractive, fine performing model.
Scanned from August, 1940
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