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Supermarine Spitfire by Tim Moore - FINISHED - Guillow’s 403 - 1/16 kit, built as display model


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Posted (edited)

My son gave me this throwback kit for my birthday, one I had built and flown many, many years ago. So before I get cracking on finishing the last bits of rigging on HMS Bounty I thought I’d do this as a holiday project. Decided to employ my wooden ship skills such as they are by modifying the kit so it will make a reasonable display model to hang in the new workshop. 
Its a simple kit so I’ll just summarize the process so far. The laser cutting is exceptional and putting together the basic frames is straightforward. You’d normally now just cover this with tissue. Instead I inserted 150 pieces of balsa into the framework and then applied a thin watered down layer of latex wood filler and lightly sanded to give a final form, sort of like a clay model. For the wing, I covered the frame with 1/16 balsa underneath and 1/32 basswood topsides. I’ve nested wheel assemblies into the wing so it will look right flying off the ceiling. I ditched the tail assemblies in the kit and formed a more functional rudder and stabilizer from 1/4” balsa. So now I have the basic form of the Spit, and will work on incorporating more detail before painting. 

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Edited by Tim Moore
Finished!
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Thanks guys for all the great comments and likes. Finished all the wing underside details. Fashioned some wing fairings from thin balsa and will eventually perfect it with a little sanding and touch of filler. The engine exhaust is a combination of plastic from kit and some aluminium tubing. Was hoping to find a nice aftermarket prop to put on it but with everything locked down here that doesn’t seem possible so I laminated a few pieces of wood and just did a hand carved job instead. This is quite a fun build and it’s a decent sized bird.

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Ahhhhhhh....I remember my old Comet days.....fun times ;)   that's a series 400 kit........did you decide to wood laminate it,  or does the kit have the tissue?

   I built the series 500 kit of the MK 1......I haven't flown it as of yet.  my best flyer was a Fokker D VIII :)   I'm currently building  Fokker Dr 1....still in the closet........I really need to get back to it.

 

superb job with what you've done so far........even with what you've done,  I'd be willing to bet that its still light weight enough to fly.  nice job on the prop too!

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I grew up building balsa tissue model airplanes.  10 years before I was born my father and mother started the “Viking Aircraft Company” to produce and sell model aircraft kits to supplement my father’s income during the depression.  This short lived Company was closed down by their landlord who objected to balsa dust and acetone fumes.  My mother saved advertising and price lists but unfortunately no kits.

 

Building these stick and tissue models many years later my father taught me to first fly them as a glider to get them balanced correctly; they were always tail heavy.  If they would glide, the rubber band power would be sufficient for them to fly.  If the model was to fly, we often used clear dope to finish it as it was lighter in weight than pigmented colors.

 

Roger

 

 

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On 1/7/2021 at 11:46 AM, popeye the sailor said:

Ahhhhhhh....I remember my old Comet days.....fun times ;)   that's a series 400 kit........did you decide to wood laminate it,  or does the kit have the tissue?

   I built the series 500 kit of the MK 1......I haven't flown it as of yet.  my best flyer was a Fokker D VIII :)   I'm currently building  Fokker Dr 1....still in the closet........I really need to get back to it.

 

superb job with what you've done so far........even with what you've done,  I'd be willing to bet that its still light weight enough to fly.  nice job on the prop too!

The kit has tissue for covering the frames, which you would then cover with dope. I decided to try covering with a wood skin instead, to make a better display model. I flew the one I made according to kit directions many years ago with the rubber apparatus. This one will just be for display but it is still very light - the plywood skin on the wings is only 1/32” basswood. You’d need an engine to get it up I imagine. 

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On 1/7/2021 at 12:36 PM, Roger Pellett said:

I grew up building balsa tissue model airplanes.  10 years before I was born my father and mother started the “Viking Aircraft Company” to produce and sell model aircraft kits to supplement my father’s income during the depression.  This short lived Company was closed down by their landlord who objected to balsa dust and acetone fumes.  My mother saved advertising and price lists but unfortunately no kits.

 

Building these stick and tissue models many years later my father taught me to first fly them as a glider to get them balanced correctly; they were always tail heavy.  If they would glide, the rubber band power would be sufficient for them to fly.  If the model was to fly, we often used clear dope to finish it as it was lighter in weight than pigmented colors.

 

Roger

 

 

Interesting! So this model building is definitely in your blood. Before ships I started out with all sorts of planes as well. Did one or two of the rubber powered  Guillows, and then a massive u control flying wing with a 0.35 gas engine which I struggled to get off the ground. Then I got cocky and scratch built a smaller plane of my own design, which strangely flew better than any of the kits. After that I decided to quit while I was ahead, called it a day on planes and started shipbuilding.

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All primed, sanded smooth and ready for painting and final detailing - waiting on a paint and airbrush delivery which may take a bit of time since the brush is on backorder until February. Going back to the shipyard in the meantime to finish off rigging the last yards on the Bounty. 

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Thanks guys! Yes I’m pretty pleased how it turned out given it’s a bit of a dodgy balsa frame under there. The technique of painting on a slightly thin paste of plastic wood on top of thin balsa or plywood really works. I used a white primer to show up any defects but it’s pretty clean overall. I’d like to figure out a way to define panel lines on the fuselage - not sure yet what would be the best approach on wood. If anyone has ideas let me know. I have some 2” metal tape I thought about using to create panel effect but may be tricky to lay flat on such a rounded body.

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14 hours ago, Tim Moore said:

If anyone has ideas let me know.

You may have to just use a flexible ruler and a light stroke with a knife tip. Not an easy proposition in balsa. Nice thing is that you can fill any mistakes back in with Plastic Wood and try again if needed.

Edited by lmagna
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4 hours ago, lmagna said:

You may have to just use a flexible ruler and a light stroke with a knife tip. Not an easy proposition in balsa. Nice thing is that you can fill any mistakes back in with Plastic Wood and try again if needed.

I would suggest an old #2 Exacto blade with the tip broke off, use the back side of the blade like a scraper......

 

It's stiffer that way and doesn't cut, just scores a line.... light pressure which you adjust to the grade of Balsa.... And as lou says, mistakes are easily fixed....

 

Another suggestion is put a light coat of poly over the wood, makes the surface a bit stronger.....

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I would have suggested an awl, scribe or the back edge of an Exacto blade, but I was thinking that the balsa is a soft and fibrous wood and when scribing across the grain would tend to pull the fiber up and leave fuzzy edges along the scribe. If your thick primer prevents this then so much the better. Looking forward to the results on your test piece.

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  • 2 weeks later...

What a fantastic build, always thought the silverskin and dope covering of Guillows suited the WWI planes best as well that’s closer to the originals. Your idea of in filling with balsa and using wood sheets works perfectly for WWII planes. I think you’ll start a trend. 

Edited by Slowhand
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1 hour ago, Slowhand said:

What a fantastic build, always thought the silverskin and dope covering of Guillows suited the WWI planes best as well that’s closer to the originals. Your idea of in filling with balsa and using wood sheets works perfectly for WWII planes. I think you’ll start a trend. 

Thanks Slowhand! I’m just waiting on delivery of an airbrush so I can press on with finishing. And thanks everyone for suggestions re panel marking. I tried everything suggested and so far a fine ss awl I have seems to work best. 

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