Prototype Build – Volume 1 Part 4: We have a fuselage!

It’s been a week of hard work but I am amazed at how well everything has come together. I set out to design something that could give the pleasure of building a life size model of the Spitfire Mk.IX, as one would a small scale model plane out of a kit. I am happy to say that that was exactly the experience!

A lot of the time spent was simply waiting for the epoxy glue to harden, which could take anywhere between 12 and 18 hours. If I had unlimited workspace I could have done a lot more things in parallel and things would have gone even faster still. However I want the prototype to be built in a home workshop in order to experience the same potential problems customers may have.

The parts fit together beautifully. It was a delight to be able to simply drop the screws in place for the instrument panel in order to set the distances correctly for the panel supports. The translation from the 3D Cad model to the cutting patterns has gone extremely well. I am preparing assembly drawings as I proceed, picking up on pertinent points to be noted in the Build Manual. So hopefully that will be nearly ready for publication when the prototype build has been completed.

We have captured the weeks build on a time lapse camera and has resulted 1,5 minutes of video 🙂 You can check it out here:

Week 1 of the build caught on camera

The intercostals remain to be placed which I will do over the weekend, except for Frame 9 which will only be placed once the rudder pedals are positioned. Other than the seat, the door frame and the canopy supports that just about concludes the wood part of the build. Now we will focus on getting the rest of the numbering and checking done (900 to go out of a total of 2000 odd components!).

And then we start preparing the platework cutting and bending patterns. In the meantime we can make aeroplane noises while sitting in the cockpit!

Prototype Build – Volume 1 Part 3: Start of Cradle Assembly

CNC Lab have done a stunning job of the routing and we were able to collect all of it yesterday.

Who thought you couldn’t fit a Spitfire Cockpit in a Landrover?!!

Fortunately all fitted very well into the Landy. The routing was all done with a 3mm bit, even the 21mm plywood. This has resulted in an excellent finish and very accurate drill hole sizes. It is wonderful what CNC Routing, laserjet cutting and 3D printing have done for the engineering industry and hobbyists particularly. It allows absolute accuracy of your bespoke components at reasonable cost. All it requires is accurate 3D modeling. And that is hopefully where we at Heritage Flight Simulation earn our keep!

Beautifully made main and flying instrument panel backings (will have an aluminium cover)

The parts are so accurate it is a doddle to do a quick dry fit of our first task, the cradle. Here my able assistant Caroline can be seen holding up Frame 11 (which originates from a previous test of waterjet cutting plywood) on the dry fit cradle bits.

The CNC routing is so accurate I cannot but be amazed at how beautifully everything lines up.

Anyway, that was yesterdays fun 🙂 Today we set up a time lapse video camera which hopefully will capture the build from start to finish at 5 minutes per frame. That should have us complete the build in about 10 minutes. Of video…heheh!

We have also started gluing up the box sides and wing spars of the cradle.