SUPERMARINE SPITFIRE MK-IX PROJECT
By Rob Tribelhorn – Project Leader
A full size scale model of the WW2 Supermarine Spitfire MK-IV fighter is being constructed in the Bellman Hangar.
Port Elizabeth’s Spitfire Project
In about March 2010 the former curator of the Museum, Lt. Col. Tinus Janse van Rensburg initiated building a full size Supermarine Spitfire and asked me if I thought it was feasible to construct it out of wood.
We had a set of 1/9 scale plans so he arranged with the Nelson Mandela Municipal University to enlarge the fuselage formers to full size. These were printed on paper and laid out on sheets of five ply plywood.
I then cut these out with a jig saw and mounted them on a plastic pole at the correct spacing.
I proceeded from there to follow the 1/9 plans, making the necessary changes required to fit a person seated in the cockpit.
In 2011 Fred Muller joined me and we proceeded to construct the fuselage with whatever timber materials we lay our hands on. This consisted of shutter board, 3 ply plywood and pine planking sawn to the correct widths for the ribs and main spars.
The cockpit was constructed as realistic as possible using spare gauges and made-up parts from the WW2. I had to rebuild some of the gauges and make up others match and position all the gauges as close as possible to the real aircraft.
The fuselage took shape and we progressed to the wing section. This element was problematic as I had to design and manufacture the undercarriage frame with steel tubing obtained from Peter Boshoff the AMO.
Together with Col. John van Rooyen’s assistance, we welded up a frame and fitted undercarriage legs and installed these into the timber wing section. Peter Boshoff then donated two Yak Oleo legs which, with some lathe work were fitted.
Finally, we obtained two Vampire wheels and tyres from Pretoria but these were without tubes. I then purchased two passenger car tubes and made up two valves to fit.
The undercarriage was finally fitted to the wing section and ready to be attached to the fuselage which was being completed in between this work.
50L of Polyurethane liquid for foam was kindly donated by the Chemical Company BASF, enabling us to cast parts to then carve and shape out Spitfire air scoops.
The exhaust outlet stubs donated by E.P. Mufflers, a local exhaust manufacturing company.
The cockpit received its undercarriage control, throttle and pitch control constructed to match the Spitfire as closely as possible. The tail wheel assembly was remodeled as the weight of the aircraft was too great for the initial parts constructed.
The wing ribs have been cut and assembled by Wally Viljoen who recently joined the team with timber donated by Pennypinchers.
Work in progress consists of planning the spars and commencing with construction of the two wing sections.
11 July 2014 Update:
A representative of the RAF Officers Club in Johannesburg paid a visit to the Museum and that organisation made a donation towards the manufacture of the aluminium structure for the main wings.
The four Blade propeller with a diameter of 3,2 m (10′ 9″) was manufactured thanks to kind assistance by Plastics By Graymaur which filled up much needed technical gap for the propellers moulding.
Wayne Williams of Graymaur visited the Museum during a family member birthday party and was so impressed with the project that he offered to make a mould of the propellers using their hi-tech 3D computer CNC Router machine.
Aircraft will be painted in the standard camouflage of Ocean grey/green with a light sea grey underside and have Sailor Malan’s markings when he was a Group Captain. The markings are being researched right now to ensure correctness. Jon Adams is doing some research for me as well as he knows Sailor’s son whom he will bring down with the rollout.