Re: The Spitfire..................11 years is a long time on one project

Patrick Panzera

See this link for images:

On Mon, Jun 25, 2012 at 11:50 AM, Chris Rayner


Hi Q-builders, not "Q" stuff, but amazing anyway. At least you'll have the
pleasure of flying your masterpiece! And he's about to build another one -
but then again, he can't spend his time enjoying flying his creation.

Cheers all,

Chris Rayner (Q200; G-CUIK)

A Beautiful Masterpiece from a very talented man

Below are pictures of a scratch built 1/5th scale Supermarine Spitfire MK 1
by an English model builder. It's hard to imagine such infinite detail can
be accomplished even with super human devotion and dexterity. The pictures
and accompanying text are by the model maker, David Glen.


If anyone asked me why I set out to build a Spitfire in one-fifth scale,
detailed to the last rivet and fastener, I would probably be hard-pushed
a practical or even sensible answer. Perhaps the closest I can get is that
since a small child I have been awe inspired by R. J. Mitchell's elliptical
winged masterpiece, and that to build a small replica is the closest I will
ever aspire to possession.

The job took me well over eleven years, during which there were times I
nearly came to giving the project up for lost. The sheer amount of work
involved, countless hours, proved almost too much, were it not for a
serendipitous encounter at my flying club in Cambridge with Dr Michael
Director General of the Royal Air Force Museum in England.


Seeing the near complete fuselage, he urged me to go on and finish the
model, promising that he would put it on display. I was flabbergasted, for
when I started I had no inkling that my work would end up in a position of
honour in one of the world's premier aviation museums.

As I write, the case for the model is being prepared, having been specially
commissioned by the museum with a case-maker in Sweden. I have not yet seen
it, but from what I hear, it is enormous!

In one respect the story has gone full circle, since it was at Hendon where
I started my research in earnest, sourcing Microfilm copies of many
Supermarine drawings, without which such a detailed build would not have
been possible.

The model is skinned with litho plate over a balsa core and has been left
bare metal at the suggestion of Michael Fopp, so that the structure is seen
to best advantage. The rivets are real and many are pushed into drilled
holes in the skin and underlying balsa, but many more are actual mechanical
fixings. I have no accurate count, but I suspect that there are at least


All interior detail is built from a combination of Supermarine drawings and
workshop manuals, plus countless photographs of my own, many of them taken
opportunistically when I was a volunteer at the Duxford Aviation Society
based at Duxford Airfield, home of the incomparable Imperial War Museum
collection in Cambridgeshire, England. Spitfires, in various marks are,
I say, a common feature there!


The degree of detail is probably obsessive: The needles of the dials in the
cockpit actually stand proud of the instrument faces, but you have to look
hard to see it!
Why the flat canopy? Well, the early Mk.Is <> had them, and I
had no means to blow a bubble hood, so it was convenient. Similarly the
covers over the wheels were another early feature and they saved me a
challenging task of replicating the wheel castings.



The model has its mistakes, but I'll leave the experts to spot them, as
most certainly will, plus others I don't even know about. I don't pretend
the little Spitfire is perfect, but I do hope it has captured something of
the spirit and incomparable beauty of this magnificent fighter - perhaps
closest to a union that art and technology have ever come - a killing
machine with lines that are almost sublime.


So, with the model now in its magnificent new home, what comes next?

Well, I'm planning a book that will have a lot to say about its genesis and
perhaps just a little about me and those dear to me, including a long
suffering but understanding and supportive wife. And then there's the
Mustang. Yes, a 1/5th scale P-51D is already taking shape in my workshop.
How long will it take? I've no idea, but what I am sure of is that at my
(58) I can't expect to be building many of them!

David Glen
Whaddon, Cambridge

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Patrick Panzera

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