SPITFIRE IN MY WORKSHOP
Although many have likely seen the amazing work
of David Glen and his 11-year journey of constructing his
80-inch wingspan Spitfire masterpiece, which resides in the
Royal Air Force Museum in Great Britian, his inspiration to
take on this project comes directly from RC aircraft modeling.
It was an RC model designed and built by Rob Millinship
that provided the spark that led David to take on the project.
Rob’s design was like many RC model aircraft, in that he
aspired to design and construct a good-flying model and
deviated slightly “in the interests of making a practical-to-build
Rob’s design, available as a kit from D.B. Sport & Scale
Limited, would also become the basis on which to create
David’s model. The difference was that David’s model would
not take flight, so accuracy was the primary goal. The model
could be constructed without concern regarding its weight.
Another interesting thing about David’s aircraft is the fact
that at the request of then-Director General of the Royal
Air Force Museum, Dr. Michael Fopp, the model was to be
anonymous and represent the aircraft itself, rather than a
specific unit or squadron. In doing so, it allowed a greater
opportunity to appreciate the craftsmanship that went into
constructing the Spitfire that would have been partially
obscured by paint.
David’s writing is entertaining and enlightening about the
requirements of a project such as this. He includes a bit of
history and humor as he takes us through his journey of this
ambitious project and its challenges, and clearly hopes to
inspire other builders along the way.
Two topics covered in the book that will be of interest to
scale modelers are the details about constructing the cockpit
with its high level of detail, and the information about fabric-covering and rib-stringing techniques used for the rudder
The construction of the cockpit is described in the book as
first completing the interior, and then building the rest of the
model around it. Many details about fabricating the instrument
panel are provided in the book.
Regarding the covering, the author used Solartex for the
rudder and elevator, and although it is only mentioned on two
pages, the six included photos provide a brief overview of the
process he used.
Each of the nine chapters
in the book provides an
overview of topics covered,
allowing one to easily
reference a certain topic.
Chapter 1, for example,
covers a “flatpack” fuselage,
the fuselage frames,
sidewalls, longerons and
intercostals; the instrument
panel; detailed fitting out;
control column assembly; stencils and placards;
and the pilot’s seat.
The book includes many quotes including this one that
provides a glimpse into how involved the construction
process was: “Out of the tens of thousands of individual items
and components that make up the model, there is only one
concession to commercial procurement: so close in shape
and dimension were the rubber balloon tyres discovered
in a hobby shop that it would have made little sense not to
David also provided this advice when looking back on the
project: “If you covet your time or like taking shortcuts, stick to
building kits. Model making can be nothing if not obsessive.”
The author’s other advice also seemed relevant: “I necessarily
put the ultimate goal to the back of my mind. So when I am
working in the cockpit for example, I focus on making a model
of the control column, or instrument panel, or pilot’s seat, and
so on. That way I mentally break down the challenge into bite-size chunks where there is a beginning and an end measured in
weeks or months rather than years.”
At the end of the book, the author also provides some
photos and details about his life outside of the Spitfire
project, including being a volunteer restorer of veteran
warbirds, a private pilot, and, obviously, a model maker.
We also get a glimpse of other modeling projects that he
The hardback book with dust jacket spans 192 large-format pages, and has 240-plus captioned color images and
20 mono images/diagrams. David’s writing and the excellent
photography of Roger Hancock make the book enjoyable to
read as well as visually appealing. Anyone who appreciates
building from scratch, or specifically has interest in the Spitfire,
should consider adding this book to his or her library.
22 Model Aviation SEP TEMBER 2016