Our unique, handbuilt Supermarine Spitfire MK805
The builders story
The Spitfire MK.IX - MK805 has taken me over 25 years to complete and has been built using copies of the original Spitfire drawings. The only way of obtaining these in the 1980's was from microfilm held in the archives at the RAF Museum in Hendon. This was a laborious task which took me over eight years to complete.
Having spent thousands of hours studying the drawings and creating full size templates, work began on the construction of the fuselage in 1990.
Starboard wing, final skinning Top skins, Starboard wing Finished wing 2010
Three months were spent cutting out the fuselage frames from the firewall frame 5 through to frame 19, these were then positioned into a jig and all intercostals brackets and stiffeners were fitted into position.
Many cockpit and fuselage items now had to be fitted as access to these areas would not be possible at a later stage. The cockpit contains all genuine Spitfire parts including all the instruments. The fuselage was then skinned using thousands of rivets.
The next stage was to build three more jigs, one for each wing and one for the tail unit.
The wings were started in 1994 by constructing two main wing spars and two rear spars, each spar being double skinned for added strength.
I then constructed 42 wing ribs, 21 for each wing, plus auxilliary spars, brackets and stiffeners. All these parts were treated with primer and painted to give a long lasting protection.
Original Aileron ribs New ribs being made Aileron under construction
Cleaned original skins fitted Original Aileron brackets Wing flaps near completion
A further 18 months were spent attaching the skins to the wings; half of this time was on the leading edge skins.
The tail unit was also being developed during this time, again a very complex section, which also incorporated the port and starboard tail planes.
This unit was joined to the fuselage in 2001.
Leading edge skins being fitted Work on port wing Top port skins fitted
Next was the task of making the cowling structure. As I had all original parts from different Spitfires it was difficult to match these together but was achieved after 18 months of work. The undercarriage system which includes the legs, pintles, u/c jacks, wheels and tyres are all original and these were fitted next. Between 2000 and 2009 the elevators, rudder, flaps and ailerons were constructed, aligned and attached.
Rudder lamp fitting Elevators coverd with Irish lining Dope being applied
Priming and painting the Spitfire was carried out between 2008 and 2010 in the markings of 64 fighter squadron by my son, Stephen Arlow. The final assembly of the Spitfire, which included the fitting of the wings to the fuselage, took place in May 2010.
Wings primed Ready for stencilling Final camouflage finish
Final finish to the fuselage took place in 2010
Spraying Spitfire MK805.
Preparing MK805 for priming
Second coat of primer on chin cowling & spinner
Green & Grey finish ready for roundels
Aftertwo days of painting
Stephen Arlow - Sprayer of Spitfire MK805 & James Bowman - Who helped with the build of Spitfire MK805