Builder #5: Frank Deeth - email for more information
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Start date: Officially April 2007 but unofficially about 1995.
First flight goal date: Too far away to contemplate at this stage.
I have wanted my own Spitfire ever since the first time I saw the movie,
"The Battle of Britain" when I was about 12 years old on a Sunday TV
Matinee. A few years later on a visit to Australia's War Memorial in
Canberra (our capital) for a high school ski trip I found a book by Jeremy
Flack called "Spitfire - A living legend". On the second last page was a
very tantalizing double page picture of the Clive du Cros wooden replica
of the Spitfire prototype K5054. At the time I had just discovered the
possibility of building one's own aircraft so coupled with that knowledge
and the view of what might be possible my over active imagination went
into over drive. That was about 22 years ago and I had many other things I
needed to accomplish before I might be in a position to dare to attempt
the dream of building my own Spitfire. I always wanted to build a Corby
Starlet when I was young so I started that as soon as my life allowed in
In the mid 1990's I obtained a copy of the Clive du Cros book about the
construction of his Spitfire prototype replica. This served very well to
fuel the fire and keep the dream alive. I would say this is where I
unofficially started on the project without really knowing it. Since
reading Clive's book there has been an enormous amount of time gone into
researching books, original and then replica plans and sourcing original
instruments, original spec parts and timber for the project as well as my
own Allison engine.
Not long after commencing work on the Starlet I went looking for the
Spitfire I knew existed out there. Eventually I found Russ's plans through
an obscure link from some original Spitfire plans suppliers. With the
building of my other aircraft I felt it would give me some great wooden
aircraft building experience and also a fun and inexpensive tailwheel semi
aerobatic aircraft I could fly whilst building the Spitfire. When it was
too hot or too cold to work in the shed on the Corby Starlet I would
search for and purchase all kinds of parts and materials I would need for
the Spitfire project. This includes, Allison engine, original spec
canopies and windscreen, cockpit doors, radio hatch, original spec new
manufacture wing root fillets, instruments, instrument panels, panel shock
mounts, spade grips, rudder pedals, wheels, tires, tubes, brakes, seats
(single seat Vampire), tail wheel etc, etc. This has been a huge job in
it's self and has certainly kept me busy in my spare time. There is still
an enormous amount to collect of course and one thing I learnt from the
first project is to try and get as much of the hardware organized as early
in the project as possible. The next challenge will be organising all of
the metal fittings such as hinges, trim actuators, and the rest of the
original spec cockpit parts I am sourcing.
I finished my Starlet in March '07 and have been enjoying flying it whilst
trying to get set up for and start construction of the jigs required for
all of the tailplane ribs. My aircraft will be as close to spec as the
Spitfire Tr.9 models as possible but with the more 'modern' looking bubble
slider canopy for the rear cockpit. See Russ's link to the development of
a two seater on the Home page of this site. The Tr.9 aircraft has the
taller pointed rudder which I have incorporated into my aircraft and the
jigs. I will also be changing the construction of the rudder and elevators
so that they will be just fabric covered like the original aircraft. The
original plans I have collected over the years have been very helpful in
the mods I wanted to make to these surfaces. My jig construction is taking
a little while partly because I am busy with other projects at the moment
but also because I am trying to make them to a standard that will allow
them to be used by future builders for many years to come.
Most of my sourcing of parts has been via the internet. For instruments
and other original Air Ministry parts I have used the following suppliers
(for this last one Guy Black has
been very helpful for supplies of original components but you do pay a
premium for some of it as they make it in house!)
For original spec new manufacture components I have had a lot of help from
Russ himself and also a chap by the name of Guy Hooper for construction of
the canopies, windscreen, cockpit doors and radio hatch. I have also been
in contact with Bruce West (aircraft # 2) and we have started the process
of swapping some parts and he will also be supplying some other components
he has done a beautiful job of manufacturing for his aircraft.
For the Allison engine I found it through a very nice chap who is building
an MJ-100 in Arizona. The engine was overhauled by Joe Yancey in Rialto,
California. These engines are still readily available if you know where to
look and are more plentiful and cheaper than the alternative Rolls Royce
Seats being restored and installed with 5-6 coats of shellac to give all the seat panels a good protective coating. In one
picture you can see the front seat waiting to be given the treatment. The
difference is startling I think. I have been able to obtain some original
British hardware for some of the tricky attachment jobs but most of the
seat has been put back together with AN cad plated hardware which looks
great against the rich dark colours of the seat materials and all metal
fittings have been painted in a Satin Enamel called "wilderness", which is
a "Colorbond" colour.
Short Term Goal:
Short term I want to finish setting up the work shop and get back into the
construction of jigs whilst continuing with the metal fittings. From there
it will be one job at a time. I learnt from the previous project, don't
look at the whole project as it can be a little over whelming sometimes.
One job at a time with a long term view of what direction of what you want
it to take and it will look after it's self.
This engine has sat idle since overhaul in 2004 (ish) and needed to be run and inhibited correctly.
This short run sequence was a prelude to a much longer 40 minute engine run with rpm operating as low as 1350 and as high as 2200rpm's. The
engine will be installed in my fullsize replica Tr.9 Spitfire....enjoy!
I hope one day I will finish my Spitfire and be able to take a photo of my
two aircraft like this one below.