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.  

The Project:

Corby Starlet 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 April 2000.


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.

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.

Useful Contacts:

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 so far;
(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 Merlin V-12.



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.

Pictures and Progress

Tail Chase

On a Wing and a Prayer

The Story So Far

Fuselage Fun

Keep on Flapping

Spitfire Sidebar

June 11, 2010 - First run of my Allison V-1710-99 V-12 engine

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.

Spitfire with Corby Starlet


Return to previous page