Warbirds in my Workshop

David Glen BSc (Hons) MSc, Model Maker, Journalist and Author

Formerly Spitfire in my Workshop

Installing the upper sidewalls

Monday, 28th December, 2015

There are certain stages in the saga a scratch built model that change the landscape at a stroke. In the case of my Spitfire Mk IX the installation of the instrument panel followed closely by the enclosing upper cockpit sidewalls is one such event, because it opened the way for me to begin skinning the fuselage with metal and thereby gain a glimpse of the model’s finished potential.


Firstly, however, a potentially tricky piece of surgery: To achieve and retain the required curvature of the port upper sidewall, I built the sub assembly with the cockpit door area integral. Clearly, before installation the ‘door’ needed to be removed, but how without causing serious damage or distortion to the workpiece? In the end I resorted – successfully, I am glad to say – to painstaking and repeated scoring of the 0.5mm alloy with a sharp scalpel blade used against a flexible straight edge.


From then on the task was straightforward:  First, after cleaning paint from all contacting surfaces, the panels were glued and pinned into position using viscous cyanoacrylate.  The bond was consolidated from the outside by carefully applying very thin cyanoacrylate, which penetrates deep into the joints.


Finally, and with more thick superglue, the entire bare metal exterior of the installed panels was laminated with 1/16” balsawood, which further enhanced structural strength and rigidity. On drying the balsa was sanded accurately, using wood filler where necessary, to fair neatly fore and aft with the existing fuselage lines.  Job done!  

Back to Spitfire Mk IX Diary

Following removal of redundant material by way of the cockpit door, the port side sub-assembly is ready for permanent installation.
The job is pinned in position while the glue sets.
A neat job when examined internally.
Now the starboard assembly is glued in place after checking for precise alignment of the canopy rail.
The thin balsa laminate adds considerable additional structural strength and it provides a margin by which any slight error in exterior contouring and alignment can be corrected by means of careful sanding.
Sanding and filling under way on the port side.
Mustang in my Workshop book cover

Mustang in my Workshop

A book to inspire, encourage and empower the enthusiastic model maker to scratch build a masterpiece.