Warbirds in my Workshop

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

Formerly Spitfire in my Workshop

Belly skin and ident light

Thursday, 31st December, 2015

Shortly after installing the Vokes filter I made and fitted the strip of belly skin aft of it. It took several days because this elongated and rather complex panel is heavy in detail, including – among other things – the prominent amber-coloured identification light.


Cutting the panel itself, with its numerous openings and embayments, required care (see picture), but the real interest lay more in the detail:


The control column and fuel valve access panes were straightforward, and I cut the latter from thicker material so it stands slightly proud of the surrounding skin.


I turned the tiny dome shaped drop tank fuel transfer valve from brass and cut away the balsa substrate to make room for it, and I also cut away internal space for the hinged electrical socket and its protective cap which has a distinctly three dimensional feel.


I turned the conical ident light housing from solid aluminium, making it significantly shallower than scale to avoid breaking through into the cockpit interior, where a false light housing had been installed. Nonetheless, careful localised excavation of the balsa-ply substrate was necessary to accommodate the fitting precisely beneath its internal counterpart. Hopefully, my photograph proves that the subterfuge is unnoticeable.


The ‘glass’ is tinted amber with several coats of transparent paint from an automotive supplier, and the ‘bulb’ is a pearl-frosted bead of the kind found in craft shops.


Finally, with the assembly glued in place, I invested several hours on marking and drilling the close spaced rivet runs and holes for sundry screw fasteners. I describe my method for applying rivet detail elsewhere on this website and in my book, Spitfire in my Workshop, so I can skip over it here.


Other localised fittings remain to do, including the three drop-tank anchor points and a drain hole fairing, but of these in due course.


Back to Spitfire Mk IX Diary

The intricate belly skin panel and some component parts, including the control column and fuel valve access plates.
Provision had to be made for the drop tank transfer valve.
Component parts of the belly light assembly. Note the little bulb.
The interior reflector housing should be deeper, but few would spot it. Note the hinged and spring loaded electrical socket cover, which in the real aircraft pops up out of the fuselage skin
Marking and drilling the rivet holes takes patience and accuracy because it can make or mar the piece.
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.