Warbirds in my Workshop

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

Formerly Spitfire in my Workshop

Frog-eye nav light fairings

Sunday, 6th November, 2016

Before proceeding to skin the wing tips, I needed to provide for the navigation lights and their distinctive frog-eye fairings.


It took just a few minutes to lathe-turn and drill the cylindrical nav-light casings from scraps of high-density model board, and about the same time to cut a recess in each wing tip to receive them. As can be seen in the photos, I also turned two mushroom shaped plugs to act as surrogate clear parts (which would come later).


Anyone familiar with the story of my first Spitfire may recall that I used milk bottle tops as the basis for the frog-eyes; this time I decided to follow a rather more conventional pathway by using a lay-up of fine-grade glass cloth and two-part resin.


The pictures of the lay-up stage make clear the purpose of the mushroom plug and how I stretched a thin latex membrane (cut from a surgical glove) over the assembly. The membrane serves the obvious purpose of preventing the resin from sticking, but it also very effectively transforms the sharp angularities either side of the casings into the smooth fluid contours characteristic of the finished part.


I used three layers of glass, alternating the direction of weave and stippling in the resin sparingly. This is standard practise, although four or five layers of glass might have been preferable in hindsight.


After hardening hardening overnight, the mouldings came away easily and were just as easily cut to shape with small, sharp scissors. The 90-degree notch for the light took more care but was simple to cut with the help of a set of needle files. Three or four coats of grey automotive primer finished the job.


It will be some time before I have to make and fit the clear red and green nav light ‘bulbs’, but their frog-eye covers will be needed very shortly when I come to cutting and fitting the wing tip skin sections.

Back to Spitfire Mk IX Diary

The starboard side nav light housing glued into position on the wingtip.
A little wood filler follows, and a dome shaped plug that acts as a surrogate light bulb.
This latex is stretched and taped over the assembly...
..and the glass fiber lay-up follows.
After curing the piece is removed without damage...
..and trimmed and pierced to shape. The plug is retained. Two copies will be turned from clear acetate to complete the red and green port and starboard assemblies.
The starboard side frog-eye fairing after spraying with automotive primer.
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.