David Glen is seen with one of his earlier models, a scratch built 1/24th scale Re8. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)
Photos of David Glen's fabulous model Spitfire have been circulated on the web for some time. We were finally able to get in contact with him so visitors to our on-line museum can appreciate his work. In addition to the Spitfire, which is now on display in a museum in England, he is now near completion on a similarly sized 1/5 scale P-51 Mustang model. We have included a number of photos of the Spitfire in the photo section at the bottom of this page, but David has been kind enough to include a good selection of photos showing the construction of the P-51 so you can see what goes into a project like this.
The models are not built as a cutaway, so interior detail that cannot be seen is not modeled. But what can be seen is modeled in the high level of detail allowed by the fairly large 1/5 scale, which was chosen for just that reason.
The completed 1/5 scale Spitfire (Click on photo to view a larger image.)
(Click on photo of cover to view a larger image.)
Spitfire book now available!
David Glen has just published a book documenting the building of his 1/5 scale Spitfire model. The book, called Spitfire in my Workshop is published by Brown & Brown Books in England in large format (10" x 12-7/8"), hardbound, full color and of excellent print quality. If you go to his site at http://www.spitfireinmyworkshop.net/book/ you will find ordering information. Anyone interesting in building highly detailed scale models will learn a lot from this book, although it is worth the price just to study the many highly detailed photos of the finished masterpiece. This is a book that should be part of any serious model maker's library.
by David Glen
If anyone asked me why I set out to build a Spitfire
in one-fifth scale, and detailed to the last rivet and fastener, I would
probably be hard-pushed for a practical or even sensible answer. Perhaps the
closest I can get is that since a small child I have been awe inspired by R. J.
Mitchell’s elliptical winged masterpiece, and that to build a small replica is
the closest I will ever aspire to possession.
The job took me well over eleven years, during which there were times I very nearly came to giving the project up for lost. The sheer amount of work involved, countless hours, proved almost too much, were it not for a serendipitous encounter at my flying club in Cambridge with Dr Michael Fopp, Director General of the Royal Air Force Museum in England.
Seeing the near complete fuselage, he urged me to go on and finish the model, promising that he would put it on display. I was flabbergasted, for when I started I had no inkling that my work would end up in a position of honour in one of the world’s premier aviation museums.
David Glen and his wife Eva.
As I write, the case for the model is being prepared, having been specially commissioned by the museum with a case-maker in Sweden. I have not yet seen it, but from what I hear, it is enormous!
In one respect the story has gone full circle, since it was at Hendon where I started my research in earnest, sourcing Microfilm copies of many original Supermarine drawings, without which such a detailed build would not have been possible.
The model is skinned with litho plate over a balsa core and has been left in bare metal at the suggestion of Michael Fopp, so that the structure is seen to best advantage. The rivets are real and many are pushed into drilled holes in the skin and underlying balsa, but many more are actual mechanical fixings. I have no accurate count, but I suspect that there are at least 19,000!
The cockpit is complete down to the smallest lettering and includes all the instruments and controls. (Click on photo to view a larger image.)
All interior detail is built from a combination of Supermarine drawings and workshop manuals, plus countless photographs of my own, many of them taken opportunistically when I was a volunteer at the Duxford Aviation Society based at Duxford Airfield, home of the incomparable Imperial War Museum collection in Cambridgeshire, England. Spitfires, in various marks are, dare I say, a common feature there!
The degree of detail is probably obsessive: The needles of the dials in the cockpit actually stand proud of the instrument faces, but you have to look hard to see it!
Why the flat canopy? Well, the early Mk.I's had them, and I had no means to blow a bubble hood, so it was convenient. Similarly the covers over the wheels were another early feature and they saved me a challenging task of replicating the wheel castings.
The model has its mistakes, but I’ll leave the experts to spot them, as they most certainly will, plus others I don’t even know about. I don’t pretend the little Spitfire is perfect, but I do hope it has captured something of the spirit and incomparable beauty of this magnificent fighter – perhaps the closest to a union that art and technology have ever come – a killing machine with lines that are almost sublime.
So, with the model now in its magnificent new home, what comes next? Well, I’m planning a book that will have a lot to say about its genesis and perhaps just a little about me and those dear to me, including a long suffering but understanding and supportive wife. And then there’s the Mustang… Yes, a 1/5th scale P-51D is already taking shape in my workshop. How long will it take? I’ve no idea, but what I am sure of is that at my age (58) I can’t expect to be building many of them!*
*Note that 7 years later the P-51 is also complete. See photos of the model in the photo section below. Mr. Glen notes: “I have donated the model to the Royal Air Force Museum at Cosford for permanent display as my small tribute to the US pilots and crews who gave their lives in support of their British and European allies over two World Wars.”
Mr. Glen’s personal web site at http://www.spitfireinmyworkshop.net/ includes many additional photos of the projects.
The work on David's models is done in a beautiful setting. See the photos below to get an idea of some of the tools David uses in the production of his fine models.
David's compact shop has a garden view and access to all the necessary tools of the modeler's trade. Shown above are his Conquest lathe and Proxxon jigsaw.
Also in the shop is a larger 10" x 21.5" lathe and a benchtop milling machine.
(Click photo for larger image.)
1/5 scale Spitfire
|A view from the left side shows how part of the cockpit opens up to allow the pilot to enter.|
|This detail shows the flaps lowered and the unique shape of the exhaust pipes|
|A low front view shows the landing gear and some of the propeller detail.|
|Landing gear and wheel well detail. The second photo shows the tail wheel.|
|Instrument panel, control column and other cockpit detail|
|Detail on right side of the cockpit|
|A close-up of the control for the landing gear|
|Pilot seat and headrest|
|Note that the instrument needles actually project above the surface of each instrument under the clear glass covers. Though not actually functional, they sure look like they could be.|
|The carburettor air scoop has some very graceful but difficult to make compound curves.|
|Wing flap detail is seen from the rear and below.|
|If we pull in closer on part of the hinge you can see more detail of the split flap.|
|Coming in even closer on part of the above photo you can see how good the level of finish detail is on the smallest parts.|
|The underbelly ident. light|
The radiator under the starboard wing. David explains how he created the radiator mesh on his website.
|The Spitfire’s top wing skins have a small door which opens to accommodate the actuator mechanism when the flaps are lowered.|
|Rudder detail showing the tail light|
|Rudder and elevator trim tab control linkages|
|The antenna attachment point atop the vertical stabilizer|
|The pilot's rear view mirror|
1/5 Scale P-51 Mustang
Early stages of fuselage construction. The profile and transverse sections are cut from plywood and in-filled with solid balsa. The right hand picture also shows the four aluminium main longerons fixed in place with epoxy glue.
The frames around the cockpit opening are filled with thin balsa sheet, rendering the structure strong enough to remove the superfluous plywood, thus opening out the cockpit interior. (David’s Westie puppy called ‘Bonnie’ has volunteered to be the ‘test pilot’.) The right hand picture was taken several months later when much interior structure and some exterior skin had been added, providing significant additional strength.
|Work progresses on the exterior skin and rivet detail. Note the coloration of the panels around the exhaust manifold, which is characteristic of the Mustang. About a year’s work separates these two images.|
The P-51D has a fabric covered rudder, which is shown here in various stages of completion. Note the rib tapes and rib stitching detail. The rudder trim tab is metal skinned and has prominent rivet detail. By adjusting trim tabs on the rudder, elevators and ailerons during flight the pilot removes control pressure, making the aircraft easier to fly.
|The finished and part-painted tail section.|
|The model during the early stages of painting. David deliberately chose a ‘minimalist’ paint scheme so as not to conceal fine skin detail.|
|National insignia and codes have been added, along with some of the stencilling. The latter are applied as rubdowns made in a commercial reprographics studio from artwork created by David on his Apple Mac.|
|The red, green and amber identification lights under the port wing. Look hard and you can just see the bulbs.|
|The spinner is one of only two components that David ‘sub-contracted’ (the other being the Perspex for the sliding hood). The aluminium blank was supplied as one spun part and later sectioned on David’s lathe. The left hand picture shows progress on the rivet detail.|
|The underside of the P-51 showing the completed radiator air scoop and the part-assembled landing gear|
|Early and late stages in the fitting out of the port-side wheel-bay. For work like this, the factory drawings are indispensable!|
|The manifold fairings were made of vac-formed styrene for convenience. The cast resin core provides a means to retain the individual exhaust stubs.|
|The partially completed instrument panel is dry-fitted. Note the prominent central console with plate for the fuel control switch.|
|The port side of the cockpit during dry-fitting of the main console and throttle quadrant assemblies.|
|The right-hand side of the cockpit showing extensive detail, including the fuselage frames. The Mustang’s cockpit has numerous data placards. These are replicated using custom rubdowns applied to thin alloy foil. The two curved examples are for the main landing gear.|
|The completed instrument panel assembly|
|The completed port side cockpit console which includes the controls for the trim tabs (the large wheels) and for the flaps (yellow lever).|
|Various views of the near completed cockpit and a detail of the sculpted grip for the top of the control column. This was carved from a scrap of two-part resin. The red button at the top fires the 50-calibre machine guns in the wings of the real P-51D.|
|The pilot’s seat and armour plate. The seat frame is made of brass but the back and seat-pan are aluminium alloy pressings. Note the head protector (real leather from a dolls house supplier).|
|The structure for the radiator air scoop before covering with aluminum sheet|
|The fuselage fuel tank under construction and finished. The cutaway at the bottom is not visible and only there to aid installation in the confined space. Note also various related sheet metal components, including fuselage frame, seat supports and the rack for the battery and VHF transmitter installed immediately above the inflatable fuel tank.|
|Radiator and oil cooler mesh panels|
|David’s technique for flush riveting: The rivet runs are marked off the drawing, drilled and chamfered. Then the rivets are installed one by one, each with a tiny dab of cyanoacrylate glue. The excess is trimmed off with end cutters and the rivet rows carefully sanded flush, prior to final polishing. The airframe features numerous rivet sizes. It takes a long, long time!|
|Various hydraulic, pneumatic and fuel lines are routed through holes in the wing ribs. One of the hydraulic jacks is just visible.|
|One of the finished landing gear doors. The basic shape is from carved bass wood, but the entire structure is metal skinned.|
|The 50-calibre machine gun ports were one of the most challenging tasks on the model. David explains how he did them on his website.|
A detail of the retractable tail wheel mechanism and doors. The wheel and tyre have yet to be fitted.
Nearing completion... Bonnie, now seven years old, poses with the P-51D. Main wheels and tyres have yet to be made and fitted and the aircraft still lacks its Hamilton Standard airscrew and beautiful sliding canopy... jobs for another day!
|FINISHED PHOTOS!...The project is now completed and will soon be on its way to the RAF museum. David submitted some final detail photos taken by a professional photographer.|
|Details of the landing gear and inside the wheel well can be seen in these photos of the finished model.|
|The machine gun ports can be seen along with the lowered landing gear. Note the detailed engrave information plate on the main gear strutt.|
|Cockpit controls and labeling are now completed. It looks like you could climb in and fire it up.|
Earlier model projects
1/24 Daimler RE8—This was only David's third entirely scratch built model. It can also be seen in the photo with David at the very top of this web page. In his web page, David notes the following:
"My replica of the Imperial War Museum's RE8, "Paddy Bird", took the best part of a year to do, and I owe a debt of gratitude to restorer David Upton for allowing me access to photograph the machine at Duxford airfield during its most recent rebuild. Built by Daimler in 1918, F3556 never saw action. It is documented to have been test flown in October of that year and, with 30 minutes on the airframe, delivered to France on Armistice Day! Still in its original crate, the aircraft was acquired by the IWM and unveilled at Crystal Palace in 1920. In 1974 it was transferred to Duxford in Cambridgeshire and restored shortly afterwards before going on permanent display. Paddy Bird's second major refurbishment (during which I photographed the machine) began in 2003. The aircraft, one of only two surviving examples, now resides in Duxford's Airspace feature where, rather sadly, much of it is now inaccessible to close study as it hangs from the ceiling. By the time I started on Paddy Bird - my third totally scratch built model in 1/24th scale - my confidence had grown, and I think it shows. The model has been featured in Windsock International and by Scale Aircraft Modelling. Inevitably, my thanks go to Ray Rimell of Albatros p[roductions for his excellent three-views."
More of David's earlier models can be seen at http://www.spitfireinmyworkshop.net/scratch-gallery.php
1/24 Hawker Hurricane Mk1—David started out in modeling building plastic kits while adding additional details seen behind removed panels. Of this model he says:
"Completed in my early 30s, this was my first serious attempt to go beyond ‘kit bashing’. It is also my first 1/24th scale model, and building it sowed the seeds that grew into an obsession with detail which later found expression in my big 1/5th scale endeavours. The model was inspired by Bruce Robertson and Gerald Scarborough's little Airfix book on ‘superdetailing’ the Hurricane, for which I am forever grateful, since it opened the door to many, many hours of pleasure and a few of pain!!"
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