Birth of a Spitfire

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Duke999

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Jan 21, 2012
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I just thought members would like to know that I have published an Ebook on Kindle based on a book I wrote a few years ago entitled "Birth of a Spitfire" The content is all about my trials and tribulations of building a full size replica Spitfire! I have also posted a video of the Spitfire flying on Youtube

Amazon link.
 
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skier

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I would guess this is it

 
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Duke999

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Sorry for delay in replying, I've been on holiday. The specs were exact to the original prototype Spitfire, not the production ones. Were you thinking of building one?
 

addaon

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Here's a link (amazon).

I read this book yesterday, so I'll give a few brief thoughts for the forum (a target audience those of us who hope to build our own designs some day).

It's always somewhat awkward to review a book when you know the author will read the review. Clive: I'm incredibly impressed by what you've done, and can only aspire to some day actually accomplish my dream like you have. As you'll see from my other posts on this forum, I favor clarity and bluntness over politeness and weasel words, so if I don't polish my language, please don't take it personally.

First off, the book as a book. If you're reading this comment, it's on a topic that you'll find interesting. It's also quite a quick read. If you read for enjoyment, this is a good way to spend $10.

Next, treating the book as a resource for the topics of our forum. What will you learn?

1) It's possible! Clive took on a project more ambitious than most of ours. He didn't build a Spitfire, he built a completely new from-scratch wooden design for a much lighter aircraft, with the further constraint that it had to look almost exactly like a Spitfire from the outside. Everyone here has heard from Orion that "if you start changing one thing, you'll end up needing to design a completely new aircraft." Clive knew that he'd have to change (at least) the engine, and tackled the problem by designing a new airplane from the outset. And pulled it off!

2) People are the most valuable tool you have. My impression from the book is that Clive's own aeronautical design knowledge is limited. From the topics explicitly discussed in the book, I'd judge that he's where I hope our new members get within a year of really paying attention to the forums. Similarly, it's clear that his woodworking skills developed from "quite limited" over the course of the project; it's unclear if he welds; and I suspect that part of his bias towards a wooden aircraft in the beginning was unfamiliarity with aluminum working. Rather than trying to learn everything, he found folks to help him design, build, machine special parts, etc. (Most of the story of the book is that of the people involved in the project, their contributions, and how it all came together). Speaking for myself, I could probably learn a lot from this one; I tend to lean towards feeling like I need to understand the route to arrive at the destination, rather than taking a "project management" role of making sure the destination is completely defined and finding the appropriate experts to apply domain knowledge.

3) The internet is awesome. More personal bias here, but one thing that crossed my mind several times as Clive describes the chains of friends and lucky networking contacts that lead him along his quest is just how much easier it would be today, where it's easier to find the folks with the right experience, get in touch with them, and start conservations crossing national and even language barriers. There's a cost to this as well -- part of the magic of Clive's story is that folks that got involved for one reason ended up staying on for a dozen more, forming a real group of folk who had a hands-on roll in building the Spit, and some of that camaraderie depends on physical location. But if people are our most valuable tool, the internet (canned information and the ability to find and contact people) isn't all that far behind.

What won't you learn?

1) How to build a Spit. That's fine, that was never supposed to be the purpose of the book, but let's be completely clear.

2) How to design a Spit. The extent that Clive was actually involved in Ray's design is unclear, but whatever it was, absolutely no design specifics appear in the book. Want to know what the skin thicknesses were? How the spar join was done? That's just not what the book is about; it's a story about construction, not a specs page, however much some of us might wish for a more technical appendix. Perhaps we can get Clive to engage us in a more technical discussion here, though.

3) How successful the Spit was. The project was a success: Clive accomplished his goal of building and flying his own Spitfire. But how well did it fly? What were its flying characteristics? What was the experience like, besides exhilarating? How was the transition from the Miles Messenger that Clive learned on and flew before the Spit? In the end, was the thrill knowing that the goal had been completed, or was the Spit a great craft in its own right? There's very little discussion of flying, and it's not clear how many hours Clive actually flew it. Perhaps there's not much story to tell here -- it's clear that the real world, in the guise of money, intruded far too soon -- but even that would be interesting to know.

So, in summary: You'll probably enjoy reading this for the story, so if that's your kind of thing, don't hesitate. The technical info is so scarce as to be nonexistent, and you're not going to put down the book having thought of a new way to overcome that technical hurdle you're stuck on; but you'll end up with a refreshed faith that your own project is possible, and perhaps a better sense that the people around you are what you need to pull it off. That's not a bad outcome for a reading!
 

topspeed100

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Sorry for delay in replying, I've been on holiday. The specs were exact to the original prototype Spitfire, not the production ones. Were you thinking of building one?

No Duke999...but I am trying to create a masterpice like a Spitfire was...I have multitapered wings and typological way how Mitchell created the rudder and elevators gave me a feeling that now I have created a new Spitfire..it sorta gives a same impression as when I looked at the Spitfire the first time. Coincidentally its 1/6 scale model will have same spinner that I used on my 1/12 scale Spitfire model in 1990...just cleaned and modified a bit.
 

Windsor Mike

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Thanks for the link and the comments.

Here's a link (amazon).

I read this book yesterday, so I'll give a few brief thoughts for the forum (a target audience those of us who hope to build our own designs some day).

It's always somewhat awkward to review a book when you know the author will read the review. Clive: I'm incredibly impressed by what you've done, and can only aspire to some day actually accomplish my dream like you have. As you'll see from my other posts on this forum, I favor clarity and bluntness over politeness and weasel words, so if I don't polish my language, please don't take it personally.

First off, the book as a book. If you're reading this comment, it's on a topic that you'll find interesting. It's also quite a quick read. If you read for enjoyment, this is a good way to spend $10.

Next, treating the book as a resource for the topics of our forum. What will you learn?

1) It's possible! Clive took on a project more ambitious than most of ours. He didn't build a Spitfire, he built a completely new from-scratch wooden design for a much lighter aircraft, with the further constraint that it had to look almost exactly like a Spitfire from the outside. Everyone here has heard from Orion that "if you start changing one thing, you'll end up needing to design a completely new aircraft." Clive knew that he'd have to change (at least) the engine, and tackled the problem by designing a new airplane from the outset. And pulled it off!

2) People are the most valuable tool you have. My impression from the book is that Clive's own aeronautical design knowledge is limited. From the topics explicitly discussed in the book, I'd judge that he's where I hope our new members get within a year of really paying attention to the forums. Similarly, it's clear that his woodworking skills developed from "quite limited" over the course of the project; it's unclear if he welds; and I suspect that part of his bias towards a wooden aircraft in the beginning was unfamiliarity with aluminum working. Rather than trying to learn everything, he found folks to help him design, build, machine special parts, etc. (Most of the story of the book is that of the people involved in the project, their contributions, and how it all came together). Speaking for myself, I could probably learn a lot from this one; I tend to lean towards feeling like I need to understand the route to arrive at the destination, rather than taking a "project management" role of making sure the destination is completely defined and finding the appropriate experts to apply domain knowledge.

3) The internet is awesome. More personal bias here, but one thing that crossed my mind several times as Clive describes the chains of friends and lucky networking contacts that lead him along his quest is just how much easier it would be today, where it's easier to find the folks with the right experience, get in touch with them, and start conservations crossing national and even language barriers. There's a cost to this as well -- part of the magic of Clive's story is that folks that got involved for one reason ended up staying on for a dozen more, forming a real group of folk who had a hands-on roll in building the Spit, and some of that camaraderie depends on physical location. But if people are our most valuable tool, the internet (canned information and the ability to find and contact people) isn't all that far behind.

What won't you learn?

1) How to build a Spit. That's fine, that was never supposed to be the purpose of the book, but let's be completely clear.

2) How to design a Spit. The extent that Clive was actually involved in Ray's design is unclear, but whatever it was, absolutely no design specifics appear in the book. Want to know what the skin thicknesses were? How the spar join was done? That's just not what the book is about; it's a story about construction, not a specs page, however much some of us might wish for a more technical appendix. Perhaps we can get Clive to engage us in a more technical discussion here, though.

3) How successful the Spit was. The project was a success: Clive accomplished his goal of building and flying his own Spitfire. But how well did it fly? What were its flying characteristics? What was the experience like, besides exhilarating? How was the transition from the Miles Messenger that Clive learned on and flew before the Spit? In the end, was the thrill knowing that the goal had been completed, or was the Spit a great craft in its own right? There's very little discussion of flying, and it's not clear how many hours Clive actually flew it. Perhaps there's not much story to tell here -- it's clear that the real world, in the guise of money, intruded far too soon -- but even that would be interesting to know.

So, in summary: You'll probably enjoy reading this for the story, so if that's your kind of thing, don't hesitate. The technical info is so scarce as to be nonexistent, and you're not going to put down the book having thought of a new way to overcome that technical hurdle you're stuck on; but you'll end up with a refreshed faith that your own project is possible, and perhaps a better sense that the people around you are what you need to pull it off. That's not a bad outcome for a reading!
 

dalek56

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actually, i know a guy who is building one. he's a retires airline pilot and A&P. he started buying and rebuilding wrecked ac...moved up to stearmans and now to this. i was over his house this week getting advice and material to repair my elevator and got a chance to look it over. very nice! here's a couple of pics i snapped with my phone. thats the fuse upside down on the bench and the other is the allison he plans to use...the malcom hood is ontop of it. i can get you more info..may be clives design or someone elses...but you better have DEEP pockets. the malcom hood alone was 4K i didnt even ask him how much the allison was...

posted on the other thread too..
 

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topspeed100

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actually, i know a guy who is building one. he's a retires airline pilot and A&P. he started buying and rebuilding wrecked ac...moved up to stearmans and now to this. i was over his house this week getting advice and material to repair my elevator and got a chance to look it over. very nice! here's a couple of pics i snapped with my phone. thats the fuse upside down on the bench and the other is the allison he plans to use...the malcom hood is ontop of it. i can get you more info..may be clives design or someone elses...but you better have DEEP pockets. the malcom hood alone was 4K i didnt even ask him how much the allison was...

posted on the other thread too..
Wasn't this post production K5054 actually powered with a Jaguar car engine ?


Pete Thorn the test pilot just passed away last year; http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-463711.html
 
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addaon

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Yes, it was powered by an unboosted, geared Jaguar, giving about 350 hp... this limited power was a large part of why the design was done from scratch to be so much lighter.
 

dalek56

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i have no idea about the history of this model....just that the guy i know plans on hanging that allison on the front, adding wing tanks, and a second seat.
 

PTAirco

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Clive, you ought to bring out a technical history of the project, aimed at people like us who like to see all the nitty gritty details, including the engine conversion.

I really enjoyed seeing it when I lived in England, but never close enough to examine the details.
 

craig saxon

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Clive, you ought to bring out a technical history of the project, aimed at people like us who like to see all the nitty gritty details, including the engine conversion.

I really enjoyed seeing it when I lived in England, but never close enough to examine the details.
I'll second that, I have the original book which was a great read but lacked a little on the technical side.
 
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