Researchers have recently managed to build a reconstruction of a spitfire from fibreglass, in an amazing project run by the Spitfire Heritage Trust. This project has seen the plane built using fibreglass materials and adhesives to create a replica of one of the most iconic planes in WWII history.
The Supermarine Spitfire MK VB Type 359 was an important part of the British military, and was produced from 1938 until 1948. This Spitfire was the very first all-metal, stressed skin aircraft, and was designed by expert engineer Reginald Mitchell.
The Creation of the Aircraft
The aircraft was recreated using laminating resins and structural adhesive materials. These were used to mould the plastic parts. The metal bonding adhesive used enabled the parts to weld together in a safe way to give a highly durable finish and a realistic appearance.
The replica Spitfire was built by UK volunteers as a gift from the Kingdom of Lesotho, in order to pay tribute to the ‘Gift of War’ given by the people of Basutoland in 1940. The whole project took the small production team four years to complete, but they managed to finish in time for the 50th anniversary of Lesotho’s independence from Great Britain.
The Spitfire Heritage Trust
This slow and careful building of a Spitfire is not the first time such an attempt has been made. Alan James built a full size replica of the aircraft in his own garden this year. The driving instructor took three years to build the wooden plane. This was a personal project thanks to Alan’s love of Spitfires, in contrast to the international project undertaken by the Spitfire Heritage Trust.
The Lesotho Spitfire had to be made with careful consideration, given to the possible exposure to the elements. This was because the aircraft replica will be displayed as an outdoor show piece. The research team had to research extensively to ensure the right adhesive was used to cope with the rain, intense sunlight and extremes of temperature of Lesotho. Thankfully, details about these adhesives can be found in many places, such as online at http://www.ct1ltd.com/en/metal-to-metal-adhesive.html.
The finished replica was shipped to Lesotho on Remembrance Day. The aircraft will now stand proudly in the Central Memorial Park of the capital city of Maseru.