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Old 11-06-2020, 11:41 AM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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Default Battle of Britain Spitfire Homage

Hi folks - itís been a while... hope you are all ok in these strange times!

I was recently commissioned by a customer to create a kinetic Spitfire sculpture for his fatherís 60th birthday. Heíd seen a similar sculpture created by Richard Cresswell here in the UK. Anyway, I took a look at the project and decided I could create something similar, albeit ďonlyĒ six and a half feet tall!

Iíll post all of the build pictures on here and discuss how I made it, what I learned from it and highlight one or two ďmistakesĒ I made and how I ratified them.

Metal shaping is all about learning. Iím 53 now, and make more then my fair share of mistakes, but luckily have just enough experience to dig myself out of the hole I dug! Sometimes itís best to put the hammer down, put the kettle on and think, think think. The solution will normally present itself, but... only after a breather to regain all rationality!

Anyway, let me start. The customer presented me with a beautiful Spitfire model, which I could use for scaling and measurements.

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Old 11-06-2020, 11:44 AM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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So, in the first image Iím playing with the fuselage shape. The Spit needs to look like itís at speed in a fully banked turn. Iíve taken the dimensions from the model and transferred the data on to sheet steel. To help draw the outline, Iím using magnets and bendy thin wood...
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Old 11-06-2020, 11:50 AM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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The outline is then transferred onto 0.080” aluminium, taking into account the dimensions required to make the fuselage from two halves:

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Last edited by Stretch; 11-06-2020 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 11-06-2020, 11:55 AM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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I then cut out three blanks from 0.080Ē aluminium: two for the fuselage halves a third to create a central reinforcement plate, to give rigidity to the structure:

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Old 11-06-2020, 11:56 AM
Gareth Davies Gareth Davies is offline
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Subscribed. Will be interesting to see how this progresses.
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Old 11-06-2020, 12:10 PM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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The two halves of the fuselage are placed flat together and then seam welded all of the way around. I then fully anneal both sides of the flat form. I’m using a technique I played with a while back, which for want of any better description I’m going to call pressure annealing.

A simple piece of tube - the diameter of my compressed air blow gun - is then welded to the outside edge. This will allow compressed air to blow in the centre - similar to hydroforming. Then... compressed air is blown into the two halves and - voila - the shape of the fuselage takes form. Now, and here’s the slight tricky part that’s not without some pitfallls... I use the oxy-acetylene to anneal where I want the shape to form whilst on the fly. Essentially, I’m keeping the structure under pressure with air at shop pressure (under 100 psi - yep, that low), and coax the shape to form with judicious annealing.

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Last edited by Stretch; 11-06-2020 at 12:48 PM.
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Old 11-06-2020, 12:15 PM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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As you can see, a lot of the shape is already created and itís a relatively simple process. Yes, itís a long way from a finished article, but 80% is there and the beauty is you have two identical halves!



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Old 11-06-2020, 12:22 PM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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The two halves are then bandsawed apart, the welds filed off and itís time to smooth out and refine the shape. The weapon of choice here is my trusty air planisher. Iím using an acetal upper hammer in a homemade tool. This is to avoid damage marks to the aluminium.



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Old 11-06-2020, 12:58 PM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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The nose was a tricky section. The pressure forming came up short here, mostly due to the extreme amount of shape. A little traditional beating was definitely necessary...

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Old 11-06-2020, 01:01 PM
Stretch Stretch is offline
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Time to get medieval on its ass! A bit of old school stump shrinking and shaping. Obviously both sides (halves) need to match...

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