The Construction of the Hybrid Spitfire Replica Simulator

A labour of love, six years in the Making

The story of the construction of a full size Spifire Simulator with and authentic Spitfire experience.

Wind Beneath The Wings

The Idea Comes of Age

  • 2006: The Dream Forms. The idea to build a full scale replica mid war Spitfire took root in 2006. At that stage is was an aspiration and something on the bucket list.
  • Cutting My Teeth. During intervening time, Andrew cut his teeth learning how to build a life scale replica Spitfire at Blackpool Airport being part of a local life size replica display team.

Buying the Kit

The Gerry Maguire moment as I show the money and buy the basic life scale kit. All in bits and a jigsaw puzzle with a big splash of headache.

Spitfire_1943

Wheeling and Dealing - Aquiring Kit

The intention was to do something no one else has. Acquire and install all original WW2 Spitefire parts on the replica. A labour of love involving travelling the whole length of the UK to meet sellers. The parts had to right and functional.

This is where my lifetime interest in aviation paid off. Parts were also sourced via the internet, aero jumbles, private collectors and museums from many locations around UK and Europe.

Preparation of Spitfire Parts

Making the undercarriage

A key milestone was to get the Spitfire off the floor and on to an undercarriage. This had to be custom made and was done to an incredibly high technical standard by a local engineering company, WEC Group Ltd.

The undercarriage legs took 100 hours to design and build, using original engineering drawings and an original oleo to work with. At the same time a bespoke main spar and cockpit floor was manufactured and fitted.

Wheeling and dealing came in again where a previously acquired detailed half size Sea Harrier FA2 was loaned to them in exchange for their valuable contribution to this project.

Fixing the wings

The life size jigsaw puzzle did not progress easily and securing the wings to the fuselage proved to be problematical.

Flight gear

Wishing to make a totally immersive experience, Andrew has built a full collection of WW2 fighter pilot gear. Visitors can dress like latter day RAF heroes before they take to the skies making the experience so much more memorable … great for the selfie or photo shoot.

Gremlins in the software

Throughout the testing of the flight simulator, the software has always been an issue with Gremlins running riot across the system. Following several re-boots, peace and calm reign and the fun begins.

The Flight Instruments

Each instrument has been replicated so that it will interface with modern electronics and the computer to give a good representation of analogue instruments that reflect flight conditions.

Most of the switches used are original and have been restored so that they are functional. Some provide simple on off function, whilst others provide on off and logic sensing that the interface electronics interpret to allow the simulation environment to respond.

This functionality with the flight simulator  gives  a real sense of flying the plane. 

Marry up wings and fuselage

Initial-marry-up-wings-&-fuselage-left
Ian-Spirtfire
front-view-marry-up

2017: The Spifire Simulator Comes Together

The Spitfire is complete, all flying instruments are in and fully linked to the flight simulator. Missions flown have included tackling a hoard of Germans JU 88 and Henkel 111’s as they approach the White Cliffs of Diver through to exhilarating low level flights across the South Downs, over the lakes and through the mountains of the lake district.

Take of and landings from Blackpool, Gatwick and Rye Airports have also been practiced. However, still many glitches and not yet good to go.

Spitfire-in-front-of-display

For more information on the location of the Spitfire Simulator and bookings click here:

Building the Spitfire Replica

fuselage & engine panels

FUSELAGE

The fuselage is carefully constructed fiberglass, faithful to the original specifications.
major parts & wheels
wings & fuselage

INSTRUMENTAION

The internal cockpit and instrumentation is either original or reconditioned to ensure the simulator pilot has an authentic experience.

trial fit
insrument panel
IMG_20160225_192525557
riveting frame to glazing
glazing fitting
P1010561

CANOPY

After extensive restoration, the addition of the canopy ensures that the visual simulator experience is complete.

armoured plate & headrest
right upper rear cockpit

Spifire Construction

Every effort has been made to ensure authenticity and realism throughout the build/restoration.

door and latch

The Spitfire Simulator - Construction Facts

The construction of the Spitfire Replica took at least 2000 hours, including research for technical details and taking photos of real Spitfires.

The most recent visit was to RAF Cosford to photograph the MK2 spitfire for cockpit detailing. In May we looked at a 1 Sqdn RAF spitfire in Scotland.

airplane

Sourcing the Parts

The Market cost of the whole simulator system, with audio, visual and tentage is valued now about £80 000 total.

  • Cost of some high value items: Gun sight £850
  • Flying controls £4500
  • Radio, windscreen wash pump £3350
  • KIGAS Fuel Primer £130.

The hardest item to source was the gun sight, at a cost that wasn’t extortionate.

BBMF, NW Air ambulance. Huey display team, Spitfire Restorations, Duxford have visited the Spitfire Replica Simulator 

So far around 120 people have flown the Spitfire Simulator, the youngest about 16, the oldest 85.

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