Since Warbirds Online last reported on the restoration of Supermarine Spitfire HF Mk. IXb MH415 in March 2017, a huge amount of work has been completed in a short time. When we last visited the aircraft the fuselage frames were being assembled in the purpose built jig and most of the stringers were being put in place. Just four months later the major fuselage structure of MH415 is now virtually complete with the skins, firewall and internal frames all installed and much of the detail fit out is being attended to.
The workmanship of the team at Vintage Fighter Restorations is magnificent and it is clear that this organization has a big future in the Warbird restoration business.
The rapid rate of progress has been assisted in part due to the excellent condition of the aircraft and the completeness of the airframe as received from the USA. The wings which had been placed in jigs at our last visit have now been dismantled and are now in the assembly phase with the first leading edge being assembled during our visit. The empennage of MH415 has also been dismantled and is now in a jig being reassembled and again this is making rapid progress.
Vintage Fighter Restorations have recently taken on additional staff to assist in the restoration work on Spitfires MH603 and MH 415 and this has also had a very positive effect on progress of both machines. In addition MH603 which has been under restoration for some time has provided valuable experience which allows MH415 to be rebuilt faster. In addition as all of the jigs had already been constructed for MH603 this also speeded up the rebuilding task for MH415.
Many of the smaller items from both Spitfires are also receiving attention such as the hydraulic and electrical components as well as the radiators and the rest of the cooling system. The fuel tanks and systems are also being overhauled.
As highlighted in our last update on MH415, the emphasis on this aircraft has centered on retaining as much of the original structure and material of the aircraft as possible. The excellent condition of the aircraft has allowed this goal to be fulfilled to a very large extent and the completed aircraft will have a very high proportion of original components and structure. In fact, it should be emphasized that MH415 will be original except for new rivets and new main spars.
Looking forward the aircraft will now have the detail of the fuselage completed and the laborious task of rebuilding the wings will continue as will the empennage and refurbishment of the aircrafts systems. The engine will then be completed and all of the structures mated into a complete aircraft.
Warbirds Online will continue to report on the progress on the restoration of this Spitfire and the other work taking place at Scone as the highly professional work carried out by Ross Pay and the team at Vintage Fighter Restorations continues. Our thanks, as always go to the team at Scone for their help in preparing this update.
© John Parker 2017