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Old 15th Jan 2012, 23:47   #1 (permalink)
 
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Spitfire Mk 26 - real or not real?

There's a buch of enthusiasts at Enstone Airfield building a Squadron of 12x Supermarine Mk26b Spitfires at present. The name Supermarine was bought by an Australian a while back and the Mk26b is about 90% the size of the earlier Spitfires built in the 30s and 40s. It is all metal, has a 6 litre V8 and has the narrow track undercarriage that was always a handfull - see here for more Supermarine Aircraft Spitfire

Now there are those that say it isn't a real Spitfire - but it is manufactured by the Supermarine Aircraft Company. One of those that have had a right spat about them is Carolyn Grace (shame I thought better of her) in a recent edition of the Light Aviation magazine:



I for one think it's great as it brings the spirit of Spitfire flying within the reach of those less priviledged (some would say unlike Mrs Grace?!)

The B Word

PS. yes, I know Mrs Grace lost her husband and she finished his Spitfire and now flies it in his memory. But does that excuse her opinion in the letter?
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 00:11   #2 (permalink)
 
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I had a little sympathy with what she was saying until I read the last sentence. She sounds like an arrogant, self-important woman.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 00:12   #3 (permalink)


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She is absolutely correct. You wouldn't sell a 1990's built KopyKat as a real E-Type Jag, why should a kit plane be treated any differently?
To suggest that something with a 6 litre V8 engine is in any way on a standard with a Merlin or Griffin fitted aircraft is just absurd.
Its a replica. Thats all, and thats what it should be sold as.
As for the name - so what? Its not the same company.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 00:23   #4 (permalink)
 
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As her's has been rebuilt and as with most these days it is nothing but a full sized glorious replica with a data plate on it....
Same person who taxied her Spit straight into a Jet Ranger I believe, some skill there... She has also had it on it's nose before..

As for her referring to the skill of those flying them, The stupid thing is, it is all down to money, some of the warbirds pilots I have seen, I wouldn't let them loose with a pram, but they can afford the expensive toy, or does she think just because she flies a Spit she is a better pilot?


.

Last edited by NutLoose; 16th Jan 2012 at 01:10.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 00:37   #5 (permalink)
 
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Hopefully someone can answer this.

Why when building these replicas did they choose to design an 80% and then a 90% replica instead of just going for the full size to begin with ?


Not that this is the reason but the Spitfire cockpits never looked that big in the first place and we are only getting bigger in size compared to the men and women in the 1940's.

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Old 16th Jan 2012, 00:52   #6 (permalink)


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Pure guesswork, but maybe because all they could use were car engines and it improved the performance. It'll reduce the cost of the airframe as well.
They're flown as Light Aircraft - does scaling down bring them below the weight limit?
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 00:58   #7 (permalink)
 
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500N

The answer is on the website:

Quote:
I received an invitation to lunch with Alex Henshaw at his home and we ended up spending the day together, we were both like kids talking all things Spitfire, it was interesting in that a lot of the same problems Alex and his team had.We have encountered the same problems in production but as Alex said if it was easy every one would be doing it. A truly amazing man, who has followed us with pride and said we have now made the Spitfire immortal and the memory will never fade. He said it was a pleasure to see them in production again. he could fully understand why we only produced 90% scale aircraft in today's world. Engine reliablity and horsepower was the main factor, with purchase cost and hanger space also being an issue. Alex made the comment that for all the problems in manufacturing the Spitfire it has never been surpassed in pure flying for the joy of the pilot . He also made the comment that he had flown many other types of aircraft but nothing comes close to a spitfire to be at one pilot and machine.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 01:05   #8 (permalink)
 
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Milo

The difference is that this is made by Supermarine - it's a bit like saying today's Triumph Motorcycles are not real Triumphs because they are built in a factory in Hinckley (which is reputedly the best in the world) rather than built in Meriden (which by the time the Unions finished with it was the worst in the world). Or the new Mini, or the new VW Beetle, or the new Fiat 500, or the X-Type Jag, or the Landrover Defender, or the new Range Rover, etc...

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Old 16th Jan 2012, 01:13   #9 (permalink)
 
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Spitfires were built by every man and his dog scattered all over the UK and brought together at various factories for assembly, and NOT just Supermarine.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 02:42   #10 (permalink)
 
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Devil Grace Article

She does seem to come over as up her own ar--!

I remember a few years ago we had flown in to Duxford and were sat on the grass as she came walking past the control tower after doing several flights for a corporate day.

I asked her how much would it be for a trip in the Spitfire, would have been for my old man who used to fly them in the second world war. Her reply was I am rather fussy who I take in the Spitfire!

Shame she didnt remember the bucket that was placed many years ago in the hangar at Duxford towards the rebuild fund for the engine
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 05:51   #11 (permalink)
 
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Oh piffle... If any ex-WWII pilots want to complain, then I'll give them a hearing.

Personally I'm glad that there's one company that makes a reasonably close replica, though I know full well I'll never be able to afford it. Nobody in the know will confuse it for the real real deal, so it's not fraud (except for the dummy radiator option). And at least it isn't built out of either plywood or composites.

If they did make a 100% spitfire, what engine would you put in it anyway assuming Merlins are no longer practical?
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 06:54   #12 (permalink)
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I am surprised and disappointed that Carolyn Grace has seen fit to denigrate this project. I respect her and her husband Nick, who put together the Spitfire she flys. It is, of course, in many ways a replica itself although built from one that was real. If you make anything that has to be added is it then not a replica.

I have flown many replicas, including a Camel, Sopwith Pup, an Albatross, a DR1 (Fokker Triplane) and others, all built from scratch but with the SAME skills that Tommy Sopwith and the German designers employed in the first war. These aircraft were, therefore, like the originals and flew like them and some had a bite like them. It took some skill to fly them but I cannot say that my skills were any better, or worse, than those who flew them in wartime. What I do know is that they WERE just like the real thing - they were built like that and to be like that.

Carolyn has a point when she mentions flying a scale model Spitfire is different to a real Mk26, but that does not and should not be a reason to put it down. Indeed, it is that point where she lets herself down because it is not so different as to be worthy of her remark that these models should not be compared to the pilots who flew them and to the Spitfire itself. It is well known that some skills were short in flying her own Spitfire, but she can still claim and be proud that she carries on with Nick's dream.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 07:33   #13 (permalink)
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I visited the Mk26 'factory' when I was staying in Brisbane it was sign-posted Castle Bromwich, this must make it authentic surely!!.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 08:39   #14 (permalink)
 
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She sounds like someone who's position as prominent Spitfire pilot is under threat, not just by the replicas, but by the ever increasing numbers of airworthy Spitfires which are competing for the attention that she obviously revels in.
Her ego is expanded in a shrinking market and is causing her some discomfort, poor lamb.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 10:07   #15 (permalink)
 
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Spitfire

I have to say that the Mk 26 doesn't exactly invoke the same 'sight and sound of freedom' that the original does.

However, thanks to those who gave their lives in pursuit of freedom, we speak English, enjoy freedom of speech and opinion and, more to the point here, can call our whizzer anything we like.

HP
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 10:35   #16 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
it's a bit like saying today's Triumph Motorcycles are not real Triumphs because they are built in a factory in Hinckley (which is reputedly the best in the world) rather than built in Meriden (which by the time the Unions finished with it was the worst in the world).
Oi! I have a 1979 Meriden-built T140D; by then, the factory had got them right, and the late Meriden Bonnies were the best they made. It sounds good, vibrates, oozes character; it's a Spitfire compared to the modern Triumph's PA28!
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 10:36   #17 (permalink)
 
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Quote:
She sounds like someone who's position as prominent Spitfire pilot is under threat, not just by the replicas, but by the ever increasing numbers of airworthy Spitfires which are competing for the attention that she obviously revels in.
Her ego is expanded in a shrinking market and is causing her some discomfort, poor lamb.
Can we refrain from personal abuse here.

The thread is about whether or not an 80% replica minus Griffin or Merlin engine can be compared with 'the real thing'.

The views on both sides are strongly and deeply held and I don't see that anything she said denigrates those who build, own or operate the Mk26.

She is only pointing out the simple truth. The Spit is a different, bigger and more challenging beast.

Look at the recent French 80% replica of a Mosquito and the way that the test flight went with modern engines. The only thing it had in common with the DH Mosquito was the name.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 10:57   #18 (permalink)
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She is only pointing out the simple truth. The Spit is a different, bigger and more challenging beast.
Indeed she is, but is also inferring that the skill of a Spitfire 26 pilot in no way can be compared with her or other people who fly the real thing. How does she know what the level of piloting skills of a Spitfire 26 pilot are ? Does she personally know them all and what their aviation career has been and what they have flown ? And what makes her think she has fantastic and superior skills when you look at some of the incidents she has had.

She had a valid and good point that the aeroplane itself is not the same as a real Spitfire, but when she starts putting down people she doesn't even know, then she needs to remember she's in a very big greenhouse and her track record is in the public domain. Throw rocks and you can break a lot of glass.

I'd love a go in a Spitfire 26 ... and a real one
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 11:19   #19 (permalink)
 
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I've met her and she's lovely - every bit the delightful person she is in the Nick Grace video and 'Going Solo'. I haven't read the LAA piece on the replica so can't comment on the relevance of her letter.
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Old 16th Jan 2012, 11:23   #20 (permalink)
 
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There are two of them at Perth, and I have had the opportunity to get a close look at them. I also have seen them flown, and displayed. Now..

Great workmanship, from a distance they look great, and I am sure the guys that have them have some good fun. Do I think they are worth a 100k investment? No. I would rather have a YAK50. In the air they sound odd, because you see the famous outline, but no sound. That is a disappointment. I also, like any single seat aeroplane, would find it all a bit pointless, unless, you had some real power, and could do something with it. My point of view..

I also understood, and it was a comment from someone else, that they required an inordinate amount of maintence, relative to its mission profile, but that may have been sour grapes, and no doubt someone who owns one could confirm.
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