Building a WW2 plane from scratch, how hard can it be?

Building a WW2 plane from scratch, how hard can it be?

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Discussion

Eric Mc

116,146 posts

235 months

Saturday 7th March 2009
quotequote all
The Stirling was actually a good aeroplane in many ways. It had its flaws - as many aircraft of that period did.
It was a LOT bigger than the Lancaster but its bomb bays were designed around the bombs in use by the RAF at the time the specification was set by the Air Ministry (1936). It was also hampered by the instruction that the wingspan could not exceed 99 feet - in order that it could be accomodated in the largest RAF hangars of the day.
By the time the Halifax and Manchester designs were finalised, the 99 feet restriction had been lifted - but it was too late for the Stirling.

However, when all these bombers first flew and entered service with the RAF, they all had major crises in their operational use. The Stirling could not carry large bombs and it had a low operational ceiling due to the short wingspan.

The Halifax had a massive problem related to its fin and rudder design which caused a number of fatal accidents when the plane was put through evasive manoeuvers. Handley Page were told to either fix the problem or become sub-subcontractor Lancaster builders. They fixed the problem

The Manchester was the worst. The airframe was sound, although even there it took Roy Chadwick and his team a number of goes to give the plane adequate directional stability.
Its main problems were its complicated Rolls Royce Vulture engines. They were just horrendously unreliable and the problems were never really sorted.
Even before the Manchester flew, Chadwick realised that the Vulture problems could ruin the project so he drew up plans for a four engined Merlin powered alternative - which became the Lancaster.
So, in many ways, the Lncaster was almost accidental in that it was a panic redesign to correct the huge shortcomings of the Manchester.
Its big bomb bay was also a matter of luck as the large unobstructed space was required because, in the original spec, the Manchester was supposed to be able to carry aerial torpedoes, which were longer than standard RAF bombs.

Bushmaster

26,821 posts

249 months

Saturday 7th March 2009
quotequote all
Eric Mc said:
A client of mines' mum doped and painted Spifire rudders and ailerons down in Southampton during the war.
My nan made Spitfire ailerons at the Castle Brom factory during the war.

Lefty Guns

15,409 posts

172 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
eccles said:
I'm Helping a chap in work build a modern 2 seater kit aircraft (Vans RV8), this kit comes with just about every bit you need, and most of the rivet holes pilot drilled. It has still taken the best part of 2 years to get it to the being in one piece and painted stage, with just rigging of controls and system functions to be carried out.
Working full time it's possible to cut this down to about 6 months, and that's without any design work, manufacturing of components or testing.
I see from the Vans website they reckon 600-900 hours for an RV8.

4 guys, 45 hours/week each is about 4-6 weeks... I suppose the CAA inspections etc will slow things down?

Eric Mc

116,146 posts

235 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
BruceV8 said:
ZR1cliff said:
Looks are everything in some cases. I remember as a kid only really wanting to build Lancaster bombers, other than their history they looked the part, where as the Stirling bomber was a right ugly duckling and second rate behind the Lanc. I wonder if this is how a lot of people feel about the Stirling ?

Looks are also subjective I've always thought that the Stirling was a good looking plane in a rugged no nonsense kind of way. And maybe there's that British thing of loving the underdog...
The Stirling was an impressive aircraft for its time and certainly better than anything the RAF had ever operated at the time it entered serevice. As I said earlier, it did have its shortcomings - but so did most of its contemporaries. The fact that it was used right through to the end of the war shows that it wasn't the dud that some people might think.

williamp

17,924 posts

243 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Sometimes some photos are all that is needed; remember chris rea built a sharknose 156 as accurate as humalny possible using nothing but a few photographs.

The same could be done with an aircraft. I cant see how a WW2 aircraft would use techniques not found on a 1961 F1 car, and besides, you could take the opportunity to improve the inetranls@

SDo, make a car which looks like a Sterling (or the one I woulc chose: a Wellington), and with the right engines sounds like a wellington, but with modern avionics, reliable fuel pumps modern control surface levers etc etc.

Eric Mc

116,146 posts

235 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
It's not that simple at all. By WW2 aircraft had become quite sophisticated. Building a complicated aeroplane today WITHOUT access to the engineering drawings behind them and, probably more importantly, access to some of the skills and techniques used in their comnstruction is very, very difficult.

I would argue that a 1961 Ferrari is WAY less sophistictaed than a Wellington bomber - and way, way less sophistictaed than a Stirling.

I'm not saying its impossible, but it would be extremely difficult and very costly.

Also, I did mention above that these aeroplanes are nothing if they don't have the original engines fitted - or at least, an engine of similar chacteristics and character to the originals. Big British bombers invariably had large Bristol radials fitted (with the exception of the Lancaster - although even then about 300 Lancaster IIs had the Bristol Hercules fiotted).
Finding and restoring working examples of these types of engines is nigh on impossible.

Lefty Guns

15,409 posts

172 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
I seem to recall that merlins and the Packard equivalent are still widely used in the states for historic racers (P51's and the like)?

Eric Mc

116,146 posts

235 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Merlins are indeed relatively plentiful. That is one of the reasons why there are so many Merlin powered restorations about. Allison V12s are also not too rare.

The problem is with the big Bristols (har har) and even more extreme with the big Napiers you would need for a Typhoon or Tempest restoration.

Shar2

2,100 posts

183 months

Monday 13th July 2009
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Eric Mc said:
Merlins are indeed relatively plentiful. That is one of the reasons why there are so many Merlin powered restorations about. Allison V12s are also not too rare.

The problem is with the big Bristols (har har) and even more extreme with the big Napiers you would need for a Typhoon or Tempest restoration.
The owner of AC Cars,(this is Pistonheads afterall), used to own a Hurricane and two Tempests. Anyone know what happend to them after AC went to the wall. I had heard that the one of the Tempests was being restored to flying condition with other as spares ship. Also, Isn't Kermit Weeks rebuilding a Tempest II?

perdu

4,877 posts

169 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Nice to see this thread surface

I used to like Stirlings

then half way through building my Airfix one my dad wandered by and said

"Och, a Stirling! Did you know it was 22 feet from the top of the wing to the ground? I did, I fell off one, one winter."

He had been an Armourer/Air Gunner in the RAF and was working outside the upper fuselage for whatever reason (never told me why and I was too young to question him) Returned to the wing leading edge after the task was done and promptly slipped off the L.E...

"How I won the war"




Eric Mc

116,146 posts

235 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
perdu said:
Nice to see this thread surface

I used to like Stirlings

then half way through building my Airfix one my dad wandered by and said

"Och, a Stirling! Did you know it was 22 feet from the top of the wing to the ground? I did, I fell off one, one winter."

He had been an Armourer/Air Gunner in the RAF and was working outside the upper fuselage for whatever reason (never told me why and I was too young to question him) Returned to the wing leading edge after the task was done and promptly slipped off the L.E...

"How I won the war"
The AIrfix kit is a bit daunting - but I have an unbuilt one put aside for future "play". And you get a nice tractor and bomb trolley as a bonus.

FourWheelDrift

82,955 posts

254 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Shar2 said:
The owner of AC Cars,(this is Pistonheads afterall), used to own a Hurricane and two Tempests. Anyone know what happend to them after AC went to the wall. I had heard that the one of the Tempests was being restored to flying condition with other as spares ship. Also, Isn't Kermit Weeks rebuilding a Tempest II?
MW763 with restoration with Tempest Two Ltd - http://www.hawkertempest.se/MW763.htm
Kermit Weeks - PPS restoration - http://www.hawkertempest.se/EJ693.htm

Eric Mc

116,146 posts

235 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Very interesting. It looks like Weeks' Napier engined version won't ever fly - for the reason I mentioned above - the chances of restoring a Napier Sabre to airworthy and reliable condition are pretty close to Zero.

The Centaurus engine is less of a problem so it looks like the UK based Teempest might very well fly.

eccles

12,371 posts

192 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
williamp said:
Sometimes some photos are all that is needed; remember chris rea built a sharknose 156 as accurate as humalny possible using nothing but a few photographs.

The same could be done with an aircraft. I cant see how a WW2 aircraft would use techniques not found on a 1961 F1 car, and besides, you could take the opportunity to improve the inetranls@

SDo, make a car which looks like a Sterling (or the one I woulc chose: a Wellington), and with the right engines sounds like a wellington, but with modern avionics, reliable fuel pumps modern control surface levers etc etc.
Not wishing to be insulting or anything, but all your post does is show how little you know about aircraft and their systems and structure.

eccles

12,371 posts

192 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Lefty Guns said:
eccles said:
I'm Helping a chap in work build a modern 2 seater kit aircraft (Vans RV8), this kit comes with just about every bit you need, and most of the rivet holes pilot drilled. It has still taken the best part of 2 years to get it to the being in one piece and painted stage, with just rigging of controls and system functions to be carried out.
Working full time it's possible to cut this down to about 6 months, and that's without any design work, manufacturing of components or testing.
I see from the Vans website they reckon 600-900 hours for an RV8.

4 guys, 45 hours/week each is about 4-6 weeks... I suppose the CAA inspections etc will slow things down?
To be honest, if you have a little foresight there needn't be much in the way of delays from the CAA.
The chap who owns the aircraft knows the system pretty well (this is his fifth homebuilt, first all metal), and when the various inspection stages were due during the build he'd book the inspector, and we'd work to that date. Both of us work on aircraft for a living, so we both know what standard to work to, this eases things somewhat.

When it came to getting the permit to fly, having all the information in a nice bound folder and all correct before being sent off (recorded delivery) to the CAA certainly eases things, and a polite phone call to see if they've got the package seemed to get us an approximate date for return, barring any problems.
I think overall there was probably 4-5 weeks worth of delay during the certifying process, and this was solely down to turn round time at the CAA. I don' think that's too bad at the end of a 2 year build of evenings and weekends.

Lefty Guns

15,409 posts

172 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
eccles said:
Lefty Guns said:
eccles said:
I'm Helping a chap in work build a modern 2 seater kit aircraft (Vans RV8), this kit comes with just about every bit you need, and most of the rivet holes pilot drilled. It has still taken the best part of 2 years to get it to the being in one piece and painted stage, with just rigging of controls and system functions to be carried out.
Working full time it's possible to cut this down to about 6 months, and that's without any design work, manufacturing of components or testing.
I see from the Vans website they reckon 600-900 hours for an RV8.

4 guys, 45 hours/week each is about 4-6 weeks... I suppose the CAA inspections etc will slow things down?
To be honest, if you have a little foresight there needn't be much in the way of delays from the CAA.
The chap who owns the aircraft knows the system pretty well (this is his fifth homebuilt, first all metal), and when the various inspection stages were due during the build he'd book the inspector, and we'd work to that date. Both of us work on aircraft for a living, so we both know what standard to work to, this eases things somewhat.

When it came to getting the permit to fly, having all the information in a nice bound folder and all correct before being sent off (recorded delivery) to the CAA certainly eases things, and a polite phone call to see if they've got the package seemed to get us an approximate date for return, barring any problems.
I think overall there was probably 4-5 weeks worth of delay during the certifying process, and this was solely down to turn round time at the CAA. I don' think that's too bad at the end of a 2 year build of evenings and weekends.
That's interesting, cheers.





By the way, did anyone notice that Eric (of all people) made a tits gag?!

Eric!!!!

yikes

hehe

Eric Mc

116,146 posts

235 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
What me? .... never.

tdm34ds

6,858 posts

180 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Just check this rebuild out, if you think metalwork is difficult this Mossie rebuild
is epic

http://www.warbirdrestoration.co.nz/current.html#k...


williamp

17,924 posts

243 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
eccles said:
williamp said:
Sometimes some photos are all that is needed; remember chris rea built a sharknose 156 as accurate as humalny possible using nothing but a few photographs.

The same could be done with an aircraft. I cant see how a WW2 aircraft would use techniques not found on a 1961 F1 car, and besides, you could take the opportunity to improve the inetranls.

So, make an aircraft which looks like a Sterling (or the one I would choose: a Wellington), and with the right engines sounds like a wellington, but with modern avionics, reliable fuel pumps modern control surface levers etc etc.
Not wishing to be insulting or anything, but all your post does is show how little you know about aircraft and their systems and structure.
Oh absolutely. Its really a Top Gear style "how hard can it be?" type statement, based on my knowledge of cars.

CobolMan

1,336 posts

177 months

Monday 13th July 2009
quotequote all
Eric Mc said:
The AIrfix kit is a bit daunting.
You're the master of the understatement Eric smile I remember building that bu99er when I was a teenager and still have the scars hehe