Give me a data plate and I'll build you an airplane.
December 7, 2014 7:29 AM   Subscribe

The Supermarine Spitfire is probably the most iconic of all fighter planes. Watch the re-creation of a crashed Spit left on a French beach after the battle of Dunkirk in 1940 in Guy Martin Builds a Spitfire. [1 hr 12 min YouTube]
posted by pjern (24 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
For a quick introduction to Guy Martin, see this trailer for the UK documentary TT: Closer To The Edge, which follows the 2010 edition of the iconic Isle Of Man motorcyle race.

I've seen the movie on Youtube, but want to see it on DVD / BluRay so bad.
posted by intermod at 7:50 AM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


He's great. Essentially Fred Dibnah reincarnated as Wolverine.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 9:49 AM on December 7, 2014 [5 favorites]


Narrator's voice was so familiar in a slightly overly forceful way, it was driving me crazy, finally figured it out. It's Iain Glen, aka Jorah Mormont. Stayed for the credits to confirm.
posted by nathancaswell at 10:26 AM on December 7, 2014


And if that's not enough Spitfire for you, Public Service Broadcasting's Spitfire is a lovely piece of music.
posted by Katemonkey at 10:41 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]


Beatrice Shilling, who developed the R.A.E restrictor (colloquially known as Miss Shilling's Orifice) to solve a problem with the Spitfire's carburettor, was certainly a fascinating person.
posted by 1367 at 11:10 AM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


I replayed the low level pass at 1:08:22 more than a few times just to listen to that engine...
posted by jim in austin at 11:14 AM on December 7, 2014


Most beautiful fighter ever.

I was on an isolated Scottish beach looking for the local dolphin pod, when out of nowhere a solitary Spitfire (practicing for the local Tattoo the next day) broke into a screaming dive that pulled out about 10 feet above the sea. I then watched him, alone, for about an hour making that lovely sound. I was transfixed.

I love the nuts who've tried to engineer and build by hand all the bits for a cockpit, to run PC flight sims through. Click through the links of the cockpit parts on the left menu, all hand built to original specs.

spitfire home cockpit

spit sim
posted by C.A.S. at 11:45 AM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


Excellent, another opportunity to post my father with his Spitfire (unless it's a Hurricane, of course...)
posted by alasdair at 1:56 PM on December 7, 2014 [4 favorites]


That is not a Hurricane with your dad, as all those rivets show the stressed skin monocoque construction of the Spitfire, as opposed to the traditional doped fabric over frame with metal wings of the Hurricane.

Those rivets are made of magnesium, whose useful life span before corrosion is very short - but the expected lifespan of the Spitfire was even shorter, in the year plus range. This is why the wrecked Spits just fell apart and disintegrated and restoration cases were/are pretty rare. 37 flying ones today.

Brad Pitt bought one this year.
posted by C.A.S. at 2:08 PM on December 7, 2014


I always liked the starter system based on shotgun technology.
posted by w0mbat at 2:18 PM on December 7, 2014


I remember a time when I was young enough to deduce that if there was a Supermarine Spitfire, there must also be a Submarine Spitfire, and was half convinced that there was a World War 2 aircraft that was also capable of operating below water. I chose to half believe this in wonder, rather than acknowledge a) It was way beyond 1940s technology and b) had it existed, I'd have known about it already. But James Bond had his Lotus Esprit that worked as a submarine, so why not the more heroic World War 2 pilots?
posted by ambrosen at 3:47 PM on December 7, 2014 [2 favorites]


I found it amazing that the bolts holding the wings on are milled to such a tight tolerance that the heat from Martin's hands was enough to cause a bolt not to fit.

Thoroughly enjoyable video.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 4:29 PM on December 7, 2014


Last time i saw Guy Martin he was laying in a hospital bed (see intermod's post above). glad to see he's his same old self.
nice find, thanks!
posted by OHenryPacey at 5:48 PM on December 7, 2014


It's a very interesting doco and all, and I intend to watch it all, but I do wonder these days just when the poms are going to get over World War Two. It kinda grates a bit these days. Finest hour, two days from invasion, all be eating bratwurst what ho. The Germans seem to be more healthily adjusted to their history.
posted by wilful at 6:05 PM on December 7, 2014


Too bad about the dramatic music overpowering the end flight, that engine sounds remarkable.

Hopefully they can keep it airworthy for awhile. The engines are pretty hard to keep going.
posted by anthill at 6:54 PM on December 7, 2014


Great doc. Loved it. Only downer sentiment I have is that it is NOT the same aircraft. It is a replica. Granted, it was built from original plans. but that does not magically make it the same aircraft. Still, quite wonderful that someone with enormous sums of cash was willing to bankroll the effort so the world has an additional example of a Mk I. And extra kudos to the folks who built it for including the unique rear view mirror. Talk about serious attention to detail.

I also loved the thrashing of the BMW.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:18 PM on December 7, 2014


"The Germans seem to be more healthily adjusted to their history."

Think about that one for a minute.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure that pride in the Spitfire is not about the war itself, as much as it is pride in the industrial design achievement of that plane, and the traditions and institutions and the individual vision (in Roger Mitchell) that produced such a machine.

Of course there's a bit of "our finest hour" in there, but - fair to say understandable?
posted by C.A.S. at 2:23 AM on December 8, 2014


A lot of patriotic pride there, and why not?
posted by lungtaworld at 2:42 AM on December 8, 2014


"Think about that one for a minute. " What are you trying to say? Hello, Nazism, holocaust. Yes, the German people know where that belongs, in the past. Poms still seem to think WW2 was in the recent past, and you can't trust a Jerry, can you? And England was two days from invasion! (though that beats Blair's 45 minutes I guess). Mythology. It's all a bit sad, a bit demeaning, like they haven't grown up. Fawlty Towers (in the 70s) was funny when it pricked that bubble, it's now more than twice the distance from the event.

Fuck, BMW own Rolls Royce don't they?

Which is not to say the spitfire wasn't a gorgeous warplane.
posted by wilful at 3:49 AM on December 8, 2014


What I'm trying to say, is that Germans have had no choice but to adjust healthily to their history, given their 20th century. In fact, they have had an impressive engagement with it as something that just can't be tossed into the "history bin" and left behind, but grappled with, and engaged with.

Truthfully, Britain has more to adjust to reconciling its colonial history than WWII. I believe that Brits can feel that they were up against it with justification, whether the invasion threat is exaggerated or not. But its a very different story requiring a different response.

Also, most Brits I know here are not nearly as anti-German as their father's generation. This itself is a mythology. In fact, here I detect lots of admiration for German society at the moment.

As for the war, it is not necessarily unhealthy to have the sort of pride in those ears I see in the Brits - which is about social cohesion, "we were all in it together", and the "plucky" self-image, and the "inventive quirky but clever boffin will devise something" self-image. That is positive, and not a "Two World Wars and One World Cup" negative take on it which might have prevailed in the past.

My experience living here in the UK is that WWII is not recent past glory wallowing, its receding quickly as it is for everyone. Some romance about the Spitfire seems justified.
posted by C.A.S. at 4:25 AM on December 8, 2014


"...its receding quickly as it is for everyone."

It's a fact, all witnesses from this generation will soon be lost in history. You can say these waves of nostalgia are literally the Swan Song for the Greatest Generation. And the Germans are not above it.
posted by xtian at 5:09 AM on December 8, 2014


that engine sounds remarkable

I was in Boulder, Colorado, during and after 9/11. All air traffic was still grounded. I was out walking the dog, and I heard this snarling roar grow louder and louder in the sky, and looked up just in time to see a Spitfire roar overhead, probably a couple of hundred feet up. Amazing sound, and a flash of those distinctive wings. And then it was gone.
posted by carter at 5:55 AM on December 8, 2014 [1 favorite]


Only downer sentiment I have is that it is NOT the same aircraft. It is a replica. Granted, it was built from original plans. but that does not magically make it the same aircraft.

If I understand the doc right, they used the original engine.

Astonishing you could rebuild an engine that was buried in a French beach for 40+ years.
posted by Sauce Trough at 11:00 AM on December 8, 2014


Sauce Trough: "If I understand the doc right, they used the original engine.

Astonishing you could rebuild an engine that was buried in a French beach for 40+ years.
"

Oh, OK, I guess I missed that part about rebuilding the original engine. In that case, I will withdraw my complaint. And, yes, I fully agree that is an astonishing feat.

I hope they make a new B-29 next.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 7:00 PM on December 8, 2014


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