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Building a Spitfire model plane with my son

STLs and instructions included

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Supermarine Spitfire model plane
These provided diy files can be used for:
- laser cutting wood
- plotter cutting cardboard
- 3D printing
- CNC milling

  • Print or laser cut all of the parts
  • Watch the video assembly below: 
  • Some of the parts as the cockpit and the nose of the airplane are being optimized for spiral vase printing.
  • Check the files section for the STLs. Also visit the thingiverse page for full build details, printing instructions and more:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3534350

I also added another similar model of a Hawker Hurricane aircraft for those who are interested:

https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3590876

Somebody asked me this question and I’m posting it here since I think is good information other people might be interested in.

DM: They were beautiful planes, weren't they? I kind of miss the balsa and paper days, but I like the idea of printing the parts.

Question: why heat weld the parts rather than gluing them?

MT: Of course one could glue the parts, especially if they choose to laser cut some wooden or cardboard sheets. I choose to weld them for the simple reason of having a fast build I could share with my son and record in a short video. I created these parts being inspired by an older balsa wood plane design from the '80s. I realized there are not so many of these models being uploaded on Thingiverse nor any other sites. People have plotters for cutting cardboard and laser cutting cnc machines nowadays and they could easily involve in creative weekend activities with their kids like I did with my son, but the models are nowhere to be found.  I checked the ebay and online markets to see if I could find some old school balsa wood models for sale and they are either too expensive, preassembled or inexistent. You rather find lego kits or dismantled drones, but is not the same thing. If you check the hobby stores you are most likely to find balsa wood plane kits, but most of the parts are semi-assembled. Like the wing is made out of 2 or 3 parts one has to glue together, and the fuselage is made of 5-6 U-shaped segments. They simplified the build to make it faster. Maybe the kids nowadays don't have the patience to spend 2 or 3 days to build it and they would rather have it finished in one afternoon. But on the other hand, my kid would probably never understand the shape of a wing rib and why it needs to be like that if the wing comes preassembled in the package.

x-zip-compressed - 2.20 MB - 04/03/2019 at 01:10

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Spitfire balsa wood model_A3_guideline_print copy.png

Print this layout guideline on A3

Portable Network Graphics (PNG) - 150.33 kB - 04/02/2019 at 05:46

Preview
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Standard Tesselated Geometry - 185.63 kB - 04/02/2019 at 05:02

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Standard Tesselated Geometry - 44.22 kB - 04/02/2019 at 05:02

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Standard Tesselated Geometry - 165.51 kB - 04/02/2019 at 05:02

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View all 45 files

View all 2 project logs

  • 1
    Printing the propeller
    • 0.1mm layer height
    • 6 top and bottom layers
    • support material
    • 2 rafters
    • no skirt
    • print as it is and do not flip over. It should be with the nose down and with the hole up
    • sand, prime, sand and paint for smoother surfaces. See the pictures and the video for example.
  • 2
    Printing the nose
    • spiral vase
    • 0.1mm layer height
    • 6 to 10 bottom layers
    • print as it is and do not flip (it should be small flat base down).
  • 3
    Printing the cockpit

    The spiral vase optimized version:

    • 0.1mm layer height
    • the spiral vase model has two mirrored cockpits
    • trim one of them after printing
    • use a marker to color the window trims after printing and cutting the excess material

    The solid version:

    • 0.1mm layer height
    • 5 top and bottom layers

View all 6 instructions

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Discussions

Marius Taciuc wrote 05/26/2019 at 08:14 point

Somebody asked me the following question on youtube so I’m posting it and the answer here for anyone interested. 
JW: Does it fly?
TM: Good question. It is a little bit heavy for flying with the rubber band propulsion, but it should definitely fly with an electric motor. It is symmetrical and the roll balance is already perfect. The current weight of this rubber band model skeleton is about 98 grams. So if somebody chooses to print all of the parts at 200% scale, they would end up having an 840mm wingspan model frame weighing about 400g. With the heatshrink film, the RX receiver, battery, ESC, 3x 9g servos and the motor it should rise up to slightly below 1Kg. If they choose a 1000kV 2026 brushless motor of about 500g of thrust with a 9047 propeller, this configuration should be more than enough to make it fly really good and perform well. If I will have some time I would definitely give it a try. If I will modify this model to fit all of the electronics inside, I will definitely post the files so anyone interested should subscribe to my channel or follow me on Thingiverse. This plastic skeleton should be more resistant to crashes than the classical balsa wood frame. And it has the advantage of being able to be welded instantly with the soldering iron and have it fixed and ready to fly in seconds. This is what I'm flying right now and I can tell you that I'm kind of getting tired of patching and gluing it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hcwf_bLUbgk

  Are you sure? yes | no

wayzata14 wrote 04/11/2019 at 19:23 point

Did you buy the kit, or did you 3D print the parts yourself?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Marius Taciuc wrote 04/18/2019 at 00:01 point

I started with drawing them myself and then I printed them using my RepRap Kossel 200 3D printer that shows up better in the background of this video:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWbAtGAMdpE

I probably should have incorporated a short video section with printing some of the plane components into the main timelapse presentation. But when I shot this video with me and my son assembling the plane I just wanted to keep it as simple as possible and I just skipped the scene. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

Dan Maloney wrote 04/02/2019 at 17:22 point

They were beautiful planes, weren't they? I kind of miss the balsa and paper days, but I like the idea of printing the parts. 

Question: why heat weld the parts rather than gluing them?

  Are you sure? yes | no

Marius Taciuc wrote 04/02/2019 at 23:01 point

Of course one could glue the parts, especially if they choose to laser cut some wooden or cardboard sheets. I choose to weld them for the simple reason of having a fast build I could share with my son. I created these parts being inspired by an older balsa wood plane design from the '80s. I realized there are not so many of these models being uploaded on Thingiverse nor any other sites. People have plotters for cutting cardboard and laser cutting cnc machines nowadays and they could easily involve in creative weekend activities with their kids like I did with my son, but the models are nowhere to be found.  I checked the ebay and online markets to see if I could find some old school balsa wood models for sale and they are either too expensive, preassembled or inexistent. You rather find lego kits or dismantled drones, but is not the same thing. If you check the hobby stores you are most likely to find balsa wood plane kits, but most of the parts are semi assembled. Like the wing is made out of 2 or 3 parts one has to glue together, and the fuselage is made of 5-6 U-shaped segments. They simplified the build to make it faster. Maybe the kids nowadays don't have the patience to spend 2 or 3 days to build it and they would rather have it finished in one afternoon. But on the other hand, my kid would probably never understand the shape of a wing rib and why it needs to be like that if the wing comes preassembled in the package. 

  Are you sure? yes | no

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