Project Update - April 2016

Despite no electricity or water for several months due to infrastructure repairs at the base, progress has been made.


Is now stripped out except for the cabling and piping systems. Plans are in place to move forward and one could add that we now have a repair strategy! The current thinking is to design and build a jig that will locate frame 5, frame 19 and the longerons. The idea is to procure these parts due to their importance in terms of loading, interface and the extensive damage suffered during the crash. From there the serviceable structural parts will be transferred from the damaged fuselage into the jig. Obviously a lot of though still needs to go into the process, but the basic concept seems sound.

The fuselage is an early semi monocoque structure consisting of a stressed skin, frames, stringers and longerons. The wing's main spar and the engine bearer's attachments come together at frame 5. Frame 5 is a crucially important junction. The main spar attaches to a built-up structure at the bottom of frame 5 with a set of 16 close tolerance bolts. The engine bearer attaches onto 4 fittings, 2 at the top and another 2 at the bottom of frame 5 with tapered bolts. The fittings in turn attach to 4 longerons that run from frame 5 all way back to frame 19 at the empennage. The empennage is detachable and the interface at frame 19 is an important attachment point. The wing's rear spar attaches to frame 10, which is in the cockpit area. The wing is constructed around a single main spar with a continuous D-box ahead of it. The wing has a huge cut-out, inboard, behind the main spar to accommodate the landing gear. The D-box is a crucial part of the wing structure, carrying much of the loading, especially relieving the centre wing load in the areas where wheel wells and other large cut-outs are located. The root rib completes the load path between the D-box and the wing root attachment points at frames 5 and 10. The rear spar acts as a shear member and does not transfer bending load to the fuselage. There is thus no redundancy should the main spar develop problems. The engine bearer is constructed as a truss consisting of tubular members and a strong U-frame.

Frames 5, 10 and 19, the 4 longerons, the engine bearer, the main spar, D-box and the wing root rib form the main structural members of the airframe. Of course, no structural component on the airframe is unimportant. Every part has been designed with a purpose. The main structural members are vital to the structural integrity of the airframe. To rebuild these parts requires exact knowledge of their geometry, materials, special processes and build procedures. The drawing set available to the team is large, but lacks a great deal of information. The drawings do not cover the special processes and procedures required to construct and assemble the various parts and assemblies, nor is the drawing pack complete. Many components, damaged as they are from the crash will have to be revered engineered. That means that the existing component will be measured up and a new drawing generated. The applicable material for the component needs to be identified by chemical analysis, hardness tests and other means. Although most of the airframe is constructed from aluminium, different types and grades of aluminium is used throughout. Much of the airframe is constructed from sheet metal. Blanks are be cut, pressed, formed and rolled to take on the required shape of the final component. A further set of drawings will be required to outline the geometry of the blanks. Processes need to be established for each of the construction steps. Some materials need to undergo heat treatment, while others will be kept in a freezer to preserve their mallable state until needed. Many components will be built up of several parts, all of which need to come together accurately. The components will then find their way into assemblies with tightly controlled interface geometry. To this end, jigs and special tools will be required all along the production line to ensure that the correct geometry is maintained. The jigs and tools need to be designed and built too. All of these activities will be covered by a Quality Management System. Quality assurance starts right at the beginning. Parts recovered from the crashed aircraft needs to be inspected, repaired, reworked and recertified. Parts recovered for reverse engineering need to be controlled. The reverse engineering process needs to be controlled with various quality checks along the way. Even the original drawings need to be controlled. The Spitfire was built in many marks and variants. The drawing pack issued on this project needs to be checked and verified to be applicable to this particular aircraft.

On the technical front, the project team is coming to grips with all the requirements, checking of the drawings, checking bills of materials, establishing relationships with technical specialists locally and abroad, seeking suppliers and evaluating the airframe in its present state. The requirements for the new workshop is being set up. Its planning covers the layout of the workshop, zoning for special functions, storage and control of parts and materials, the type and quality of tools and jigs required, power supply, health, safety and environment and others.


Currently seeking release of the damaged Merlin Engine from SAAF in order to carry out detailed inspection/diagnostics to enable a repair policy to be decided and cost analysis of spare parts and repairs required.

Wings, Engine Frame, Running Gear, Tailplane

Future works have been defined for these assemblies and will proceed given release by the project managers and space in the workshop area.

Project Management and Paperwork

In January 2016 we were advised to halt the stripping process until control systems were in place.

As the Project grew and we continue to negotiate with many of the Aero Industries major players we learn many valuable lessons regarding their policies and requirements if they are to assist us as we progress. With this strategy in mind the project has made considerable effort to entrench internationally accepted 'best practice' project management principles and governance into the management of the project and is guided by the PMBOK 5th Ed.

This provides a gated project lifecycle process which encapsulates the nine knowledge areas of project management and links to quality assurance, the duty of due diligence and importantly an auditable trail in terms of project documentation, project costs and quality control. The project has carefully scoped the project with the development of a WBS (Work Breakdown Structure) and has aligned this to the ATA standard which is internationally accepted. A detailed project charter has been produced to provide a preliminary delineation of roles and responsibilities, an outline of the project objectives, identification of the main stakeholders. The document serves as a reference of authority for the future of the project. A PEP (project execution plan) has also been developed and provides the governing document that establishes the means to execute, monitor, and control the project. The execution plan serves as the critical communication vehicle to ensure that everyone is aware and knowledgeable of project objectives and how they will be accomplished. The plan is the primary agreement between SAAF and the FSAAFM/Spitfire Restoration team. The plan will remain a living document and is to be updated to describe current and future processes and procedures, such as integrating safety into the restoration process. The project is in process of developing a detailed project schedule for the Spitfire project incorporating the WBS codification and is based on an agreed process that defines the major work packages of the project.

We are expecting to push forward with the stripping process shortly as detailed by the Project Managers and Engineers above.

To my friends the technicians/engineers!

I know you all have an eternal desire to have a spanner in your hand and to keep busy this has in fact become a major challenge for me. To meet the challenge we have designed splinter projects in the last few months and will take these into the future.

Air Show Preparation - Completed Rotating Plynth for model Spifire - Completed
Workshop Restoration - In progress Stores Identification - Cleaning, repairing, labelling
New Worshop Planning Proposed skill training sessions.
Procure/Build aircraft slave trolley Dressing the dummy - obtain spitfire pilot clothing
Scrapyard Challenge GAthering/Cataloging imperial spanners, tools and machines.
Asisting the "Friends" with other projects

More ideas are always required as are your skills, advice and assistance. Your networking is also required, shout the words 'Spitfire' at all your gatherings, lets keep the names rolling in!

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