Daily Inspections Keep Your Spitfire In Tip-Top Shape

What ho, chaps? Look, we know this is a bally nuisance and all, but those desk jockeys at HQ want us all to watch this film about daily insepction of your Spitfire. No Vera and no Greta in this one, more’s the pity, but it is jolly important. We all know that our Spitfires are complicated buckets of bolts, but those kites won’t stay in the air if we don’t maintain them. Yes, the boring stuff, like purging the fuel system of water and refueling outside of the hanger. And, yes, Captain Molesworth, that means putting out that cigar while the tech boys are topping off your tank. Now shut up and watch the film we’ve placed below the break, what?

All right, all right, wake up at the back there. I heard you snoring, Peason. The bally Germans could hear you snoring. I know that wasn’t Errol Flynn, but this stuff is damned essential. You may be pilots, but you all rely on those people you just saw. Your lives depend on the riggers, armorers, instrument repairers, and others. While you are out carousing, these men are taking your plane apart and ensuring the engine is running smoother than the legs of the barmaid at the Dog & Duck. Every time one of you chaps calls Bingo Fuel, you get home because some chap checked your fuel gauge was accurate. Every time one of you glances at the Rate of Climb indicator to judge an intercept, you are relying on the chap who tested and zeroed it while you were snoring in your bunk, sleeping off last nights debauch. So, don’t forget that you are part of a team. You may be full of dauntless spirit  up there, but you won’t get anywhere without those chaps on the ground.

Now, let’s talk about tonight’s mission…

[Thanks for the tip, Stephen Walters]

22 thoughts on “Daily Inspections Keep Your Spitfire In Tip-Top Shape

  1. My grandad was an actual Spitfire mechanic in WW2, repairing and maintaining them during the Battle of Britain and later in the North African campaign against Rommel, before finally getting reposted to Naples, Italy. Amongst the unusual escapades:

    1. Three days without sleep during the height of the Battle of Britain.
    2. Fixing wings and fuel tanks when resources were in short supply using chewing gum.
    3. Helping to drag USAF aircraft back onto the beach in Italy after they got washed out by the tide.
    4. Getting Italian POW to help clear the runways when they were covered in ash from the eruption of Vesuvius in March-April 1944.

    1. My grandfather was in North Africa with the British Army and used to tell me that the best way to avoid being bitten by a snake while asleep was to pour a ring of petrol around your tent. They don’t like the smell, apparently. Foruntately, he also pointed out that this wasn’t required in the Manchester suburb that he lived in when we would camp in his garden.

  2. “Daily Inspections Keep Your Spitfire In Tip-Top Shape”

    Daily Inspections barely keep my little 4-cylinder 2016 Volkswagon Tiguan 2.0 Liter AWD Turbo SUV on the road. IMHO a 40’s era 12-cylinder Supermarine Spitfire fighter is likely much easier and CHEAPER to deal with!

    1. The Merlins in most of the Spitfires required a complete overhaul every 250 hours. It takes about 200 hours to do the overhaul, and I’ve seen cost estimates of $75,000-$300,000 for parts and labor. That’s just the engine. Constant speed prop rebuild is also expensive, although they last longer, and the rest of the plane has significant maintenance cost. Estimates are 8 hours of maintenance per hour of flight time, with $250/hour just for fuel, and a very rough estimate of $2500/hour for total cost (insurance, fuel, oil, and putting away money for the annual inspection and engine rebuild costs.)

      1. Are those modern dollarydoos or WW2 era?

        People forget that car engines are relatively the bottom of the pile, expected to run OK for 100,00 miles with no major intervention – aero engines, racing engines, and other critical or properly high-performance stuff has rebuilds measured in hours and for good reasons.

        There’s a great article about drag racing with some insane figures, the relevant one here is that from firing up at the start to crossing the line and then being torn down and rebuilt (or exploding) a top fuel dragster engine might do a total of 1000 revolutions.

    2. I’ve warned people on this site about water cooled German cars.

      You get to learn the hard way, were ‘lucky to get together with your money in the first place’.

      You get to serve as a warning for others. Don’t do what Drone did.

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