RCU Review: Giant Scale Planes Spitfire MK2 108

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    Contributed by: Mike Buzzeo | Published: June 2003 | Views: 44940 | email icon Email this Article | PDFpdf icon
    Giant Scale Planes
    Spitfire MKII ARF
    Review by Mike Buzzeo (MinnFlyer)


    A British Icon

    In the late 1930's, war was looming on the horizon for the British. In 1938, RAF (Royal Air Force) squadrons began receiving the first of what would arguably become their single most influential fighter of WWII. Never before had a fighter been held in such high regard by its pilots and crews as the Supermarine Spitfire. Indeed the Spitfire is to the Brits what the Mustang is to the Yanks.

    The new plane came off the assembly line slowly at first due to the complexities of building its unique elliptical wing. However, as time passed, techniques were improved, more subcontractors were hired, and soon, mass production of the Spitfire was underway.

    A Spitfire Shows Off its Distinguishing Eliptical Wing

    In June of 1940, the first improved version of the Spitfire rolled off the assembly line. This version, dubbed the "Mk II", sported the new Rolls Royce "Merlin" engine as well as several other new improvements, like self-sealing fuel tanks, a bulletproof windshield, extra armor protection for the pilot, and hard points under the wings to give it the capability of carrying bombs and extra fuel.

    It is with great pride that Giant Scale Planes brings you an outstanding rendition of the Supermarine Spitfire Mk II, the hero of the Battle of Britain, in an Almost-Ready-to-Fly version.

    Hits Misses
    • Fiberglass Fuselage and Cowl
    • Solortex Covering
    • Excellent Flying Characteristics
    • Beautiful Camo Paint Job
    • Prepainted Canopy
    • ABS Servo & Wheel Well Covers
    • 15 Hour Construction Time
    • Sub-Standard Control Horns And Clevises (Easily Replaced)
    • Manual Instructions Confusing (See Text)
    • Rudder Control Horn Screws Too Short (See Text)

    Kit Features Required Items
    • Solartex Covered Wings & Tail, Fiberglass Fuselage
    • Beautiful Flat Camouflage Paint Job
    • Fuel Tank, Tubing, Clunk
    • Composite Engine Mounts
    • All Pushrods and Linkages
    • Pre-painted Fiberglass Cowl
    • Decals
    • Steerable Tail Wheel
    • Wing Bolts, Control Horns, Clevises.
    • Other Assorted Hardware
    • 6 Channel Radio with 7 Servos
    • 2-Stroke .90 - 1.08 cu. in., or 4-Stroke .91 - 1.20 cu. in.
    • Fuel Tubing
    • CA (or other) Hinges
    • Thin and Medium CA Glue, 30-Min. Epoxy, Loctite
    • Assorted Drill Bits
    • Metric Allen Wrenches
    • Soldering Iron and Solder
    • Dremel Tool (Very Handy!)
    • Standard Building Tools

    A Toledo Surprise

    LEFT: The Box

    RIGHT: Items Nicely Packed

    After spending a long day of browsing the Toledo show, my wife and I met up with Marc, Nathan, and Erick, along with a few of the other Moderators from RCU, for a well deserved rest at the hotel lounge. We were discussing some upcoming reviews when Nathan asked if I had time to do a review for a Spitfire ARF. I wasn't doing anything at the time, so I said, "Sure".

    As it turned out, he had the model upstairs in his hotel room, so we went up to take a look at it. The next thing I knew, I was driving home from Toledo with a new project in the back of the Blazer!

    Once we had returned home (and had recuperated from the 12 hr. drive), I brought the box down to my office and started to give everything a good looking over.

    Inside the shipping crate was a nicely colored box emblazoned with a picture of the Spitfire and all of its pertinent information. Upon opening the box, I can see that everything is well packed. Each major piece is individually wrapped in foam sheeting and sealed in plastic bags, and cardboard dividers separate all of the major components. There is no sign of damage anywhere, so it's time to unwrap!

    I am immediately impressed with the covering. It is really a gorgeous finish! The Solortex fabric looks and feels great, and the paint job is superb. But it's the Fuselage that really caught my eye. It is all fiberglass with laser-cut plywood bracing, and it has the same excellent finish as the wings as well as some beautifully detailed rivets and panel lines molded right into it.

    As usual, the next thing I did was to pull out the manual, close the box, and spend the next few days reading.

    Time To Get Started!

    The first thing I did was to remove everything from the box for a good inspection. All seemed to be in good shape, and complete, so let's get started.


    The Spitfire-90 comes with a 12-page instruction manual, and a single sheet addendum. While the manual contains no pictures, it does have many, very clearly drawn illustrations. These are a major help, as the written instructions are minimal (See pic), and while they can be understood, it is clear that an English-speaking individual did not translate them. Also, all of the dimensions are given in something called "Millimeters". Now I have to think back to my High School metric conversion tables... Lemme see, 100mm = 3 pints... and there are 37 pints to the mile... carry the 2... That means that a 150mm rod should weigh 53 pounds. Right? Oh well, at least my cigarettes are 100mm long, that should help.

    The Addendum is more of a disclaimer really, noting that some modelers may prefer to have certain areas stronger than other modelers, so it is up to you to inspect all areas and "beef them up" if you so desire.

    It also warns against using the CA hinges that are supplied. They claim that these are only there to hold the pieces together during shipping. That being the case, it makes me wonder why they included extras for the Rudder in a separate parts bag. Nevertheless, I took their word for it and purchased some from my local hobby shop.

    Note* As usual, I will be building the Spitfire outside of my regular shop to keep an accurate account of what supplies or tools are needed. And as always, I will try to adhere as much to the parts, plans, and instructions as possible to determine the completeness of the model.


    Wing Assembly

    The first item on the list is to attach the Ailerons and Flaps with CA hinges, (I used Sig Easy Hinges due to the Addendums request not to use the supplied hinges) but before I could start, a relief had to be cut in the wood to allow the Flap Torque Rods to move freely.

    Cutting Relief For Flap Torque Rods

    The next item in the wing assembly is to install the Aileron Servos. There is no recommendation as to Servo sizes. I am using Futaba S-9001's for the control surfaces, but I see no reason why a good standard ball bearing servo wouldn't work.

    Once the covering was removed, I ran the extensions through the wing, and secured the Servos in place. A hole then had to be cut near the center for the extension to exit the wing.

    LEFT: Installing Aileron Servo

    RIGHT: Cutting Servo Extention Exit


    The next item in the wing assembly is to install the Aileron Servo Covers. These ABS covers were a nice touch. I must admit that I was wishing I had my belt sander with me, but cutting them out with a hobby knife wasn't too difficult.

    Aileron Linkage:

    With the Servo covers in place, it's time to install the control horns and linkages. Giant Scale Planes includes EZ type connectors for each control. Unlike some people, I like using this type of connector. The one thing that concerned me however, was that these connectors don't have the usual plastic "snap-on" back plates, but have a screw-on backing instead, and I noticed the back plate can easily unscrew with the Servo movement, so I will be sure to Loctite all of them before flying. The supplied control horns and clevises look a little flimsey, and personally, I would liked to have seen something a little less obvious than these white horns against the nice Olive Drab finish, but for the sake of this review, I will use them.

    LEFT: Installing Aileron Horn

    RIGHT: Aileron Hook-Up

    Supplied Main Gear

    Landing gear:

    You have two options for the main gear, Fixed, or Retractable. If you go with the Fixed gear, Giant Scale Planes supplies a hardwood block that would be installed as if it were a retract unit, and a very sturdy set of landing gear. They also supply a nice set of pre-painted plywood wheel doors that can be mounted to the gear for added realism.

    I opted to go with retracts (I used a set of Great Planes 60-size retracts which later proved to be too weak, even for a paved runway. I would suggest using something stronger). If you've ever used retracts, you know that this requires a little more work (Call me a glutton for punishment). First, the covering is removed from the pre-cut wheel wells, Then ABS wheel well inserts are trimmed just like the Aileron Servo covers, and I must say that I was impressed with the fit. The control wires are bent as per the instructions and attached to the units using the same EZ-type connectors as before. One sad note here, is that with retracts, you can't use the nice wheel doors because they won't fit into the wheel wells.

    Retract Push Rods
    Installing Retract Unit

    Next, I removed the covering from the two locations where the Gear and Flap Servos would be installed. The sheeting was pre-cut, so covering removal was all that was needed.

    The wings were then epoxied together with 30-Minute Epoxy using the supplied 3/4" aluminum wing tube and a 6mm alignment pin.

    Removing Covering
    Wing Alignment Pin

    Then the Servo was installed, and connected to the Push Rods.

    Retract Servo
    Installation Complete

    Once the Retracts were installed and working freely, I glued in the wheel well covers with medium CA as per the instructions.

    Working Gear
    Attaching Wheel Well Cover


    Flap Push Rod

    Next, two of the supplied Push Rods are cut, bent, and soldered together to form the Flap Push Rod.

    Attaching The Wing:

    This is one area where I had to make a judgment call. I was very skeptical about the instructions for drilling the forward wing pins. Their method was to drill two holes in the LE, 40mm (3 Bushels) from center, and then do the same in the forward fuselage former. I saw no way of getting these two sets of holes to line up, so I improvised. I marked the hole locations on the bottom of the firewall, and by just "eyeballing" the alignment, I drilled through the firewall, the fuse former, and into the wing. It worked like a charm. Next, the wing pins were epoxied into place, and the wing was reinstalled and aligned for drilling the rear bolt holes.

    A pre-covered plywood doubler is then epoxied to the rear of the wing, and the bolt holes are drilled according to the dimensions noted in the illustrations. Next, the fuse holes are enlarged to fit the supplied Blind Nuts, and finally, the wing was bolted in place.

    Drilling Wing Allignment Pin Holes

    Drilling Bolt Holes

    Fuselage Assembly

    Completed Empanage

    The first step in the Fuselage assembly is to epoxy the stab in place and hinge the Elevators and Rudder. After the covering is removed from the gluing area on the stab, I secured it with 30-minute epoxy, and aligned it with the wing. Once the epoxy had set, the Elevators were hinged in place.

    The Fin is an integral part of the fuse, so all that needs doing here is to cut the slots and hinge the Rudder to it.

    Control Horns: It was time to install the control horns. There were three remaining horns, with 3 sets of screws. As per the instructions, 4 of the screws (for the elevators) were 18mm long, and 2 screws (for the Rudder) were 25mm. However, even with the extra length of the Rudder screws, they were still not long enough to go completely through to the back plate. But here is the interesting part: The Aileron control horn screws are 30mm long, and the Rudder screws are plenty long enough for them. So, I replaced two of the Aileron control horn screws with the 25mm screws, and used the 30mm screws on the Rudder (I'm glad I hadn't trimmed them yet!).

    Screws Too Short!

    Engine Installation: Installing the engine was straight forward enough. The supplied mounts are aligned to the spacer block, which is then drilled. Those holes are then transferred to the firewall. The spacer block didn't appear to have any fuel proofing, so I gave it a coat of epoxy, before final installation.

    Drilling Spacer
    Drilling Firewall

    Next, the engine was placed so the Thrust Washer was 650mm (23 acres) from the firewall, and the location of the mounting holes were marked with a long drill bit. Then I removed the engine and drilled the holes through the mounts. The engine was then bolted in place using the supplied mounting bolts and lock nuts.
    Marking Hole Locations
    Drilling Engine Mount Holes

    Control Hook-Up: Now we're getting close! I drilled through the firewall to install the Throttle Push Rod. The pushrod entered the Fuse cavity right near the Throttle Servo, so the connection was a breeze.

    Drilling for Throttle Push Rod

    Prepairing Push Rods

    Push Rods:The Push Rods are assembled in the typical "Wire/Wooden Dowel" method. Holes are drilled through the rods, a channel is cut for the wire to lie in, and then after the wire(s) is bent, inserted in the hole, and epoxied in place, a piece of heat-shrink tubing is placed over it to hold it all together.

    The Rudder Push Rod required one wire rod on each end of the dowel, while the Push Rod for the Elevator needed two threaded rods on one end.

    Push Rods Complete
    Using Push Rod As Guide

    Now the Push Rods had to be used to measure their exit points. I aligned the Elevator Push Rod to the control horns and marked the location on the fuselage.

    Once marked, I outlined the area to be removed for the Push Rod exit. There needed to be two on one side, and one on the other. A Dremel tool made short work of this task.

    Marked Exit Hole
    Installed Push Rods

    Once the holes were cut, the Push Rods could be installed and connected to the Servos.


    Cowl Installation: The cowl was marked, and after a few tries, it was cut to accept the engine and muffler. I am using an after-market muffler on the .91AC, so I was able to get it almost completely inside the cowl. Note: There is no mention made as to cutting a vent hole in the bottom of the cowl, so I took it upon myself to provide one. Once a good fit was achieved, the cowl was aligned, and attached to the Fuse with four sheet metal screws.

    Cowl Vent plotted
    Cowl Ready For Drilling

    Canopy Installation: While the Canopy was prepainted, it still needed to be trimmed. The lines were easy to follow, and once cut to shape, it was installed by drilling holes in the fuse, and attaching with 6 self-tapping screws.

    Trimming Canopy
    Securing Canopy In Place

    Tank: After the Tank was assembled and installed, I ran into one minor problem. As I was attaching the fuel and vent lines from the engine, I noticed that the standard fuel line that I was using seemed to fit loosely on the Tank's aluminum tubing. I had planned on securing ALL of the fuel line connections with Copper Wire anyway, but even after tightening the wire around the tubing, it took only slight tension to slide it off. Considering the fact that I was using a YS engine, which creates a strong tank pressure, I decided to replace the aluminum tubing that was supplied, with 1/8" copper tubing. The smaller diameter fuel line supplied for the Clunk had no trouble going over the 1/8" tubing, and I felt a whole lot safer.

    Tank In Place

    Decals: Last, but not least, the Spitfire got it's finishing touches. The Decals were cut from their sheet and applied, which really brought out the beauty in this WWII Classic!.

    Flight Testing and Evaluation

    Talk about great timing, the day before the Spitfire was ready for it's maiden flight, my dad arrived for the summer from his winter home in Florida. My dad was a Crew Chief on P-51's with the 357th fighter group (Chuck Yeager's outfit) based in Leiston, England (The infamous "Yoxford Boys"). When he first arrived in Great Britain, he spent 6 weeks training on Spitfires to learn the intricacies of the "Merlin" engine, which he would be encountering in the P-51. My dad is now 82 years old, a real warbird enthusiast, and one of the best fliers I know, so it was a thrill for me to give him the honor of taking the Spitfire on it's maiden voyage.

    The first day at the field however, while making a last minute adjustment to the rudder, the clevis snapped. So much to the disapointment of the other fliers there, we had to scrap the flight that night.

    On our next attempt, I couldn't get the YS 91AC to run properly. This was very unusual, since I had never had a lick of problems with this engine in the past. Once home again, a careful inspection reveled that when the clunk was originally machined, a metal burr had obstructed the feedhole. A small drill managed to clear the obstruction, and we were ready for the third attempt.

    We hit a less than perfect evening, 68 degrees, and a fairly stiff crosswind from the South, but certainly not bad enough to cancel the flight. It was also overcast for a while which made for a great photo opportunity. The spitfire looked as if it sat on a typical English airfield.


    The YS-.91 cranked right over, and before long, the Spitfire sat majestically at the end of the runway. After a short takeoff run, she leaped into the air. What a site! It needed 2 clicks of right aileron, and a bit of down elevator to get her flying "Hands Off", but in no time, the spitfire was tracking straight and true. The roll rate was faster than what I would consider scale, but not too touchy, as were all of the controls.

    The Spitfire's slow speed characteristics were very good. It didn't seem to want to fall off to either side, and once the flaps were lowered it really slowed down nicely. And it is QUICK! The Y.S.91 provided more than enough power, in fact, I wouldn't hesitate to use any .90 size 4-stroke in it.

    Over all impressions of the first flight were quite good, but I did add an additional 2 oz. of lead to the nose (all equipment was already forward), and she flew even nicer on the next flight. And it looked FABULOUS in the air! Still, I should say here that this is not a beginners airplane, nor should it be considered as a second plane. Many "stand-off-scale" warbirds are designed to be a little more forgiving than their real-life counterparts, but this little baby is a "Warbird" in every aspect of the word.

    Giant Scale Planes "Spitfire MKII" Videos
    Windows Media Player Format

    Click here to view Takeoff video Click here to view Retract video Click here to view a Fly By
    Take Off
    Size: 642k
    Size: 232k
    Fly by
    Size: 356k
    Click here to view a Show Pass Click here to view a Victory Roll Click here to view a Landing
    Show Pass
    Size: 294k
    Victory Roll
    Size: 302k
    Size: 667k

    Giant Scale Planes has a very nice airplane here. It is smooth and responsive, and looks fabulous in the air, or on the ground.

    A few changes I would make, would be to replace all of the clevises, and possibly the control horns too. I would only use the retract option if you are flying from a paved surface, and be sure to go with a good strong set, after all, this is an 11 lb. airplane.

    Over all, while this is not an airplane for inexperienced fliers, (or builders) it is an excellent flier, and the construction is outstanding too. If you are up to the challenge of a Warbird, the Giant Scale Planes Spitfire MKII surely fits the bill!


    Kit Quality

    (1=Not so good,5 = Excellent)

    Packaging Quality:

    1 2 3 4 5

    Construction Quality: 1 2 3 4 5
    Hardware Quality: 1 2 3 4 5
    Quality of Manual: 1 2 3 4 5
    Ease of Assembly: 1 2 3 4 5
    Completeness of Kit: 1 2 3 4 5
    Covering Quality 1 2 3 4 5
    Flight Characteristics
    Take-Off: 1 2 3 4 5
    Landing: 1 2 3 4 5
    Basic Aerobatics (loops, rolls, etc.): 1 2 3 4 5
    Advanced Aerobatics (snap roll, spins,etc.): 1 2 3 4 5
    Stall Characteristics: 1 2 3 4 5
    Scale Appearance: 1 2 3 4 5

    Manufacturer & Distributor Information

    Giant Scale Planes
    201 S. 3rd St.

    Coopersburg, Pa. 18036 USA
    Phone: (610) 282-4811
    Website: www.giantscaleplanes.com
    email: info@giantscaleplanes.com

    Y.S. Engines
    1295-C Industrial Ct.
    Gardnerville, NV 89410
    Phone: 775-265-7523 (Information) 775-782-4562 (Parts & Service)
    Fax: 775-265-7522 (Information) 775-783-8518 (Parts & Service)
    Website: www.ysperformance.com

    Futaba Corporation of America
    Distributed Exclusively in the U.S.A., Canada and Mexico by:
    Great Planes Model Distributors
    P.O. Box 9021; Champaign, IL 61826-9021
    Website: www.futaba-rc.com

    Graupner Propellers
    Website: www.hobby-lobby.com/grprop.htm

    SR Batteries, Inc..
    Box 287
    Bellport, New York 11713-0287
    Phone: 631-286-0079
    Website: www.srbatteries.com

    email: office@srbatteries.com

    Comments on RCU Review: Giant Scale Planes Spitfire MK2 108

    There are no comments

    The comments, observations and conclusions made in this review are solely with respect to the particular item the editor reviewed and may not apply generally to similar products by the manufacturer. We cannot be responsible for any manufacturer defects in workmanship or other deficiencies in products like the one featured in the review.

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