Make | Spitfire
Make your own model spitfire and learn about spitfires.
Part 1 | Introduction ⭱
Make a spitfire ⭱
This page sets out instructions for making a Spitfire out of cardboard.
If you are feeling more confident, there are some suggestions about how to fly it and you can learn all about wings.
Probably the most important tip is to bend the front of the wings downwards to create a curved wing. which is critical for good lift.
Part 2 | Make a Spitfire ⭱
These are the instructions about how to construct your spitfire.
Equipment | What you will need ⭱
To make it, you will need the following:-
Have more than one piece of card available, so that you can experiment, and to let you practice.
It will also help to print out this PDF to cut out and trace round: Spitfire Outline
OOPS : You will also need a stapler (missing from the picture).
Step 1 | Fold the card in half ⭱
Firstly, we fold the card in half along its shorter side.
The reason is because we are going to make the aeroplane in two halves, but cut it out only once!
Step 2 | OPTIONAL | Draw some grid lines on one side ⭱
This next step is optional.
If you are going to draw the plane freehand, use your pencil and ruler to draw out a simple grid on one side.
This is to help guide you when drawing the outline of the plane.
This is not necessary, but helps if you are not good at drawing by hand.
In my example below, I don’t actually need to do this.
Step 3 | Draw out the following outline on the grid. ⭱
Now for the tricky bit.
This is the design you are trying to replicate on your card.
You can either:-
(a) do it by eye, and just draw free hand; OR
(b) print out the PDF document below on A4 paper, cut the shapes out and trace round them.
I cut the outlines out.
I then traced round them on to one side of my folded card.
Step 4 | Cut out the parts ⭱
Now is the time to cut out your aeroplane.
Remember to keep the paper folded over, so that you are cutting out two halves at the same time.
You could staple the corners of the folded cardboard to keep both sides together.
This is what they look like after.
Step 5 | Decorate ⭱
Next you can decorate each side of the aeroplane (before we fold anything).
You can flip one side so that your tracing markings are not visible.
I am no artist, so I am sure you can do a lot better!
I also drew a black edge around the card so that the plane showed up really well.
Be as creative as you like.
Step 6 | Join the plane halves and bend wings open ⭱
Now it is time to assemble your plane.
Put the two sides together and staple the fusilages together.
I am using staples (quick and easy), and leaving the space under the nose and wings unstapled for the moment (you will see why in Section 4).
Do not staple the wings, as you need to bend them open as shown:-
Step 7 | Next fit your tail wing ⭱
Your tail wing is the little wing at the back.
A. Cut a line in the tail
First cut a line to the notch shown on the tail fin for your tail wing to fit into.
See the notch in the image : stop at the notch!
B. Cut a line in the wing
Next cut a line in the little wing about half way as shown.
C. Push them together
And you now have a Spitfire!
Another Design ⭱
If you are inspired, try making some other designs.
Here is one called a delta wing.
The pattern is here:-
Did you know that ailerons and elevators are both at the back of the plane on a delta wing – they are the same thing - they are called ELEVONS.
You could also experiment with other outlines such as a Cesna.
See if you can make up an outline to cut out from this design:-
Part 3 | Fly your Spitfire ⭱
Your Spitfire will fly at little bit, but only with a bit more adjustment.
If you throw it just as it is made, it will not work.
A plane stays in the air due to three things:-
The control surfaces are noted below:
Step 1 | OPTIONAL | Add a throwing handle ⭱
You can either throw the plane by holding it just behind the wings, or you can fit a throwing handle.
Cut out a rectangular piece from your spare card.
Slot it between the back of the wings.
Staple it in.
Step 2 | Add some weight ⭱
You need to add some weight to the nose of your plane to fly it.
This gives the plane momentum.
I suggest either a 5 or 1 pence piece in the "nose" of the plane as shown.
Fixed it with sticky tape so it does not fall out.
Step 3 | Curve your wings ⭱
A wing works better when it has a curve.
A quick way is to cut two notches on either end of the front of the wing, and the bend the front part downwards to create the curve.
Experiment with bending the front part down more, to create a more curved front to your wing : it should work even better!
Step 4 | Cut Ailerons ⭱
Next you need to cut some ailerons at the ends of your wings.
These help to roll the plane (causing it to bank left or right).
If your plane tips left, adjust your ailerons to make it roll right a little.
Note that to make your plane roll, one aileron is folded down and one is folded up.
To do this, fold the wings back together (so you cut in the same place on both sides), and cut two notches on the back of the wing as shown.
Then bend them as shown (up or down as you need) – experiment.
Step 5 | Bend Elevators ⭱
The elevators are the flaps at the back of your tail wing.
The cause the plane to go up or down.
These are used to make the plane:
(a) tilt up (climb) – bend them up;
(b) tilt down (descend) – bend them down
I drew some lines on the tail fine and then bent the flaps as shown – experiment with up and down.
Step 6 | OPTIONAL | Bend your rudder ⭱
For advanced users you could try bending the rudder in the tail fin.
I.e. bend a bit of the tail fin to act as the rudder.
This causes the plane to turn (not roll) left or right.
If your plane is twisting in the air, try ajdusting the rudder.
Step 7 | Throw your plane! ⭱
Now throw your plane.
Two important things:-
A. Angle of Attack
Try to throw it at 5 degrees or less. Any more and it will stall.
Try throwing your plane as hard as you can.
Because your plane is made of cardboard (heavy) and wings have drag (hitting the air slows them down), the more forward thrust it needs.
You should throw it really hard if you have the space and it is safe to do so.
Part 4 | Advanced Flying ⭱
Curve Wings ⭱
Try bending the the front of the wings downwards more.
This creates more of a curve and therefore more lift!
This is probably the most important thing to do!
Trim your plane ⭱
Try experimenting with your control surfaces to see what difference it makes to getting a steady level flight.
This is known as "trimming" your plane.
Trimming your plane is about adjusting your control surfaces to try to keep the plane level and straight.
Bend Wings ⭱
Make sure the wings are bent up a little as shown:-
Tail Wing ⭱
Watch out for the tail wing – make sure it is level before throwing.
Here is a bad example:-
Try making and fitting a larger tail-wing. It may fly even better.
Part 5 | Badges ⭱
Air Activities ⭱
Stage 1.1 Make an aircraft out of paper and see how well it flies. You could use a paper dart or a helicopter and drop it from a height.
Stage 1.2 Find out about one kind of aircraft and tell others in your section about it. It could be a commercial aircraft like Concorde or Airbus or a military aircraft like a Spitfire, Lynx or Chinook.
Stage 2.1 Make and fly a model aeroplane, three different types of paper glider, a hot air balloon or a kite.