View Full Version : How much to build a Spitfire from scratch?

03-20-2004, 12:23 PM
How much do you reckon it would cost to get an engineering company to build a replica spitfire. I guess all the technical schematics are freely available and it would simply be a matter of fabricating the parts and assembling them.

A million quid? or more?

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03-20-2004, 12:23 PM
How much do you reckon it would cost to get an engineering company to build a replica spitfire. I guess all the technical schematics are freely available and it would simply be a matter of fabricating the parts and assembling them.

A million quid? or more?

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03-20-2004, 12:51 PM
A one-off aircraft?

You'd have to pay through the nose just to get them to undertake a one-off project, I should think.

In any case, you'd need spares, so the one-off aircraft suddenly becomes a limited production run, that very few people would actually even have a chance to purchase. The company providing the capital for the venture (the bank you got the loan from) would like to see a return of it's money, and the company making the plane would like a gaurantee against not even finishing the project, I should think. Because if the project wasn't completed, they would have worked for nothing, and they don't like that much. So the per-unit price might logically be very high for the finished aircraft in the limited production run, because they couldn't rely on selling htem all right away.

According to my calculator, if I were to undertake this project on my current salary, and assuming a 5% raise every year, let's see...

That would be 59814 years until I had the capital to see the project through. Can you wait a bit longer for your Spit, actually? We have issues on the shop floor today http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/blink.gif Wrong size rivets on order...

Wave bub-bub-bub-bye to the boss, it's your profit, it's his loss~ Clash

03-20-2004, 12:52 PM
Spitfire Mk IX would cost you over 21,500 pounds, at least from these guys...


*I see now that you meant a functional replica, in which case I have no idea.

03-20-2004, 01:01 PM
It could make a viable business though. I ‚£million historically accurate (partly restored perhaps) WWII single seater fighter plane charged out at ‚£5,000 per 1 hour flight would pay for itself in 200 hundred flights...

You could have it all bought and paid for in 6 months.

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03-20-2004, 01:26 PM
I'm not sure, but use these planes as an comarision. In Seattle, WA they are building 5 ME 262's at a price of 2 million dollars each. A company in Germany is selling FW 190 kits for 535,000 Euros. Here are thir URL's:

Wir greifen an!
Erich 'Bubi' Hartmann

Any landing you can walk away from is a good one!

03-20-2004, 01:39 PM

First of all, it is impossible to build a Spitfire from scratch. You have to have a Merlin engine to start. It would be prohibitively expensive to build an engine.

I know a group of Canadians who are restoring a Spit IX in Comox British Columbia. They were given the Merlin, and have sections of the original aircraft. Despite that, it will likely cost them 1 million Canadian, ($800,000 U.S.) to complete it.

And they have 20 volunteers working for free, including accredited Aircraft mechanics, and airframe technicians.

By the way, I know another fellow, also in B.C., who owns a fully functioning P-40E. It was a surplus aircraft which flew, and saw combat in the Aleutian islands with a Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron in WWII.

The plane was sold off by the RCAF in 1946, along with a spare Allison engine, and lots of parts.

The price?

$50.00 Canadian.

Recently, the owner was offered $2,000,000 U.S. for it.

03-20-2004, 02:22 PM
you are working on the presumtion that a rebuilt Spitfire is a war weary original. i dont want to burts anyones bubbles but an aircraft is like a car you replace rusty corroded parts etc, so if your car is 100 years old in its life it has had the engine and chassis replaced the odd wing the interior maybe a chassis, well is it still an original........ well is your car after the odd wing, sparkplugs, engine and tyres? well the same is with Aircraft but to a more critical standard...... I have seen a lot and believe me i mean a lot of restored fighters, one ex Gate Guardian Spitfire that was restored the original parts were one..... the data plate and two....... ONE leading edge.... the rest was new. If you change parts on your car then if one bit is original in histoy you can argue it is a rebuilt original so if you have the data plate what is the difference? fine line i agree but that is how it is..........

03-20-2004, 02:57 PM
Well, that is a good analogy as far as it goes, Tony.

But you realise that in these aircraft, replacement of parts was a standard practice even when new. Overhauls were performed, feild maintenance and modification was performed, and cannibalisation from wrecked aircraft was performed.

I am active in the old car hobby and I know what you are talking about very well. Fraud concerning collector cars does happen. That is why it is technically illegal to swap the VIN tag from one body shell to another, regardless of intent. It is done, and when it is done just to save a car, morally I have no issue with it. the problem lies in misrepresenting a standard vehicle as a collector's edition of that same vehicle. I own a very good example: a 1970 Buick Skylark Custom convertible that I have 'cloned' into a GS455 convertible. If I were unscrupulous enough, I could locate a destroyed GS455 convertible's VIN tag, and put it on my body. Instant collector's car. Problem is, it's fraud. My VIN is original and decodes as a Skylark Custom. But let's say that on the assembly line, back in November of '69, the chassis in front of mine had been damaged and was supposed to be this GS455 convertible. They easily could have just used the next chassis in line as the GS455, and put the correct components on it, and made up the new VIN as a GS455 instead of a Skylark Custom. The factory is licensed to make the tags what they want as long as it complies to Law, and the Law says they can do this or something similar.

But with wartime aircraft, the amount of use and replacement is so much greater than a car of the same era. You could take that argument and logically say that many of these aircraft were "non-original" even before the war ended. I really can't see a clear line between a gate gaurdian aircraft being restored, an 'original' aircraft recovery from some unknown relocation that is restored, and a long military service life aircraft, in terms of total original from-the-factory parts. Many of the parts were never coded for an individual aircraft (like a wing), unlike a collector car, which often does have part numbers stamped on almost all parts denoting individual VIN code.

I agree with you in general, but just how long did a War-Service Spitfire Mk. V retain all it's original equipment? 6 months? A year? Until it's first maintenance? I can't imagine it being longer than a few weeks, especially if it saw combat.

Wave bub-bub-bub-bye to the boss, it's your profit, it's his loss~ Clash

03-20-2004, 03:04 PM
Chuck as i said there are a lot of variables in the aviation industry that will never equate over to the automobile industry as such, if a wing skin or spar is damaged, its not like you can orger one off the shelf, u make it up yourself to the original drawings, companies have the expertise and approvals to make any part reqiured, its all down to metal specs heat treatments etc, to be perfectly honest five me a wrecked Cessna 152 some of the drawings and the correct metals and i could hand build you a new one, its what i do for a living http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif they are now realising this with the Nimrod maritime aircraft, which is based on the comet, the new wings have been designed by computer and are spot on, the old airframes being hand built when coming to mate the wing can be inches out and have been proved to be so............ Having spent many years in the industry i do not baulk at the idea of having to hand manufacture a replacement if i can legally do this, i have often thoguht of running a spitfire cockpit area up as a hobby it wouldn't be that difficult http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

03-20-2004, 03:27 PM
I wasn't really disagreeing with you, I was just pointing out that with an auto, it is relatively easy in the old car hobby to define "original condition" and what it means.

Due to a military aircraft's use and life-cycle, "original" condition would be hard to ascertain even a few years after manufacture.
That's all I'm saying. I appreciate your skill in aircraft building. I don't make aircraft, but I have made many parts for US Navy aircraft. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif I made some 2/3rds scale parts for Lockheed once (inlet duct leading edge), and then they claimed that they made them later on. Oh well, it only took three tries to get right.

Wave bub-bub-bub-bye to the boss, it's your profit, it's his loss~ Clash

03-20-2004, 03:39 PM
Dont know about the spitfire but how about a mustang instead

Thunder Mustang (http://www.thundermustang.com/)

Ride It Like Ya Stole It

03-20-2004, 04:16 PM
I wonder if these people would be able to quote you.
I remember reading in a newspaper about a company who made reproduction Spits about ten? years ago and I think they were selling for about ‚£1000,000. then.

03-20-2004, 04:35 PM
hey chuck i want having a pop either, i was just trying to get accross a lot of parts get manufacured locally and to this extent the whole thing can be, its not difficult, the main prob with a spit is the spar as it is a tapered square tube with a tapered square tube inside it and one in that etc etc

03-20-2004, 04:44 PM
Quoting Taylortony "in its life it has had the engine and chassis replaced the odd wing the interior maybe a chassis, well is it still an original"

Good point!
I have an old axe that is just like that!
150 years old and still as good as new.
The handle has been replaced 3x, the head only 2x and still you'd swear it looks as if it was made yesterday!! http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/53.gif

Burma Banshees! 10th AF 88th, 89th & 90th FG
Dad was a Crew Chief in the 88th.

03-20-2004, 04:44 PM
So you could have a couple of rivets out of an original spit... build the rest from schematics and call it an original, restored aircraft... kinda

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03-20-2004, 04:57 PM
nope because to get a rivet out you destroy it by drilling http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_smile.gif, basically yes, it is the data plate that is worth the money as they use that to give it its history, u take a gate guardian, you replace the wing due to corrosion, then a spar, a rib or 10, a frame, another skin, engine needs replacing, overhauling etc, oh all instruments need renewing, wiring is new, gear needs overhauling, replace the wheels, tyres ,all the controls, the bearings, the fabric, the fin, repair replace the systems...... sooner or later you have got rid of 99% of it on the way and what you end up with is a new plane with the old plate on it with the odd original bit , but who can say they were not new in the 1950 60 70 80's ..............

03-20-2004, 05:56 PM
um, if you have the money, I'd imagine:

a few millions

03-20-2004, 08:32 PM
Regarding the y2*K Spitfire in BC, I'm curious as to what kind of a rudder it originally had: Broad-chord (pointy) or standard? I wonder if the RAF/RCAF replaced shot up standard rudders with the broad chord ones during the latter part of WWII.

BTW, I remember visiting the warplane heritage museum in Hamilton a few years back, where the tour guide noted that all the bolts in a particular restoration had to be specially manufactured as they were no loger being produced. And then he quoted the cost....