Design of the Week: Supermarine Spitfire

 A ghostly 3D printed Spitfire flies in the sky [Source: Flite Test]
A ghostly 3D printed Spitfire flies in the sky [Source: Flite Test]

This week’s selection is the incredibly beautiful 3D printed Supermarine Spitfire MKIX RC aircraft by Flite Test.

Flite Test is an enthusiast site for RC aircraft, and these folks don’t fool around. The vehicles they fly are almost large enough to ride on, it seems. Once in a while they take on a project to produce a new RC aircraft and fly it around. Last year they decided to make a smaller version of the Supermarine Spitfire MKIX, the famous aircraft from the 1940 Battle of Britain.

 A 3D printed Supermarine Spitfire MKIX on the ground [Source: Flite Test]
A 3D printed Supermarine Spitfire MKIX on the ground [Source: Flite Test]

Flite Test obtained the detailed 3D model from site 3D LabPrint, where you can find downloadable 3D models for multiple famous aircraft reproduced in RC form. Currently the site lists around twenty different aircraft, some of which you may recognize:

  • MiG-15

  • P47 N-15 Thunderbolt

  • Me-109

  • P51-D Mustang

  • P-38 Lightning

  • F4U Corsair

And of course, the Supermarine Spitfire MKIX. All of these 3D models are priced between US$20 and US$60 (the Spitfire is US$60), and include virtually everything you’d need to successfully build them:

  • Universal STL files

  • Prepared basic Gcodes for your 3D printer

  • Simplify3D setting files

  • Cura and MC alternative setting files

  • Scale markings PDF

  • PDF/Video userguide for further information

You’ll also require a number of non-3D printable items, not the least of which are the motor and electronics, as well as wiring, batteries, radio, and other hardware. This is the video from 3D LabPrint showing printing and assembly of the Spitfire:

The folks at Flite Test took on this project and built one, but with a difference: they used clear filament material to print the Spitfire, giving it an incredibly beautiful appearance.

 This RC Spitfire was 3D printed with clear material [Source: Flite Test]
This RC Spitfire was 3D printed with clear material [Source: Flite Test]

Here is their video of the ghostly flight test:

Judging from their comments, it seems that the desirable flight performance characteristics of the original Spitfire were successfully replicated on the RC version.

 A speedy 3D printed Spitfire in flight [Source: Flite Test]
A speedy 3D printed Spitfire in flight [Source: Flite Test]

3D printing and RC aircraft are a natural fit: both attract technical people, and when the inevitable crash occurs, you simply 3D print replacement parts and you’re off on another flight.

Via Flite Test

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