When I first saw the FT Spitfire, my first thought was that I wanted one. I got one for Father’s Day: so far so good. But my second thought is that a Spitfire is nice, but it’s even better if it has a Messerschmitt to shoot down. When I looked at the plans, I realized (as the FT guys also obviously saw judging by their recent Planes planes), that the Spitfire could be modified relatively easily to make other warbirds.
So before I built my Spitfire, I set about modifying it to make both the Spit and a Messerschmitt Bf109 at the same time. I selected the Bf109E, as a pretty recognizable version.
As it turned out, every single piece of the Spit had to be changed slightly, except for the wing spar, which is identical. But that makes it sound hard - really it is easy because I was careful not to change any parts where two pieces join, so the build is identical to the Spit, and none of the joints are different, so the plane fits together well and has similar (excellent) flight characteristics. Basically, I tried to concentrate on changing major lines to make it distinctively a “Messerschmitt”, and I think the result looks good and flies great.
I visited the RAF Museum in London, which I highly recommend. I have gone back and updated all my old posts with pictures of the real planes. I put a few extras here since they had two nice Bf109s, one European and one desert.
Below I outlined the process and I have posted scale pictures of all the parts, so you can download them, print them, and make your own Bf109E. I left the 1 inch grid lines from my cutting board on all the pictures so you can check to make sure they have printed to scale before you cut out the pieces. If you want to build one, I suggest you print these plans out and also the FT Spitfire plans. Then use the Spitfire plans to double check the Messerschmitt parts at all joints. I also took pictures of the main shapes and lines to show why it looks so Messerschmitty. Here goes:
Starting with the wing, I traced the FT Spit wing on a sheet of foam, and then ‘straightened’ the lines. I used a Bf109E schematic from Wikipedia to get the proportions right (wing tip to base and length to width) and the sharp arc on the wingtip. The first 2 inches at the base of the wing was left UNCHANGED so it still fits into the fuselage perfectly. The trailing edge spacer is just a straight piece.
For the fuselage I narrowed the tail by about 1cm from the bottom. For the front, I traced the FT Spit, then modified the shape to get the look of a Messerschmitt (longer and snoutier). Again, I did not change any of the parts that join other parts (like the wing hole and former holes). I added one former at the very front, which becomes important later.
Once the front profile was satisfactory, I cut one side out, then used the cut out piece to trace the other side, to keep the two sides identical.
The tail was designed similarly - tranced the FT Spit and kept all parts that join with other parts the same. The vertical and horizontal stabilizers were modified to match the Messerschmitt looks, with proportions taken from the plans again. The bottom of the rudder was reduced in size to match the slightly thinner tail of the fuselage. The Messerschmitt rudder follows the line of the fuselage.
The forward and rear formers are all different. The front four formers are progressively smaller (the Spit has 3, I added the front one to mark where the turtle deck will fold). The two formers behind the cockpit are important, as the first one gives the “square” look to the cockpit that is so distinctive. The assembly is the same as the FT Spitfire. (I actually put carbon fiber sheets on the top and bottom where the skewers go because that is a weak spot)
Here is the Bf109 beside the Spit, for comparison. The changes make the plane look completely different.
The back turtle deck is installed the same way as the Spit. For the front turtle deck, line up the notches with the front-most former and attach the back portion (which is sloped downwards). When that is glued, sharply bend the front portion down - basically pull it tight across the front edge of the fuselage to make the change in angle as sharp as possible, then attach the front part with tape. This gives a distinctive snout and sharp taper at the very front of the fuselage.
I used tape for the distinctive yellow parts, and taped it before painting so it really pops. This the plane on test flight day. It flew great, better than my wildest hopes, in fact. I discus threw it at 3/4 throttle and it just took off in a straight line and flew level (see video below). I did basic moves, and it was fine, but I did need to reduce the aileron throws a lot and give it some down trim. Rolls nicely, great for loops. It flies much like the Spit, but maybe a bit smoother even. The power system is pretty much as recommended for the Spit - NTM 1350 Kv and 8X4 prop. I will put a big spinner on it when I get one.
To really make it look like a Bf109, I finished taping the yellow tips, and painted it. I lightly varnished with oil-based minwax, then sprayed with $2 craft acrylic. You can pick your colour scheme, I went traditional to make it Messerschmitty as possible.
Lastly, a sheet of Hobby King Luftwaffe decals and a light coat of water-based minwax for belly landings. And a canopy. The canopy is deceptively easy. I put plans for it with the other parts. It is a single piece of clam-shell packaging (that hard clear plastic they insist on packaging stuff in) that is bent into shape and finished with black duct tape strips, all hot glued into place. You can also see the plane beside the painted Spit, for comparison (below).
Below is a short movie - to prove it actually flies. Most of these were on the first flight day before it was painted because the light was way better, but obviously it flies the same. I also put a series of pictures below showing the overall shape, focusing on the lines that give it the distinctive look, and I also posted prinatble files with all the parts to scale, which should allow you to make your own the same way you make a FT Spitfire.
Closeups of important parts
OUTLINE are simple PDFs. Other files are photos of parts. All should be to scale.
In the OUTLINE files, all cuts that are identical to the FT Spitfire are shown as dotted lines, all cuts that are different are shown as solid lines. I did not change any joints, so to make sure your plane fits together well, I suggest you print the FT Spitfire instructions as well as these, and then just use my plans to trace out the different parts on the spitfire plans.