Overall Length Spitfire Mk1 spec does this include tail light ?

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13 years 10 months

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Hi, Wikipedia has overall length Spitfire Mk1 as 29ft 11inches. as does another site I looked at before this one. Does this measurement include the tail light or is it just to the end of the fabric/metal ? In fact is there an agreed method worldwide ? I ask as having scaled up someones accurate looking spitfire Mk1 drawing he had drawn up from scratch including the tail light in my calcs, his 1/72 scale bar was not the length he had drawn and stated length of. scaling instead the bar I then had a spitfire of the right length but to end of fabric/metal not inc tail light . DBenz
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Profile picture for user John Aeroclub

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13 years 3 months

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Wikipedia only quotes what source the original writer used for his information You have to be very careful with most aircraft dimensions as often the first quoted and then regurgitated to infinitude are those which were published in Flight, Aeroplane or Jane's A.W.A. and I have discovered that quite a number are inaccurate. Many of these came from the manufacturers press handouts. For instance, the DH Hornet Mk.1 press release, three view drawings, show the overall tail up length as 37' 0", to which many model drawings have be made and this dimension appears in many erudite publications such as J.A.W.A, Aircraft of the Fighting Powers and various Putnam's. If one studies photos of the prototype Hornet, it will be noticed that there is no tail light fitted. However a later DH drawing of the prototype, gives the length as 37' 8". The AP drawing for a production Mk.1 shows 37' 10" and this has a tail light fitted. It's my theory that the first Press release three view drawing for the F.1 had a figure 1 missing from the 37' ()0" before the 0. The tail flutter problems later resulted in a longer fuselage tail cone and the F.3 in service dimension was 38' 4" However many books still quote the OA length as 37' 0" for the F.3 The most accurate written dimensions can be found in the Service Air Publications and these were often measured at Martlesham Heath, so a good clue as to the state of build of the airframe is to find official photos which were taken at the time. When it comes to the Spitfire, in many mainstream, much used, publications, many of the early Mk. Merlin versions, from Mk.1 to Mk.V, are shown as being 29' 11" in length, despite the fact that some have different airscrews /spinners fitted, be it either Watts, DH or especially the Rotol with it's longer pointed spinner. K5054 had a tail light as did the early Mk.1 Spitfires. As to measuring from a 1:72 scale drawing (especially if it was drawn in that scale)and scale bar you are wasting your time because you are already into paper /copier shrinkage's and line thicknesses. If you scale a Spitfire Mk.Vc fitted with a Rotol prop to 29'11" length then you will have an under scale fuselage. One of the most detailed and most plagiarized Spitfire drawings has a too short rear fuselage which I suspect is why many of the Japanese produced Spitfire plastic kits are wrong and misshapen. As a quick answer I would say that the Mk.1 dimension will include the tail light. Another example of an oft published wrong overall length is the Meteor NF. 14 which is usually described in many books as "the longest Night fighter" or "even longer" at 51' 4" length. It wasn't! It was in fact no longer than it's predecessor the Mk.12 at 49' 11". You have just stepped into a virtual mine field and one in which I have been tip toeing through for over 30 years. John
Profile picture for user Robert Whitton

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14 years 9 months

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I do not have a tail light to hand ( I need one!) but from memory the clear portion that is aft of the rudder edge is about 1 1/2inches long. I see however that some static replicas have a different fitting that may vary in length. The one in photo 4 looks more like a Hurricane tail light and the one in 5 looks totally incorrect including the fairing. As John Aeroclub says, many published drawings have inaccuracies, particularly Aircraft of the Fighting Powers.
Profile picture for user QldSpitty

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13 years 5 months

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Ive heard of 1" differences of length on real Spitfires due to build tolerances during the war.Happens when you hand build planes.
Profile picture for user Robert Whitton

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14 years 9 months

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Just a quick update. The clear portion of the tail light projecting out is 2 1/2 inches from the rudder. ie 0.0347 inches in 1/72 scale. (0.8 mm) So if like some museum aircraft you don't have a fitting on the rudder your aircraft is 2 1/2 inches short
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Profile picture for user John Aeroclub

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Robert: Thank you for that dimension. I think that the tail drawing you used in photo 3 is the G.A.Cox drawing which has the rear fuselage errors. Of interest the Hornet being a largely wooden airframe had a plus or minus 1" in it's overall length dimension. John
Profile picture for user Robert Whitton

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14 years 9 months

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On Concorde was 5" to 12" longer at Mach 2! I remember putting my hand between the engineer's panel and the bulkhead in flight but not on the ground. I don't think the heat would affect a Spitfires length. Would Far East Hornets be longer in the tropics?