Historian has to Sell Full Sized Spitfire Replica he Built in his Garden
David Price, a military historian, built a full-size Spitfire replica starting from nothing but sheer enthusiasm. He even demolished his potting shed just to squeeze in the wings. And we all know it, if a man destroys his potting shed, he means business.
The entire project – a fine example of English eccentricity – took four and a half years to complete!
- David Price, a military historian, built a full-size replica of the Mark IX Spitfire PV144.
- Price has put his Spitfire up for auction on eBay for a reserve price of £18,600.
- According to the historian, the replica cost around £10,000 to build.
However, Price’s passion project is now up for sale. The military historian, now 59, put his Spitfire up for auction on eBay. With the reserve price of £18,600, he expects bidding to rise beyond that. As it should!
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Price’s wife, Trish, looks forward to getting a new summer home from the auction proceeds. Trish, 58, said, “It’s like having a teenager about the place. ‘You love them, but there comes a moment when you need them to leave home. [Just like that] It’s time for David’s Spitfire to fly the nest.”
Time to Leave the Nest!
Price is keeping a significant interest in where his replica goes however. Museums and private collectors from Britain, Belgium, and Thailand have been in touch. However, the military historian turned down one businessman from the Thai island of Phuket who wished to place the plane atop his hotel.
“It’s made of plywood. It would have steamed to death.” Price explained.
Price’s plane is a replica of the Mark IX Spitfire PV144. The very plane that was flown by the hero of the Battle of Britain, Squadron Leader James Hayter DFC.
While Price has only put a price of £18,600, other similar full-size replicas moulded by specialist manufacturers cost as much as £50,000.
Nevertheless, Price admits he only had to spend £10,000 on his model, though Trish suspects it may have cost more. He had to rebuild the undercarriage after strong winds damaged it in 2022.
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“The plane decided to make a first flight on its own. So I’ve spent the last year doing repairs.” laughs Price.
After repairs, the plane is in perfect condition again and ready to be sold off. Price said: “I never intended to keep it in my garden – it took over our space and my life. Trish is very patient with my endeavors, but it’s clear it has to go.”
Price is a former manager at a construction company. He began the project to keep his engineering skills sharp when he became a military writer in 2018.
The writer debuted his book, The Crew, in January 2020. The bestseller book talks about the men of the Lancaster Bomber. His latest work, telling the story of his back garden Spitfire, will be published next year.
Engineering a Home-made Spitfire
Some parts of the replica are genuine, such as the black cockpit dials from Air Ministry packaging stamped 1944. The wheels are cast-offs from a Spitfire still in service, and the Perspex hatch is authentic.
However, other bits were foraged by David from his local DIY store, his garage, and even their kitchen. The electrical transformer at the back of the cockpit is a Heinz Beans tin, and the joystick is of wood wrapped with electrical wire – it costs £7.50. In contrast, a genuine vintage one would be £5,000.
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Interestingly, Price created the aerial and carburettor on a 3D printer!
The replica itself is breath-taking, becoming a landmark at their house in a Cumbrian village near Carlisle. “It will be strange when it goes,’ David says, ‘but we are ready to have our garden – and our privacy – back.”
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So will he ever embark on anything as bonkers as building a plane in his garden again? ‘I’m older, less bold,’ he says, ‘but never say never.’
Mark IX Spitfire PV144
The plane is a British single-seat fighter aircraft. It was used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War Two. Many variants of the Spitfire were built, from the Mk1 to the Rolls-Royce Griffon-engined Mk24, using a number of wing configurations and guns.
It was the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. The Spitfire remains popular among enthusiasts; around 70 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation museums worldwide.