The Photos Reveal the Truth

Before I start a new model, I collect its photos — as many as I can find everywhere: in the books, magazines, on the Internet. Some of these photos are high-quality, detailed photos of restored airplanes. One of them is this this high-resolution photo from the web page of Chino Planes of Fame Air Museum (Figure 2 1):

Figure 2 1 A semi-orthographic photo of restored SBD-5 (from The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino)
Figure 2-1 A semi-orthographic photo of restored SBD-5 (from The Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino)

This is a special photo: it was made from a long distance using “telescope” lens, which minimized the perspective barrel distortion. The airplane on this picture lowered its right wing, so its bottom parts are slightly shifted downward, but except this area it is a perfect reference!

I placed this photo in Inkscape (a free, Open Source image editor), and set it horizontally (along the canopy frames). Then I mirrored it, for the comparison with the left side view (Figure 2 2):

Figure 2 2 Preparation of the reference photo
Figure 2-2 Preparation of the reference photo

In Dauntless there are two long parallel lines that were perpendicular to the fuselage centerline: the trailing edge of the wing center section, and elevator leading edge. On this photo they are also parallel (more or less). This is the proof that we can neglect the perspective (barrel) distortion.

Now let’s compare the BuAer drawing (see previous post) with the reference photo (Figure 2 3):

Figure 2 3 Comparison of the BuAer drawing and the reference photo
Figure 2-3 Comparison of the BuAer drawing and the reference photo

In the previous post I mentioned that this BuAer side view is too short. To make a fair comparison, I marked on this drawing the proper fuselage length (as on the BuAer top view). As you can see, the drawing matches the reference photo quite well!

It fits the photo even better when you correct the tail contour (so it matches the fuselage length in the BuAer top view):

Figure 2 4 Comparison with corrected BuAer drawing
Figure 2-4 Comparison with corrected BuAer drawing

It seems that the BuAer drawing from 1944 matches the contour of the real aircraft quite well. In fact, it is much better than the contours of the detailed KAGERO drawings from 2007 (see previous post), which most probably are based on the drawings made by previous authors (Figure 2-5):

Figure 2-5 Comparison with drawing from KAGERO monograph
Figure 2-5 Comparison with drawing from KAGERO monograph

I think that these KAGERO plans “accumulated” many decades of various errors. Do not be surprised: before the 1990 it was practically impossible to make such a “photo verification” like this one. Even today authors are used to redrawing earlier plans. They seldom compare their work with the real photos in the manner shown above.

Concluding: there is no good reference among the existing Dauntless drawings: the BuAer lacks details, while the KAGERO plans contain too many deviations. The plans from other authors have similar errors (I will not elaborate about it here).

It seems that I have to crate my own drawings!

In the next post I will refer the progress of this work (I hope that I will show you the corrected side view).

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3 thoughts on “The Photos Reveal the Truth

  1. This is very interesting investigation but also time consuming ( with my low level skills in Gimp and Inkscape).
    It seems that this photo will be the base for all drawings adjustment.
    Looking forward to next post.

    Like

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