Shaping the Gun Troughs

The gun troughs in the aircraft usually are tricky elements. Their edges depends on the shape of two curved surfaces: the fuselage around the recess and the tubular inner surface. When you make mistake in any of these two shapes — you have to remodel the whole thing.

In the SBD there are two symmetric recesses in the upper part of the NACA cowling, in the front of its 0.5″ guns. Figure 44‑1 shows the left one:

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Figure 44-1 The gun troughs in the NACA cowling (SBD-3)

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Shaping the NACA Cowling Panels

In this post I will shape panels of the Dauntless NACA cowling. Working on the scale plans a couple months ago I came to the conclusion that the basic shape of this cowling was the same in all the SBD versions (see Figure 4.6 in this post). You can find the differences in their ‘ornaments’, like the sizes and locations of the carburetor air intake, or the number of their cowling flaps. Thus I used the high-resolution, long-lens photo of the SBD-5 (described in the previous post), to determine the ultimate shape of this cowling, and the split lines of its panels (Figure 43‑1a):

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Figure 43-1 Splitting the NACA cowling into individual panels

Basically, the SBD Dauntless NACA cowling was split into a single upper panel and two symmetric side panels. I started by copying corresponding part of the reference shape (created in this post) into the single side panel (Figure 43‑1b). The subdivision surface of such a 120⁰ mesh ‘arc’ is somewhat flat at both ends. Thus I had to tweak a little mesh edges in these areas, fitting them to the reference contour.

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Fixing the Barrel Distortion of the Reference Photos

In this post I describe a break in the modeling that I made this week, because I had to fix my reference photos before the further work. The reason for this fixing was simple: the NACA cowling of my model did fit only the long-lens photos. For the further work I needed more information. This information was available in the high-resolution photos made by the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. However, they are slightly distorted.

In the ‘mathematically ideal perspective’ calculated for the computer cameras all of the straight lines remains straight. Unfortunately, the real-world camera lens can slightly deform (bend) the straight contours. This is so-called ‘barrel’ (or ‘cushion’) distortion of a photo. Unless you are using a panoramic lens, this deformation is hardly noticeable for the naked eye. Unfortunately, these differences become evident when you place a photo behind a 3D model, projected by a computer camera.

In case of reference photos that I used to verify my SBD Dauntless, the differences caused by the barrel distortion are visible around the forward part of the engine cowling (Figure 42‑1):

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Figure 42-1 The influence of the barrel distortion

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Initial Approximation of the Engine Cowling (2)

In this post I will continue my work on the engine cowling. I started it in the previous week by forming a “first approximation” of the forward part of the SBD Dauntless fuselage. Now I will create the last elements of this auxiliary object.

First of them are the covers around the M2 gun barrels. They were hinged around their inner edges, and their cross-section varies from a semi-circle at the NACA cowling to a flat line at the firewall (Figure 41‑1):

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Figure 41-1 Geometry of the gun barrel cover

Continue reading Initial Approximation of the Engine Cowling (2)