Modeling the Upper Cowling of the Fuselage

In this post I will form the fuselage panels in the front of the windscreen. In the SBD there were two hinged cowlings, split in the middle. They allowed for quick and easy access to the M2 gun breeches and the internal cabling behind the instrument panels (Figure 49‑1):

Figure 49-1 The hinged cowling in the front of the windscreen

The parts of the fuselage around the cockpit are always tricky to model. It especially applies to the panel around the windscreen. When you obtain the intersection edge of these two objects, it can reveal every error in the windscreen or the fuselage shape.

To be better prepared for this task, I created an auxiliary, simplified model of this fuselage section (see this post and the next one). Now I copied a part of it as the initial mesh of this panel (Figure 49‑2):

Figure 49-2 Copying the initial mesh from the reference object

In the next step I used my Intersection add-on to obtain the intersection edge between this mesh and the windscreen object (Figure 49‑3a):

Figure 49-3 Creating the edge around the windscreen

Initially this edge is not connected to any of the mesh faces. To fit this panel to the windscreen I removed some of the original faces and created in their place the new ones. They incorporated the intersection edge into this mesh (see Figure 49‑3b).

The resulting curve that I obtained in this way required just a few minor adjustments (Figure 49‑4a):

Figure 49-4 Final adjustments of the edge around the windscreen

It is always good idea to check this shape in the reference photo (Figure 49‑4b). Fortunately, it seems that my edge between the windscreen and the fuselage fits its real counterpart.

When I verified the basic shape of this panel, I extruded it into the “frame” strip that spans around the windscreen (Figure 49‑5):

Figure 49-5 Forming the windscreen bottom “frame”

To obtain a shape that resembles the real part, I assigned to the intersection edge a multi-segment Bevel modifier. It produces a fillet that forces the Subdivision Surface modifier (applied later) to generate a more regular rounding along this windscreen bottom frame.

Finally I created the armor plates that were attached to this hinged cowling. It was an easy part: I copied corresponding fragment of the cowling mesh, then I used a Solidify modifier to make it thick enough (on the photos it seems to have just a few millimeters) (Figure 49‑6):

Figure 49-6 Forming the armor plates

I think that in this armor I will use textures (bump texture, ref texture) to recreate the bolts and the circular recesses around their heads (as visible in the photos). However, I will do it during the next stage of this project.

The last element that I modeled in this mesh was the seam along the bottom border of this panel. It was stamped in the sheet metal to overlap the upper longeron of the fuselage (Figure 49‑7a):

Figure 49-7 A minor detail — the overlapped seam over the fuselage longeron

I also thought about recreating this detail in the textures, but ultimately I decided that it needs a more pronounced appearance. It is an easy effect (Figure 49‑7b) that required just a few additional edges (Figure 49‑7c).

In this source *.blend file you can evaluate yourself the model from this post.

In the next post I will form the multiple segments of the SBD “greenhouse” cockpit canopy.

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