Using Panel Lines to Verify the Fuselage Shape

In every creative process, after each “big step forward” you have to stop and carefully examine the results. Usually you have to make various corrections (sometimes minor, sometimes major), before taking the next step. This post describes such minor corrections that I had to make after mapping the key texture of the panel lines.

In my first post published in October, I drew the panel lines on the model, then compared them with the photos. Sometimes a minor difference between their layouts can lead to a discovery of an error in the fuselage shape. I in that post already found and fixed an issue in the shape of the tailplane fillet.

I also mentioned (see Figure 65‑9 in previous post) that I can see a difference in the bottom part of the wing fillet. Now I would like to resume my analysis at this point (Figure 67‑1):

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Figure 67-1 Difference in the shape of the wing fillet bottom seam

Continue reading Using Panel Lines to Verify the Fuselage Shape

Modeling a C-47 Propeller Blade

This post is a small digression from the main thread – I will write here about a new method for recreating geometry of historical airplanes.

In one of my previous posts I complained that it is hard to find any reliable drawings of the historical propeller blades from the middle of 20th century. In particular, the geometry of various popular Hamilton Standard propellers from WWII era is unavailable. I have found in a discussion on one of the aviation forums that Hamilton Standard Company still keeps this data as their “business secret” – even their design from 1936!

So far, all we had were the photos ­– but it is really difficult to precisely recreate from a few pictures such a twisted, complex shape as the propeller blade. However, it seems that there is a new hope! Two years ago I encountered on Blender Artists forum an interesting project. The Author of this thread (nick: NRK) used one of the general photo-based 3D scanning methods to obtain a spatial reference of a C-47 aircraft. Although this is not the SBD Dauntless, it seems that its Hamilton Standard propeller blades are similar to the blades used in the earlier Dauntless versions (SBD-1 .. SBD-3). Thus I asked NRK for the part of his 3D scan that contains the propeller. He sent me it within a few weeks (thank you very much, Nick!). Below you can see the picture of this blade and the contents of the 3D scan (Figure 66‑1):

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Figure 66-1 The 3D scan of the C-47 propeller (courtesy Nick Keeline)

Continue reading Modeling a C-47 Propeller Blade

Tracing Aircraft Skin Details: Center Wing and the Fuselage

This week I continue mapping the SBD-5 Dauntless skin panels onto my model. After tracing the outer wing sections, described in the previous post, I traced the center wing section (Figure 65‑1):

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Figure 65-1 Traced panels on the center wing

As you can see in the picture, I also traced the contours of the wheel bay on the wing surfaces. (These openings disappear, when you enter mesh edit mode, because they are dynamically created by Boolean modifiers. Thus such contours will be useful during further work, because in this way you can see these edges while editing the mesh).

Continue reading Tracing Aircraft Skin Details: Center Wing and the Fuselage

A New Book — and New Fixes in the Model

Last week I found a new edition of Bert Kinzey’s “SBD Dauntless” book (Figure 59‑1). After ten years break, Bert started to continue his “Detail & Scale” series, this time in a different form: digital editions. This e-book is the “updated and revised” version of an earlier publication (from 1995). For me, the most important part of Kinzey’s books are the “walk around” photos. They differ from all other “walk arounds” by careful selection of the pictures and comprehensive comments that explain many technical details depicted on these images. Usually these comments are as important as the photos.

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Figure 59-1 Bert Kinzey’s book and one of the photos from inside

Continue reading A New Book — and New Fixes in the Model

Final Adjustments of the Model Shape

While working on the cowling details, I discovered that the SBD-5 from the Commemorative Air Force (“white 5”) uses a non-original Hamilton Standard propeller. It has larger hub and a pair of bolts in the middle of the hub barrel edges. (As I wrote in this post, the original Hamilton Standard hubs used in the SBDs were smaller, thus they had a single bolt in the middle of each barrel edge). What’s more, I also noticed that the centerline of my model does not precisely pass through the tip of the propeller dome visible in this photo. When I corrected this mistake, I also noticed that the edges of certain cowling panels in my model are minimally below their counterparts on the photo. I examined this difference and decided that I should fix it by rotating the camera of this projection around the fuselage centerline. It was really a “cosmetic” adjustment — the rotation angle was about 0.7⁰. However, suddenly everything in this model matched better the reference photo — except the horizontal tailplane (Figure 58‑1):

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Figure 58-1 Improved matching of my model to the largest reference photo

Continue reading Final Adjustments of the Model Shape

Details around the Gunner’s Cockpit

The last details that I create in this project stage are the gun doors behind the gunner’s cockpit. In the SBD-1 they covered a single Browning gun. Fortunately, they were wide enough for stowing the double guns, which were mounted in the SBD-2 and SBD-3 by the Navy workshops (Figure 57‑1):

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Figure 57-1 Evolution of the SBD gunner’s cockpit

Note that stowing the ammunition belts of this double gun required additional cutouts in the cockpit rear border. They were covered by slide plates on both sides of the gun doors (Figure 57‑1). In this post I will recreate these details.

Continue reading Details around the Gunner’s Cockpit

Updating the SBD-5 Model

I continue updating the Dauntless versions that I am building in parallel to the basic SBD-3. In the previous post I updated the one important element of the SBD-5 model: its propeller (SBD-3 used an older version of the Hamilton Standard propeller). In this post I will continue this update.

While I already recreated the SBD-5 NACA cowling (see Figure 46-8 in this post), now it is time to adapt the panels behind it. I started by copying the corresponding cowling from the SBD-3. When it appeared in the place, I discovered a 1” gap between this cowling and the SBD-5 inner cowling panel (Figure 56‑1a):

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Figure 56-1 Fitting the rear cowling from the SBD-3 into SBD-5

Continue reading Updating the SBD-5 Model

Modeling Hamilton Standard Hydromatic Propeller

In this post I start finishing the SBD-5 model. It differs in more details from the SBD-3 than the SBD1. One of the most prominent differences is the propeller. I will create it in this post.

In the later Dauntless versions (starting from the SBD-4) Douglas used the new propeller: Hamilton Standard Hydromatic. The SBD-1,-2,-3 used the older constant speed propellers, which used counterweights to oppose the force generated by the oil pressure in the control cylinder. (I created the model of this propeller in this post). The Hydromatic propeller used the oil pressure on both sides of the piston that controlled the pitch. It eliminated the massive counterweights, creating a lighter, smaller, and more precise pitch control unit. Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propellers has been widely used since 40’ (you can still encounter them in the various modern aircraft).

In the Dauntless, these Hydromatic propellers came with slightly modified blades (Figure 55‑1):

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Figure 55-1 The Hamilton Standard Hydromatic propeller (mounted in the SBD-4)

Continue reading Modeling Hamilton Standard Hydromatic Propeller

Updating the Model of the SBD-1

As I described it in one of my previous posts, in parallel to the SBD-3 I build a SBD-1 model and a SBD-5 model. They are in the same Blender file, but in separate scenes. Since I completed the SBD-3 model for this project stage, now it is time to take care of these other versions. These models share all the common objects with the SBD-3, so I have to recreate a few different details. I already modified their NACA cowlings. In this post I will update the SBD-1, because there is just a single remaining difference: the ventilation slot in the side panel of the engine cowling.

The SBD-3 had this slot much wider than the SBD-1 and SBD-2 (Figure 54‑1):

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Figure 54-1 Comparison of the ventilation slots in the SBD-3 and the earlier versions

(I used here an archival photo of the SBD-2, because it had the same side cowling as the SBD-1. There were only 57 SBD-1s ever built, so the photos of this version are not as numerous as the later ones).

Continue reading Updating the Model of the SBD-1

Modeling Hamilton Standard Counterweight Propeller

In the previous post I modeled the blade of Hamilton Standard Constant Speed propeller, which was used in the SBD-1, -2 and -3. The Douglas factory mounted on the hub of this propeller a small spinner (Figure 53‑1a):

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Figure 53-1 The Hamilton Standard Constant Speed propeller (used in the SBD-1, SBD-2 and SBD-3)

It seems that during the service of these aircraft, the ground crew often removed this spinner. It exposed the propeller pitch control mechanism (Figure 53‑1b). There are many photos of the SBD-2 and SBD-3 without spinners, thus I decided that I had also to model this “bare” variant.

Continue reading Modeling Hamilton Standard Counterweight Propeller