Verification of the Model Geometry: the Fuselage

In the previous post I introduced a new method of using photos. I fit the projection of my 3D model into the contours of the same airplane depicted on a high-resolution photograph. I can use such an arrangement as a precise reference. It is a good idea to verify the basic body of the fuselage in this way, when there are no additional details. All the differences that I will find now will save me a lot of troubles in the future. For example — what if I would find that the base of the cockpit canopy in my model should be somewhat wider, when this canopy was ready? I would have to fix both shapes: the canopy and the fuselage. And what if I would already recreate the inner fuselage structure — the longerons and bulkheads — before such a finding? I would also have to fix them all. This is a general rule: the later modifications require much more work than the earlier ones! Thus I have to check everything when the model is relatively simple. You can compare the differences I will find in this post with the plans I published earlier: they contain various minor errors! Just as every drawing.

Last week (see Figures 29-5, 28-7, 29-8) I discovered that the bottom contour of the tail was somewhat lower than in my model (Figure 30‑1):

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Figure 30-1 Verification of the fuselage side contour

Continue reading Verification of the Model Geometry: the Fuselage

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Matching the Model to the Photos

During the previous weeks I formed two main elements of my model: the wing and the main part of fuselage. As you saw, I could not resist myself for adding some details to the wing (like the ribs and spars of the flaps).

Now I think that this is a proper time to stop modeling for a moment and compare the shape of the newly modeled parts to the real airplane. If I find and fix an error in the fuselage shape now, it will save me from much more troubles in the future! If I find an error in the wing shape – well, I will have more work, because I already fit it with some details which will also require reworking… You will see.

The idea of using photos as a precise references emerged from the job that I did two years ago. One of my colleagues asked me if I can recreate the precise shape of the stencils painted on an airplane. He wanted to determine details of the numbers painted on the P-40s stationed in 1941 around Oahu. He sent me the photo. I started by fitting the 3D model to this historical picture, finding by trial-and-error the location and focus of the camera (as in Figure 29‑1):

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Figure 29-1 Using an photo to precisely recreate stencils and roundels of an historical P-40B

Then I made the model surface completely transparent. I placed the opaque drawing (texture) of the large white tactical numbers on its fuselage, and the black, smaller, radio call numbers on the fin. I rendered the result over the underlying photo, finding all the differences. Then I adjusted the drawing and made another check. After several approximations I recreated precisely shapes and sizes of these “decals”.

Continue reading Matching the Model to the Photos

Differences between Dauntless Versions (SBD-5 and SBD-6)

In this last post about scale plans I will write about the modifications introduced in the SBD-5 Dauntless version.

For the reference, I placed below the drawing of the previous version: the SBD-4 (Figure 11‑1):

Figure 11-1 The previous SBD version (SBD-4 — described in the previous post)
Figure 11-1 The previous SBD version (SBD-4 — described in the previous post)

(See the high-resolution SBD-4 left & top view).

Continue reading Differences between Dauntless Versions (SBD-5 and SBD-6)

Differences between Dauntless Versions (SBD-1…4)

To recapitulate my work on the Dauntless plans, I decided to draw all the external differences between its subsequent Navy versions. Because of the numerous changes that occurred in the SBD-5, I decided to split this description into two posts. This is the part one, the part two (about the SBD-5 and the SBD-6) will be ready in the next week.

NOTE: All airplanes on the drawings below are equipped with the small tail wheel with solid rubber tire (for carrier operations). However, for ground airfields Douglas provided alternate, pneumatic, two times larger wheel. These tail wheels could be easily replaced in workshops.

Starting from the beginning: here is the SBD-1, the first of the Douglas Dauntless series (Figure 10‑1):

Figure 10-1 First version (SBD-1, built: 57, since May 1939)
Figure 10-1 First version (SBD-1, built: 57, since May 1939)

(See the high-resolution SBD-1 left & top view).

Continue reading Differences between Dauntless Versions (SBD-1…4)

My Drawings of the SBD: the Bottom View and Other Updates

During previous weeks I was working on the bottom view and other details of the SBD Dauntless. For example — I added a modified side view that reveals the engine and the cowling hidden under the NACA ring (Figure 9‑1):

Figure 9-1 The SBD-5: side and bottom views
Figure 9-1 The SBD-5: side and bottom views

Continue reading My Drawings of the SBD: the Bottom View and Other Updates

How Did I Draw the Top View of the SBD Dauntless

Drawing the vertical views (from the top and bottom) of the SBD Dauntless was more difficult than the side view, because there were no “vertical” photos which you can use to verify and enhance the available plans.

Anyway, I started using everything I could, for example some photos from the restoration done by the Pacific Aviation Museum (Figure 8‑1):

Figure 8-1 Drawing the fuselage and the center wing section
Figure 8-1 Drawing the fuselage and the center wing section

Continue reading How Did I Draw the Top View of the SBD Dauntless

Checking Scale Plans against a General Arrangement Diagram

In my previous post you can find the updated scale plans of the SBD-5 Dauntless, consisting the side and top views. The ultimate shape of depicted airplane resulted from matching my initial drawings against the Douglas general arrangement diagram. I couldn’t do it before, because this diagram comes from the Dauntless maintenance manual, which I received in previous week.

In this post I will show you how I do such a matching using the diagram shown below:

Figure 7-1 General Arrangement Diagram of the SBD-6, March 1944 (it also applies to the SBD-5)
Figure 7-1 General Arrangement Diagram of the SBD-6, March 1944 (it also applies to the SBD-5)

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My Drawings of the SBD: the Top View and Other Updates

This Monday I finally got the “Instructions for the Erection and Maintenance of the Model SBD-6 Airplane” book – more than 600 pages about the Dauntless, published by Douglas in March 1944. Because of the lengthy title, I will refer to this book as the “SBD Maintenance Manual” or the “Douglas manual”. In spite that it describes the last produced version, it is also usable for the earlier models: as I mentioned in one of the previous posts, the SBD-1 airframe behind the firewall differs only in a few details (the double gun mount, gunsight type, lack of the YAGI antennas) from the SBD-6.

Inside you can find the SBD-6 general arrangement drawings, as well as the stations diagram (Figure 6-1):

Figure 6-1 The SBD-6 drawings from the Douglas manual
Figure 6-1 The SBD-6 drawings from the Douglas manual

Continue reading My Drawings of the SBD: the Top View and Other Updates

Reverting Perspective Distortion and Other Tricks

In this post I will show you how do I create Dauntless side views. First I used the “semi-orthogonal” photo of the SBD-5 as the reference to draw the side view of this version (Figure 4-1). This is the most important picture, because it provides reliable “general reference”:

Figure 4-1 Side view of the SBD-5 and its most important photo reference
Figure 4-1 Side view of the SBD-5 and its most important photo reference

Continue reading Reverting Perspective Distortion and Other Tricks