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.

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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

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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).

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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.

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Modeling Propeller Blades

The SBD Dauntless used two types of the Hamilton Standard propellers:

  • Hamilton Standard Constant Speed (counterweight propeller) used in the earlier Dauntless versions (SBD-1 … SBD-3). The blades of this propeller had smaller tips (Figure 52‑1a);
  • Hamilton Standard Hydromatic used in the later Dauntless versions (SBD-4 … SBD-6). The blades of this propeller had larger tips (Figure 52‑1b):
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Figure 52-1 The Hamilton Standard propeller blades, used in the SBD Dauntless

These two blades had different shapes. In this post I will recreate the earlier version, which was used in the SBD-1 .. -3 (Figure 52‑1a). Several posts later I will modify its copy to obtain the later model of the blade, as used in the SBD-4 .. -6 (Figure 52‑1b).

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Cockpit Canopy Details

Before I start forming the frames of the Dauntless canopy (which I created in the previous post), I had to conduct yet another verification of its shape. I placed the canopy rails on the cockpit sides, and verified if they fit the corresponding canopy segments. First I tested the rails of the pilot’s canopy (Figure 51‑1a):

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Figure 51-1 Tracing the rails of the pilot’s canopy

They were formed from open-profile beams (Figure 51‑1b). Why these rails are such an important test tool? Because they always have to be parallel to the fuselage centerline! It sounds obvious, but it can reveal various unexpected errors in the canopy shapes.

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Forming the Cockpit Canopy

Like many contemporary designs, the SBD had a long, segmented (“greenhouse”) cockpit canopy. In this post I will show you how I recreated it in my model. I will begin with pilot’s canopy, then continue by creating the three next transparent segments.

I formed the pilot’s canopy by extruding the windscreen rear edge (Figure 50‑1). (I formed this windscreen earlier, it is described in this post). The high-resolution reference photo was a significant help in precise determining its size and shape:

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Figure 50-1 Forming the pilot’s canopy

Generally, the canopy shape in the SBD is quite simple. The tricky part was that each of its segments slides into the previous one. (Oh, well, the pilot’s canopy slides to the rear, but it does not matter in this case). This means that there were clearances between each pair of neighbor canopies that permitted such movements. If I made them too small or too wide, the last (fourth) canopy segment would not fit into cockpit rear border (i.e. the first tail bulkhead)! In such a case I would have to adjust back all the canopy segments. Well, I will do my best to avoid such error.

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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):

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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.

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Modeling the Rear Part of the Engine Cowling

In this post I will create the next section of the engine cowling. I copied its forward edge from the rear edge of the inner cowling panel. Then I extruded it toward the firewall (Figure 48‑1):

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Figure 48-1 Initial shape of the engine cowling behind the NACA ring

I am going to split this object into individual panels, thus I already marked their future edges as “sharp” (as you can see in the figure above). It allowed me to preserve continuity of the tangent directions around these future panel borders from the very beginning.

Continue reading Modeling the Rear Part of the Engine Cowling