Recreating the P-40B Side Contour (1)

As I wrote in the previous post, it is impossible to find a complete documentation of the early P-40 variants (so-called “long nose Hawks”: P-40cu, P-40B and P-40C). I collected all what is currently available from the Internet portals: blueprints of their direct predecessor (P-36) and drawings of the later variants (the “short nose” P-40D … P-40N). Using these scanned microfilm frames, archival photos and technical descriptions you can recreate the wings, empennage, tail and mid-fuselage of these aircraft.

I started with the most obvious part of the side view: the fuselage.  Behind the firewall it was basically identical to the P-36, except the tail wheel cover:

Figure 99-1 The P-36 fuselage (behind the firewall) with modified tail wheel cover as for the P-40B

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Creating the Tail Wheel

The Dauntless had fixed tail wheel of a typical design among the carrier-based aircraft. The tail wheel assembly consisted a fork connected to two solid-made beams, which movement was countered by a shock strut. The beams and the shock strut were attached to the last bulkhead of the fuselage (Figure 82‑1):

Figure 82-1 Tail wheel assembly

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Creating Textures: Markings

The last texture for my model contains various elements that in the plastic kits are delivered as the decals: national insignia, radio-call numbers and various service labels. I prepared it as another vector drawing in Inkscape:

Figure 77-1 “Decals” texture for the SBD-3 model (the reference drawing is visible in the background)

I exported this picture to a raster file named color-decals.png. It has transparent background, because I will combined this image with the other components of the color texture, prepared in previous posts.

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Modeling Empennage Details

After the previous post I decided to simplify the empennage fairing. Originally I created it from two separate objects: the fin fairing and the tailplane fairing, split across their fillet. Now I decided to eliminate this troublesome seam by joining these two meshes into single object (Figure 37‑1):

Figure 37-1 Initial merge of the two fairings

I will split it later, along the bottom rib of the fin (there was another panel seam in the real airplane). To simplify creation of the original overlapped panels, I simultaneously split the fin into the forward and the rear part, along one of the original seams.

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Modeling the Fin Fairing

In the SBD Dauntless the fillet along the fin and the fuselage was formed from the bent bottom edges of the fin panels. I am showing it in Figure 36‑1:

Figure 36-1 Details of the fin fairing

(To make some of these panel seams more visible on thee photos, I sketched along them thin lines). You can observe that each fin panel overlaps the next one, starting from the tip stamped as the part of one of the fuselage doors (see Figure 35‑8 in the previous post). The outer contours of these panes are not perfectly aligned: you can see small overlaps on the photos (Figure 36‑1). Surprisingly, such a detail makes the modeling more difficult. However, the most difficult part will be the seam between the fin and the horizontal tailplane fairings (see Figure 36‑1). It runs along the fuselage longeron, across the fillet between the stabilizers and fuselage.

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Modeling the Empennage (3)

I started the vertical tailplane of the SBD by forming its root airfoil (Figure 35‑1). I had no description nor a direct photo of the airfoil used here. However, the reference photos reveal that it could have similar shape to the airfoil of the horizontal tailplane. Thus I copied that curve into this mesh.

Figure 35-1 The root airfoil of the rudder/fin

Continue reading Modeling the Empennage (3)