Sunday, October 12, 2008

Diary of a Fokker Part 1: Decisions & Preparation

I was hoping to blog the progress on the Fokker D.VII as I work on it. Anyway first up one has to make a number of design decisions.

I am only a couple of days work into the project. Day 1 was mainly refreshing and reviewing my earlier research and reference material of which I have a great deal.

Day 2 was mainly spent scanning drawings and measuring them in Photoshop. For reference in 3DS Max I usually map reference drawings to the sides of a box, created to the dimensions of the aircraft. One has to be careful with published dimensions and I usually check and compare amongst a number of references before modeling. One thing I did learn early with WW1 aircraft is that one cannot just accept the published height of the aircraft. Frequently the mapped side view drawing had slightly oval tires when using published height dimensions. When it comes to the aircraft profile I usually measure from the highest point on the profile drawing, usually the top of the propellor, to the bottom of the tire. I measure length, height and wingspan in pixels and use proportional arithmetic to calculate the height in meters using published dimensions for span and length. I then create a box in 3DS Max using these dimensions. I convert the box to a mesh, invert the normals and then explode the mesh. Mapping the drawing is then relatively easy.

Fokker D.VII view box

As to decisions - the goal is to create a museum quality 3D model, as detailed as possible while still offering reasonable perf in FSX. The first decision is easy - target platform FSX. I am not planning on modeling the Fokker D.VII for any other flight simulations at this stage. I have no interest in FS2004 at this stage, CFS3 has OFF and Rise of Flight already has a very nice Fokker D.VII in the base package. The Fokker D.VII was built by 3 different companies, Fokker, Albatros and Albatros subsidiary OAW. This introduces visual variations, mainly in cowling and finish. The Fokker D.VII could also be powered by a number of different engines, Mercedes DIIIa 170 h.p., DIIIau 180 h.p. or BMW.IIIa 185 h.p. There are visual difference between the 3 engines. Additionally design changes, changes on the louvres, changes in exhaust type etc, were ongoing throughout the war.

Initial decisions made are to model at least one different model from each manufacturer and also at least one BMW IIIa model. Consideration will be made during construction as to cowling exhaust variations. Thus there will be at least 4 different visual models.

How detailed will we go? As the goal is to create a museum quality model it is intended to at least equal the detail inherint the Sopwith Snipe, only tighter and more accurate employing the experience gained in creating the Snipe and the earlier Bristol Fighter F.2B. This means every screw, bolt, nut, clamp, fitting that is visible in the cockpit, will be modeled. Expect highly detailed Spandau guns. I have a few experiments in mind, along the way so detail will be taken further. Externally I have yet to make a decision on how detailed I will model the engine or how much I will make visible. Tentatively I would like to have removable engine cowlings and panels.

I will start the model from the inside and model outwards. I have already started modeling the tube frame. At this stage I do not plan to model the interior structure of the wings, but will allow for that at a later date if I create a model for rendering also.

Other decisions - well heaps more has to be decided. At this stage whether it will be payware is not known. Hopefully it will be but that depends on how things go.

One other decision just made... revival of the Fokker D.VIII. This will be approached in the same way as the Fokker D.VII and use some of the same parts.... however at this stage the D.VIII will comprise of one visual model, probably FSX only (unless also for ROF?). The FSX version of the D.VIII is probably going to be freeware.

Now back to the Sopwith Snipe.