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Blackburn_TF_Mk._IV.jpg

 

It is easy to be wise after the event, and it is in some such light that one cannot help viewing the probable work of the Firebrand in the Pacific had not Japan surrendered. As it is, this aircraft has not had a chance to prove its formidable capabilities against our erstwhile active enemies. That the aircraft is formidable there can be no doubt and the writer cannot help but feel a twinge of regret that circumstances, past and recent, prevented it from demonstrating the quality of its powers.

-  Flight, September 27th 1945

 

It was never my favourite aeroplane, and we would have been very poorly placed if it had been necessary to go to war strapped to such a lumbering giant.

-  Cdr Maurice Tibby

 

I like Firebrands. To me it’s one of those rare aircraft that unfortunately did not benefit from the ‘if it looks right…’ rule of thumb. Despite looking very much the part of the capable carrier strike aircraft, it was rather lacking in too many respects. As far as appearances go though, in my opinion it’s a winner. The front half resembles a leaner Sea Fury, without the camel hump rather detracts from the latter’s lines. Even that barn door of a fin doesn’t entirely diminish the overall impression of ruggedness.

 

The choice in 1/48 is limited to Magna’s resin offering, and the various online reviews of said kit don’t inspire a massive desire to search out an example. I seem to remember, at a SMW long ago, that Dynavector showed a prototype master for the Firebrand for their next vac release. Sadly they exited the kit business not long afterwards.

 

For a while I’ve idly entertained the possibility of scratchbuilding a Firebrand, and recently I’ve made some small movements in actually doing something about it. Time will tell whether it gets very far. I don’t expect this to progress rapidly, so if you’re tempted to use the ‘popcorn’ emoji then be sure to stock up. If in the meantime someone goes ahead and releases a decent kit, then no one will be happier than I.

 

Anyway, the current intention is to 3D print some of the more complex parts (propeller blades, cowling perhaps) and use ‘traditional’ scratchbuilding techniques for other parts of the airframe. That notwithstanding, I think it’s likely that I shall end up drafting most of the airframe in 3D, since I think this might be useful for scratchbuilding purposes (e.g. for creating bulkheads, ribs, and other cross sections).

 

To do this I’m getting to grips with a couple of free 3D packages, namely Autodesk’s 123D and Fusion 360. Of which more later. Expect this thread to be a series of semi-random posts as I flit back and forth between research, 3D modelling and, eventually, perhaps even some proper plastic bashing.

 

By no means do I consider myself a Firebrand expert (plus I’m learning the software as I go along), so if anyone has any hints or advice in either area they would be most welcome.

 

cheers,

Jason

 

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Propeller

Starting, for lack of a better idea, at the front of the aircraft, the propeller blades were the first parts that I modelled. There is a ‘loft’ function in the software that will create a solid shape from a series of cross sections, much in the same way that lofts are used in traditional shipbuilding.

 

Lacking better information I assumed the propeller cross section to be a Clark Y aerofoil, which was not uncommon for period propellers. Of course, the cross section won’t be terribly obvious in the final article, but it should at least give a convincing look to the prop.

 

Having drawn out the aerofoil in 2D within the software, it was then duplicated and scaled to give the tapering sectional shapes as one progresses along the blade. The root sections were thickened up in order to accommodate the shaft leading into the spinner and hub. The sections were then rotated to give the twist down the length of the blade. The final arrangement of sections is shown below.

 

34163581646_6e0a1b3de1_z.jpg

 

One then presses the ‘loft’ button and presto, a solid propeller blade appears. I’m aware that the tip shape is not right; due to vagaries of the loft feature I think it’ll be easier to manually trim the tip into the correct ‘steak knife’ profile.

 

33362022834_64c6806b78_z.jpg

 

Mildly interesting is the fact that the LE and TE of the blades are more or less parallel from root to about two-thirds length. In some photos this is obvious, in others the twist obfuscates matters slightly.

 

34163580236_b501e207c4.jpg

 

34163580016_7d7c0ce1cc.jpg33362021914_10c4eb4548.jpg

 

[After doing the prop I mostly transitioned to Fusion 360 for modelling. This offers much more functionality than 123D, at the cost of greater complexity and a longer learning curve. In the end I didn’t think I could do some of the more complex shapes in 123D.]

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Posted (edited)

Hello Jason,

                   Very interesting,.......I have built the Magna Firebrand and found it to be OK,.....much easier than building one from scratch!

 

Here is an excellent ongoing WIP;

 

And here is my own model;

DSCF7257_zpscccdfbba.jpg

I agree that the propeller blades are wrong and one day I may get around to doing something about them!

 

Good luck with your project and I hope that you finish it,

Cheers

          Tony

Edited by tonyot

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Have you checked out any of the free 3d models websites? They have a ton of obscure and weird stuff for free. It might require some tweaks,  but it has to be better than starting from scratch.  I've done that on a few sci-fi subjects I've really wanted,  but nobody would ever model.  

 

BTW for what it's worth, focus on shapes over details.  Sometimes printing can distort fine shapes, so I always make sure at least the shapes are correct. 

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I'm in and sitting comfortably.

This is going to be a very interesting experience, especially with all the refinements that you're planning.

Good luck with the build.

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On ‎23‎/‎04‎/‎2017 at 1:30 AM, tonyot said:

Hello Jason,

                   Very interesting,.......I have built the Magna Firebrand and found it to be OK,.....much easier than building one from scratch!

 

Here is an excellent ongoing WIP;

 

And here is my own model;

 

I agree that the propeller blades are wrong and one day I may get around to doing something about them!

 

Good luck with your project and I hope that you finish it,

Cheers

          Tony

 

Hi Tony,

 

I knew as soon as I posted the comment about the Magna kit that someone would produce an example of an excellent build! I must confess that part of my reason going down this route is out of desire to do some experimentation with various techniques like 3D design, and to expand my scratchbuilding repertoire. It also lets me focus on areas which I know might bug me about a kit offering, rather than accepting what's in the box. Thanks as well for the link; I'd seen it during my various searches for information.

 

cheers,

Jason

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11 hours ago, Thud4444 said:

Have you checked out any of the free 3d models websites? They have a ton of obscure and weird stuff for free. It might require some tweaks,  but it has to be better than starting from scratch.  I've done that on a few sci-fi subjects I've really wanted,  but nobody would ever model.  

 

BTW for what it's worth, focus on shapes over details.  Sometimes printing can distort fine shapes, so I always make sure at least the shapes are correct. 

 

Thanks for the pointers. I've not yet had a look at the free model sites, but no doubt will at some point. I'm also fully expecting to have to clean up and detail most of the 3D parts; you're right to say that it's the shape that's the important thing.

 

4 hours ago, cngaero said:

I'm in and sitting comfortably.

This is going to be a very interesting experience, especially with all the refinements that you're planning.

Good luck with the build.

 

Good to have you along and thanks!

 

J.

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I like the Firebrand. Brutal looking aircraft.  

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Cowling

Sat within the cowling is Bristol’s doughty Centaurus. On first inspection the aspiring scratchbuilder (i.e. muggins) might entertain notions of using the cowling from, say, a Sea Fury kit for this project. Sadly there are some differences vis a vis the Firebrand that make this problematic.

 

Firstly, the Sea Fury cowl is cylindrical and axi-symmetric; i.e. as near as dammit parallel top and bottom (obligatory red lines for emphasis):

 

34163579796_0fe136ca31.jpg

 

The Firebrand cowl is not:

 

33362021654_71ef459d11.jpg

 

As far as I can tell the difference is principally around the lower section, which features a deeper ‘chin’, thereby throwing the cross section out of round. What this extra depth accommodates I’m not sure, but I suspect it has something to do with the inlet scoop visible in the photo above.

 

It’s as well to note at this point that I don’t fully trust any of the commonly available Firebrand plans. One area that urges caution is the profile of the cowl. Some drawings show a very pronounced and deep chin, which I don’t believe is borne out by photographs. Since this area is rather important to the overall look of the Firebrand, I’m keen to make a good a job of it as possible.  In no particular order:

 

34163579446_d54ee820fa.jpg

 

34073773321_a8913cb773.jpg

 

34163579176_f5f2178913_z.jpg

 

Of these, I’m more inclined to trust the last* (hereafter AoFP), although I have reservations in other areas.

[*And no, not just because it has more lines]

 

It’s always tricky comparing against photographs, but the fact that said plans don’t even agree with each other suggests that something is amiss somewhere. Given evidence like the photographs below, I think the Firebrand cowl is somewhat leaner than the first two drawings suggest.

 

34073772751_2929f90bc7.jpg

 

34163578796_a16df8b994.jpg

 

Other differences (to the Sea Fury) include the shape of the area behind the exhaust stubs*, and the point at which the nose profile begins to incline towards the windscreen.

[*Also note that the Sea Fury features nine stubs per bank in this area, versus the Firebrand’s eight. The two remaining stubs on the Firebrand exhaust on the underside]

 

So how to model it in 3D?

 

Another nifty feature of 123D and Fusion 360 is the ability to ‘sweep’ a cross section around a central axis to generate a solid. A process demonstrated here.

 

The astute amongst you will have already noted that this method will give an axi-symmetric cowl around the central axis; correct for the Sea Fury style, but not the Firebrand. All is not lost however; Fusion 360 allows basic shapes to be tweaked after creation– hopefully into something resembling a Firebrand.

 

The cross section has been created based on a Bristol Centaurus installation drawing (below). This is a generic installation drawing from Bristol and not (I believe) specifically for the Firebrand. However the principle is fairly standard between installations, and the unit is so closely cowled that it should be representative enough. Another detail that gives some confidence is the presence of the cooling fan (Item 1, green), which is a feature of the Firebrand Centaurus installation.

 

34073772051_09b226bc7d_c.jpg

 

The relevant cross section is shown in red (for a change). I’ve thickened the rear section in order to give enough thickness for 3D printing when reduced to scale size.

 

I’ve done a 180 degree section rather than the full 360. I think it might be easier to work on a half section and mirror it, rather than try and keep everything symmetrical as I tinker with the shape.

 

34073770971_087483dc90.jpg   33362019144_5e79c67e4a.jpg

 

J.

 

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Posted (edited)

Be careful when you try to print the mirrored parts. Some printers "Go stupid " and can't work out the reversed equation. As silly as it sounds, I get around it by changing parts. I've never had any problems when I source my printing to somebody like Shapeways. Either they have better printers or better software.

Edited by Thud4444

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Brutal looking machine, a beast of an engine, and then you top it of with some nice 3D CAD-pictures?

I like it!

:popcorn::popcorn::popcorn::popcorn:

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Excellent start ! First time I've seen someone using Fusion 360 in a modelling context. I've been a draffy all my life and have to say that 360 is a wonderful tool, pretty damn solid to use, good user base and you can 'virtually' do anything it. As you've already used 123D the transition won't be that bad. For anyone else out there who fancy's a dabble then give it a go.....it's free ! I would concour though with a tip made above, focus on getting the basic shapes right first, add detail later or even don't add it at all and think more along the multi media line, I've done home made photo etch before in AutoCAD, printed it, ironed it on to sheet brass and etched it in a pyrex bowl !

 

Great work, keep it going !

 

Cheerio

 

Clive

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12 hours ago, Thud4444 said:

Be careful when you try to print the mirrored parts. Some printers "Go stupid " and can't work out the reversed equation. As silly as it sounds, I get around it by changing parts. I've never had any problems when I source my printing to somebody like Shapeways. Either they have better printers or better software.

 

Cheer for the pointers. In the end, I found a way to create a full 360-degree sweep, while maintaining a port/starboard mirrored relationship between the two sides. So that should hopefully avoid the issue you've described.

 

Anyway, I've created the deeper cowl by tweaking the edges and vertices.

 

Going from this:

33386113834_6dc7652838_z.jpg

 

To this:

33386111324_7ac4b16de0_z.jpg

 

and from the front:

33843800580_66abca3960_z.jpg

 

J.

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2 hours ago, Nearlymen said:

Excellent start ! First time I've seen someone using Fusion 360 in a modelling context. I've been a draffy all my life and have to say that 360 is a wonderful tool, pretty damn solid to use, good user base and you can 'virtually' do anything it. As you've already used 123D the transition won't be that bad. For anyone else out there who fancy's a dabble then give it a go.....it's free ! I would concour though with a tip made above, focus on getting the basic shapes right first, add detail later or even don't add it at all and think more along the multi media line, I've done home made photo etch before in AutoCAD, printed it, ironed it on to sheet brass and etched it in a pyrex bowl !

 

Great work, keep it going !

 

Cheerio

 

Clive

 

Thanks Clive. If you see any major howlers feel free to shout; I'd welcome any thoughts.

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Fusion 360 looks very slick and simple to use compared to PTC Creo which I use daily...

I probably need to test this, just for "scientific" purposes.

 

Cowl shape looks perfectly fine from the side, but it looks (*) a little strange with the deep keel in the front view.

I guess you have some cross-sections to compare against too?

 

* Disclaimer: I know nothing about the shape of Firebrand

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2 hours ago, Christer A said:

Fusion 360 looks very slick and simple to use compared to PTC Creo which I use daily...

I probably need to test this, just for "scientific" purposes.

 

Cowl shape looks perfectly fine from the side, but it looks (*) a little strange with the deep keel in the front view.

I guess you have some cross-sections to compare against too?

 

* Disclaimer: I know nothing about the shape of Firebrand

 

Hi Christer,

 

There is a small cross section (at the correct fuselage station) in one set of plans, but how good is anyone's guess. FWIW, I've been looking at the 'keel' as well and wondering about the width of it. To a large extent its size would depend on its function, but sadly the cutaways I've seen are at the wrong angle to show this area. I think I'll have a bit of a play and see how it looks with this area made a little broader.

 

cheers,

Jason

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Played around a bit with the 'chin'.

 

33407413354_ac465cb233_z.jpg

 

J.

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Hi Jason,

Howlers ? Nah ! Your doing great ! Your methodology is fine, it's how I would approach it, i.e.  draw a section, make it a polyline and extrude/loft around the required axis then pull to shape with grips....simples ! Thing is you can make it as difficult or as simple as you like, just plan ahead, always save as you go along (if you get a little nervous save as a different file as you go along). Get the basic shapes sorted first, then when it comes to getting stuck in with Booleans (might be showing my age saying that !)  and subtracting matl for cut outs you can have a bit of fun !

 

Cheers

 

Clive

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I would add I only took my own stumbling steps into actual '3D printing' a couple of years ago but it's really good to be able to use multiple skills on a project i.e. the drafting, 3D design (both of which in my case are my day job), then use 3D printing which to me was new but turned out to be really good ,then add all the modelling skills you've acquired and it becomes very satisfying ! My first experiment in this was building a little steam loco, it was small and reasonably cheap to do, plus the time you take costs you nothing so you can take a leisurely stroll through the drafting/3D design stage, one thing though... bear in mind minimum wall thicknesses for your chosen material, but all this info is on the Shapeways site. I use acyclic ultra frosted, nice detail, slightly brittle but sands ok. others here might have other preferences so have a delve and see what you can find ! Anyway I'll butt out now and let you get on with the serious stuff !

 

Keep up the good work

 

Clive

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Creating fuselage stations. Some were based on the available sections from plans, and I've had to eyeball some intermediate ones.

 

34434946855_9d2092e7cf_c.jpg

 

And the result after lofting through the stations. Obviously a lot left to do, but it's feeling like progress!

 

34393435796_548e988160_c.jpg

 

You can see in the above pic the makings of the prominent slot at the rear of the Centaurus cowl - a feature of both the Sea Fury and Firebrand installations of the engine.

 

34304409191_ab815a5db6_b.jpg

 

34275435192_15084bac38_c.jpg

 

cheers,

J.

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Haven't got a clue about 3D modelling, printing and such like but I so want a 1:48 Firebrand :thumbsup:

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