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1/18 Scale P-51B 3D Print Build


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Posted (edited)

As of my last post, there were two major items left in the cockpit - the rudder pedals and the pilot's seat.  So I set to work on them.


Model Monkey has a few 3D printed items in 1/18 scale for the P-51, and I took advantage of that and ordered some stuff.  This is what I got:




Rudder pedals with the NAA emblems, the Warren-McArthur (WM) seat which comes with armor plate, and P-51A/B/C bomb shackles.  The bomb shackles will gather dust for an eternity but glad I got them.  The rudder pedals - stay tuned.  The WM seat - well it's really nice but it is set up for the P-51D model, which has quite different support tubes and its attachment to the armor plate.  So, I am going to save it for the time when I do a -D model - a real possibility with so much commonality with the -B.


The rudder pedals surprisingly fit into my fuselage with nearly no modification at all.  That center post had to be trimmed back to clear the control lock push rod, but that's all.  I added some simple details so that I could attach control cables, painted it, and installed it into the fuselage.  Voila:






From the front:




It was no surprise to me at all that with the windshield in place along with the instrument panel and center console, the rudder pedals literally cannot be seen unless with a flashlight and even then only a little.  What can be seen are the cables, nearly all the RH cable, and just a bit of the LH cable.   Oh well.  I know they are there and they are beautiful.


The seat.  P-51's had two different seats to choose from, and they were interchangeable even though they look quite different from one another.  A Warren-McArthur (WM) seat which is a sheet metal ugly looking bucket, and a Schick-Johnson (SJ) seat, I believe made mostly from plywood, and to my eye a more elegant looking item.  Sometime in the P-51B run, the WM seat began to replace the SJ on the production line, until by the time the -D model was being produced, it appears that the WM seat only was being supplied.  I have some reason to believe my subject had the WM seat.


So I was going to have trouble with the Model Monkey seat due to its different support tubes and top mounting brackets.  But not to fear - Peter Castle (Airscale) quite a while back gave me a huge data dump from his Lope's Hope P-51C build, and in it he provided a Rhino model of a WM seat that he developed.  He did alot of work on it, I can tell.  So I took it and messed around with it some and made my own version based on his.  A picture of it in Rhino, integrated with my floor panels, the control stick, and the armor plate:




It's about 50% Airscale and 50% JayW.  Thanks again Peter.  You're the greatest.  And here is the 3D printed kit:




Hairspray method chipping, and springs made from .01 inch diameter silver solder.  I am very happy with these parts.  


Assembled and ready for a back pad and seat belts and shoulder harness:








You can see it is a different support arrangement than the Model Monkey parts.


Dry fitted into the cockpit:






Those pretty springs are hidden.  Sad.  Shoot - look at the sag in my chain.  :angry2:  Gotta fix that.


Well I cannot iinstall the seat until I get the seat belts, shoulder harness, and back pad in there.  Gonna take a while.  God I am ready to be done with this cockpit!


So in the meantime, I am modeling up the radiator fairings:




Started with the surfaces I created quite a while ago, and began building with help from the drawings.  The inner duct contours are challenging, but they are coming along.  The exit door too.  




The hardest one remains - the "twilight zone" fairings where the coolant radiator and oil cooler radiator reside, along with the elaborate ducting that leads into and out of those radiators.  In the next few days I hope to have that taken care of.  This zone also interfaces with the complicated aft most wing-to-fuselage fillet fairing, adding to the fun. 


Take care, stay cool all of you in the Northern hemisphere.  It's HOT where I am right now!    

Edited by JayW
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On 6/26/2024 at 11:51 PM, SwissFighters said:

FWIW, the Schick-Johnson seats were 100% aluminium construction as well. 


So Tony - this got me going some, trying to figure out what is what.  Seat assembly drawing 102-53009, which is the appropriate drawing for my subject (a P-51B-10NA) is effective for all P-51B and C aircraft.  This drawing specifies a non-NAA item (a purchased item) Schick-Johnson seat up until about about midway through the B-5's and midway through the C-1's.  Beyond that, the non-NAA purchased item "SK2016" seat is specified, and this is the Warren McArthur seat. 


But if you look at the revision block of that drawing, you see interesting things:  




The date of the C revision is not shown, but the B revision is May of 1943 and the D revision is October 1943.  So between those times.  The C-revision states that "Schick-Johnson Co" replaces a "Morrow Aircraft Corp".  Whaaaaaa??   And it also alludes to a drawing "91-53074".


Drawing 91-53074 is an in-house (NAA) drawing fully defining a plywood seat.  There are two seats defined on that drawing.  One is a re-inforced version of the other, but both are plywood.  It appears that NAA at some point quit building this seat (if they ever did - maybe "Morrow" did), and sub-contracted it out to Schick-Johnson, who appears to have not had their own design, but merely built the NAA design, which is plywood.   This seat, whoever made it, dates all the way back to the AT-6 (SNJ) Texan, the original P-51, P-51A, and AT-6. 


I certainly hear of metal Schick Johnson seats.  But I see no record of such a thing within the NAA drawings.  What do you know that I don't? 


At any rate - my subject gets the SK2016 (WM) seat.     

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Hmmm...okay, cool! Happy to concede it seems SJ produced other seat models using plywood. That lower exploded view from Antonio is the model I was referring to. I have many pictures of that seat clearly show aluminium throughout, but the model shown above that image is, I think, a different design. I have learned something today! Thanks Jay and Antonio! Tony

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well, even this Morrow information is new for me.


Wikipedia say to Morrow:



"Morrow was forced to sell its plant to the War Department in February 1942 for $64,000. The following month, the company began removing its equipment to Rialto and the Tri-City Airport. Shortly thereafter, it announced plans to begin hiring women and begin building wooden pilots' seats. In 1943, it became the Morrow Aircraft-Ziebrach Joint Adventure."


My topic to the Seat 91-53074:



To date, I have not seen any seat pictures from the war period that are 100% identical to drawing 91-53074.

Take a look at the seat pictures linked to the P40 page, there you will see a picture of the plywood seat from below with the indication M.A.C = Morrow Aircraft Corporation.

It is therefore clear that this seat was manufactured by Morrow.

The role of Schick-Johson Aircraft Seating is still unclear to me, maybe someone can help?


Jay, inform me if You need the STL file of the plywood seat.



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Posted (edited)

Great discussion on the seat assembly!  Morrow Aircraft Corporation - I am the smarter for it.


On 7/1/2024 at 3:53 PM, Ralph-D said:

Jay, inform me if You need the STL file of the plywood seat.


Thanks Ralph!  Nice to know.  But this bird gets the WM seat.


So I am in this world right now where one thing leads to another which leads to another.  I am in the midst of developing the Rhino models for the radiator intake and exhaust areas below the lower longeron, as reported last update:




In order to fully integrate this area so that I can commence with 3D print part making, I have to consider the wing/fuselage fillet fairings, which up until now I have not created surfaces for.  So I have been busy doing just that.  But, in order to create those surfaces, especially the underside of the aft-most fairing - this one...




..... I must do at least some deveopment of the inboard end of the flap.  And to do that, I must try to decipher a flap assembly drawing 73-18001 which is a most hard to read drawing:




I am certain that the planners and tooling and fab folks in the NAA factory had to collar the engineers on multiple occasions to help them read that awful drawing.  So that they could fab up that first set of flaps back in '42 or whenever.  Anyway the inboard end of the flap is kind of complicated, and the underside of the wing/fuselage fairing has to match it.  Airscale - if you are reading this, you know this well.  At least I have the basic wing surfaces, created back when i started this project a year ago or so.


So one things leads to another and another.  And it is taking time. 


Wing/fuselage fairing lines and surfaces are in progress:




The aft end is tough.  Very tough.  Further forward, easy.  And the various fairing assemblies in the radiator area are in progress as well:




Four fairings, and two hinged exhaust doors.  The Mustang enthusiast will recognise the parts instantly.  


The most difficult development is this one:






The real part looks like this (thanks again for the photos Peter C):






It isn't finished yet, but close.  It includes a large portion of the the coolant radiator intake duct, the oil cooler intake duct, a couple of fuel vents on the skin, a mounting interface for the wing/fuselage fairing.  Also I mean to give it two thin flat plates with perforation designs meant to simulate the oil cooler radiator and the coolant radiator, which can be seen if one peers into the sexy intake scoop under the wing.


All right then.  The struggles continue.  Next post I hope to show you some parts.  Take care all.




Edited by JayW
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Well I have a big 3D print parts dump for you all.  Took two print batches, one for the big parts at .05 mm thickness, one for the smaller parts at .03 mm thickness:




One, the forward radiator housing, and the most troublesome and complex one, has already been bonded to the fuselage.  It was a tad narrow for some reason, and I had difficulty fitting it over the two lower longerons.  The rest are better.  There are 15 different parts that are new there (not counting some duplicates), and I do not think I need to redo any of them.  That's a first!  Yay! 


Note also that work has begun on those pesky side windows - they look awful and will get worse before they get better.  I think I erred greatly on those transparencies.  If memory serves, after sanding and burnishing and polishing were complete, I dipped them in future.  It was not a great dip, so after allowing some time to cure, I sprayed clear gloss Tamiya over them.  It appears to me that the combination isn't good.  The resulting surfaces were (and are still, at least until sanding began) a bit tacky and picked up smudges very easily that cannot be buffed out.  I dunno - but I am in the process of sanding off whatever is on them, and starting again.  This time no future.  Wish me luck - I am nervous about it, especially since these transparencies are the weak link of this whole build so far.  :unsure:  Back to the subject - a couple of interesting details follow:


Here is one of three fuel vents that are prominent little details of P-51 fuselages.  One in real life:




And in 1/18 scale 3D printed:



Note it lacks the cap you see in the picture above it.  That feature was added after my subject was manufactured.  A tough little Rhino modeling exercise.  Prior to the introduction of the fuselage fuel tank, P-51B/C models had two - one on either side of the lower fuselage under the aft-most wing/fuselage fillet fairing.  They were for the two wing fuel tanks.  When the fuselage tank was added (presumably either by field mod or on the production line), a third vent was added on the RH side just above the radiator air exit door. 


Here is the oil tank front face, which is visible if one peers into the intake scoop under the wing:




I think that is pretty cool for a part that is unseen unless you look for it.  :wub:  Compare to the real thing:




That part just had to be a bullet magnet. 


And the coolant radiator front and rear faces, also visible if one peers into either the inlet scoop or the outlet door (with flashlight):




The radiator - also a bullet magnet and the root cause of most P-51 losses I believe. 


You will see these details in place painted and weathered next post.  But a sneak preview of one of the fuel vents dry fitted:




I show here all these parts (the big ones anyway) fitted onto the fuselage (almost entirely dry fitted):




I am darned pleased that these parts fit together as well as they do.  Not perfect, but more than adequate.  Remember - I will skin these surfaces.  And also it is here that 3D printing parts made from data off the actual drawings bears its fruit - with a correctly shaped lower fuselage where many other model manufacturers don't get quite right. 


Last post I mentioned that I needed to address the aft-most wing/fuselage fillet fairing - this beastly thing:




So I set out trying to Rhino model this shape, just to get something that served as a surface in which to finish up with some putty or P-38 bondo, and then aluminum skinning.   What a frustrating exercise in 3D surface modeling.  Turned out it needed to be in two pieces, I felt, the lofts were so complicated:





And dry fitted:




They will serve, methinks.  Finishing them off with some bondo and skinning them will be a big challenge.  Not sure when I will attempt that - maybe soon.  Those parts must be exactly located if they are to interface properly with the wing flaps with flaps up.  So I modeled locating pins and holes.  


With the addition of all those fairing parts below the longeron, the fuselage will be too deep to fit onto the fuselage jig.  So let us bid it farewell - here are all the parts that comprised it:




I might use it one last time to final install the engine cowl, but to do that I must cut off the aft half of the jig to make room for those fairings!  We'll see - it is going to be quite a while before the engine cowl is permanently installed.  That jig was vital to this build - may it rest in peace.  


Lastly for this post, it has been right at a year since I began this project, by starting the surfaces model in Rhino, using the point data on various NAA ordinate drawings.  I have added much to it since, and use it still.  This picture then shows what I have to offer for a year's worth of effort:




What an adventure it has been.  Year 2 is going to involve the wing, and hopefully also the aft fuselage and tail.  The wing is on my radar now, and I am thinking over build concepts.  It will be every bit as adventurous as what has already been experienced.  First though, I have more work to do with these new parts, and something tells me now might be the time to skin the rest of this fuselage....


Stick around!






Edited by JayW
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