Sunday, December 14, 2014

Bachem Ba-349 'Natter' - Part 01


It's been a while since my last update.   It's been very difficult to get enough free time to engage in my new design.
Anyway, with the little free time I had, I was eventually able to make progress.
Here's where I'm at right now:

You can see it's almost done.  :)
But I will still create and share my work log, starting with this new entry. 

What is the Bachem Ba-349 'Natter' anyway?

Unlike my previous work, this one is technically not a Luft'46 plane.  This one was actually built, tested (unmanned), and flown (manned).  Unfortunately, the first manned flight also resulted in the death of its pilot, Lothar Sieber.
The plane never went operational.
The Natter was designed to be a manned missile.  It would have been launched vertically from a launch platform with the help of four solid fuel rocket packs and its main engine - a Walter HWK 109 rocket.  This is the same engine that powers the ME163 'Komet'.
Initial launch was handled by a crude guidance system that was meant to bring the Natter in the flight path of the approaching Allied bombers.  Once there, the pilot takes manual control and directs the Natter to the bombers.
When within range, the pilot fires the Natter's payload -- an array of 24 Henschel Hs297 Fohn rockets -- stored in the nose section.
Anyway, enough of that.  This is a design blog and not a history blog.
You'll find more about the Natter just by googling.

Creating the framework

In the past, I've always relied using the 4 window panel system of Metaseq: top, front, side, free.
I'd take an image from the 3-view diagram and use it as the background image for the top, side, and front panels.  
But though it gets the job done, it gets a bit difficult to get the exact shape of the model.
This time around, I took the 3-view, and then I created a new flat shape by tracing the outline of the plane like so:

I then 'traced' the other parts - the wings, rudders, tail fins, and fuselage side views.
Once done, I rearranged the parts to create a crude skeleton of the Natter:

Skinning the framework

With the framework completed, I proceeded to "skin" the skeleton by creating a subd surface, using the "skeleton" as the guide.

I started skinning the fuselage:

And after that, I worked on the wings and rudders:

Okay, based on the image above, you'll notice the canopy is wrong.  :)
I tried as hard as I can but I just can't seem to get the boxy canopy correct using subd surfaces.

So instead, I did the canopy manually after converting the subd surface into an actual wireframe:

I'll have to stop at this point for now.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 12 (All Done!)

All done!

The trolley was a bit of a challenge to assemble.  But, a little bit of patience saved the day.

Now, the only thing left to do is to clean up the diagrams so I can upload to :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 11

Time to give the P.1080 some legs...

I based the design of the trolley on the one I used for my earlier model, the Lippisch P.13a.  But of course, I had to make some adjustments to the width and length, based on the size of the plane.

Here's how it looks like with the plane.

Looks like I'll have to wait till the next weekend to work on the textures and build.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 10

Finishing the Engines

It turned out that the engines were the most challenging parts of the model to assemble.  

 Almost done...

Finally, with the last engine completed and attached to the fuselage, the remaining parts -- canopy, wings, rudder and landing skid should be easy.

Finishing Touches

Canopy done!

Wings -- notice the minimal use of formers on the wings.  Actually, for the whole model, only the central fuselage and the wings have formers.

All Done!

III.JG-11 receives the first delivery of the Heinkel P.1080 from Eric Flugzeugwerke!

Actually, I'm not yet done

I still need to work on the trolley that the P.1080 uses for taxiing and takeoff.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 09

Working on the Ramjet Engines

With the fuselage completed, it was time to work on the engines.

I started by assembling the inner part of the engine.  After which, I worked on the outer part.

The idea was to slide the inner tube inside the outer part of the engine.

Finally, the engine attached to the fuselage.
One more engine to go!

Unfortunately, this was the farthest I could go for the weekend.  :(

Friday, September 19, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 08

Build Started!

Lots of small fiddly pieces...but persistence paid off.
I started with assembling 2/3 of the fuselage from the tail end, and then 1/3 from the front end.

Then, before joining the two parts of the fuselage, I cut out the area that would later intersect with the engines.

Finally, the fuselage is done!

Save for some small fiddly pieces like the gun tubes, it was a relatively straightforward assembly.

Next up, the engine fairings, and hopefully, the engines.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 07

Working on the Camo

For this model, I used a plane-jane splinter camo pattern.

Originally, I wanted to do that famous squiggly pattern that the Luftwaffe aircraft was known for.  But I was not sure if it would look good.  So I made a small test pattern on the wings.
It was "nice".  But it kinda overpowered the details of the plane, such as the liveries and the seams+joints. 
I'll do without the squiggly lines for now.  Maybe I'll try again on a different design.

Camo Completed!

I decided to use the markings from III./JG11.

Bottom shot looks really clean.  I'll see if I can add some weathering to this.  

Frontal shot looks badass!

With the camo pattern done, the next step would be to start the test build!
As always, I'll be working in 1:48 scale.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 06

Still so much work to do...

Unfortunately, I botched up the UV-Mapping job that I did last week.
I used Pepakura to export the UV mapping info, which I then imported back to Metaseq.  I didn't realize that the UV mapping info that Pepakura exported had the X-axis inverted!  I only realized this when I started working on making the lines or seams that represent the joints on the aircraft.

I had to redo the whole UV-mapping.  

Glue Guides

I also spent a lot of time drawing and positioning the place markers for the engines, fairings, rudder and canopy.

Skinning Progress

Finally, with the tedious guide lines done, I can work with the actual skinning.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 05

UV Mapping Started!

And so begins one of the most tedious tasks in this model's creation -- UV Mapping.  

UV Mapping involves placing or "mapping" each vertex and edge against an image.   This tells the 3d renderer how to "draw" or "wrap" that image onto the model.  

Since I used an impractical amount of vertices and faces, it took a while to complete the UV Mapping.


Most of my free time was consumed by the UV Map creation.  Little time was left for the actual skinning.  However, I was able to finish the cockpit canopy. 


Friday, August 29, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 04


After cleaning up the model, it was time to unwrap the wire frame.  
I started the unwrapping operation using Ultimate Papercraft 3D.  At first, everything went smoothly.  Despite the clunky user interface, I was able to perform edge cutting and parts layout quickly.  But then, disaster struck.  As I was in the middle of unwrapping the engine, I got an "OUT OF MEMORY" error message dialog box.  Huh?  I checked my HDD light to see if it were thrashing/paging.  Nope.  Everything was okay.  So I saved my work and restarted UPC3D.  It ran fine again.  Maybe just a glitch.  5 minutes later, the "OUT OF MEMORY" error came up again!  WTF?

I quit and started googling.  It was then that I saw a forum thread that complained about the same thing.  And the thread also stated that the UPC3D devs declared this to be a limitation of UPC3D to support low poly models only.  Hell! What's the use of having limitless texture sizes if I have to work with low-frikkin-poly-models!?

Disappointing!  "OUT OF MEMORY" issues on a standalone application are UNFORGIVABLE!  SLOPPY PROGRAMMING!

Anyway, long story short, I went back to PEPAKURA.

I'll just have to find another way to deal with the texture size limit.

Unwrap completed!  I'll be working in 1:48 scale, by the way.

Next step, UV-MAPPING!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 03

Broken Wings

Arrgh!!!! As I was simplifying the wings, I noticed something bad.  The chord of the wings are symmetric on top and bottom.  Bad...  

I need to start over.

That's more like it!

Unfortunately, I lost precious hours working on the previous wing before I realized my mistake. :(

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Heinkel P.1080 - Part 02

Converting the Patch Surface into Wire Frames

In my previous update, I stopped just after I finished creating the spline/patch surfaces that comprised the model.  
Next, I converted that into an actual wire frame that I can edit.

Notice again that excess portions of the wings and the engine fairing are inside the engine tube.  
A series of boolean subtract operations are needed to remove the excess portions.


After the boolean substract operations, you'll see that the junk in the engine tube have been removed.  Also, you'll notice that the edges where each main part intersect are now clean.

Engine Details 

With the engine tube cleaned up, I could now add the ram jet's inlet cone and supports.

Notice that the engine tube's cross section isn't a perfect circle.   I think this is a side effect of the spline/patch tool of Metaseq.  Anyway, it shouldn't be a major issue once the model is assembled as an actual card model.


At this point, the model looks really nice.  But it's far too complex to use for producing card models.
The next step involves carefully removing edges at key areas, making sure stay close to the original shape.

Still not done, unfortunately.  The wings still need work.  But the image above should show you how the model "should" look like once it's built in cardboard.

That's all for now.