Apologies for the lack of updates, I’m currently trying to finish a 4,000 word essay on the RN in the Burma Campaign for an MA in Naval History I’m doing. Oddly this is taking a lot of my time! However that’s due in by next Sunday so there should be more to show on the Seafire by then. Cunningly my dissertation will be on Escort Carriers so there’s a lot of cross-over with what I’m doing here!
In the meantime if you’re reading this you’re almost definitely the target audience for Hush Kit’s top 16 Fleet Air Arm aircraft. Lots of top authors and historians have contributed, and then I made up the numbers with some helicopters and the Fairey Fulmar.
After I made the last post I realised I hadn’t modelled the radiator under the starboard wing! That took a bit longer than planned due to real life getting in the way. Since then I’ve also added the early style exhausts that were predominantly used on the Spitfire Vc and Seafire IIc, the later style individual exhausts for each cylinder were used on most if not all Seafire IIIc but should be easier to model as they’re basically a tube!
I’ve also added the early rear view mirror, the Seafire III generally had the later one which was a half sphere. Again I’ll be making that when I update the II to a III. Most of the rest of the work on the external model is the various bumps around the engine and then cutting the access hatch for the cockpit.
So it turns out there are a lot of parts in the wing now. More than 200. So it’s taken me a few weeks to get all the mapping done. Now that’s finished I can finally mirror it and look vaguely symmetrical in flight!
It was only once it was in P3D I realised I hadn’t set the animations for the starboard gear and flaps but that’s only a few minutes work.
The propeller and exhausts still need to be modelled plus some detailing on the fuselage but other than that the basic exterior is done. The more observant may have realised I’ve basically now got a Spitfire Vc, not a Seafire. That’s intentional, the next step for the exterior after it’s all mapped will be adding the parts for a Seafire II, but I’ll probably release the Vc as well as it’s no additional work as long as I save a copy of the model file before I cut the hole for the arrestor hook!
Before I mirror the port wing etc. I want to make sure it’s all texture mapped so I don’t have to do it all twice! The gear is probably the most complicated bit to map and I’ve finally got the leg and the panel on the inside of the door done.
These shots were done in Quixel which lets you assign different materials to different parts and then produces the correct textures. Once I install the P3D v4.4 SDK it should allow me to produce PBR textures fairly easily.
It doesn’t look quite as good in 3D Studio but at least it’s mapped now! There’s probably a similar amount of work to do on the gear bay and then the wing should be fairly straightforward… I’ll probably try and get the PBR textures working in P3D 4.4 before then so I can see how they look. By which I mean I’m hoping by next weekend!
The locking pin (red cylinder in the image) for the Spitfire family undercarriage rotated 180 degrees depending on whether it was acting as an uplock or a downlock. The sloped face allowed the gear strut to push the pin out of the way once it was rotated. The rotation was achieved via a chain and cog controlled via cables connected to the undercarriage controls. Originally I hadn’t planned on modelling these that accurately, because it’s in the gear bay and it seemed a lot of detail for something that’s mostly obscured. But as the alternative was trying to give the impression of a chain with textures I ended up doing it anyway. The picture below shows where it goes, the cables having been disconnected for removal.
I’ve done a short video that shows a) how impressive the animation is and b) how hard it is to actually see in P3D because of the undercarriage and wing being in the way!
The tailhook implementation in FSX and its successors is a bit unrealistic. I only realised this when I was developing the Firefly and couldn’t get it to land without nosing over. When watching from the external view I saw the hook remained fully down even after the wire is caught, which would require a much stronger structure in real life and cause all sorts of issues. The screenshot below shows how it affects the Firefly.
To get around this I added some code to the engine gauge dll that partially closed the hook after a cable is caught. Theoretically for the Firefly it should close fully as that’s how it worked in real life with the hook locking back up, but that causes the wire to release in FSX. That code worked fine in FSX and P3Dv3 and lower. For some reason though, when I ported the dll to P3Dv4 although all the other functions worked the bit that asks the simulator to be told when a wire is caught didn’t work. I didn’t realise this when I was doing my testing as, well, it worked before so why wouldn’t it work now, and isn’t it a long time since I’ve done carrier landings, that must be why they’re so sketchy! An hour or so with a test gauge telling me what was going on demonstrated that in fact, the one bit of the gauge that wasn’t working was the bit that controlled the hook.
After a bit of head scratching I’ve added the request to be told about the wire to a block that asks for lots of other information on the aircraft, and for no obvious reason that works. After a bit more testing everything seems to be working as it should now when you catch a wire. If you compare the angle of the hook in the photo below you’ll see it’s only about a quarter open which holds the aircraft at a nice flat angle even if you punch into the wires a ‘bit’ too fast.
This will all be making its way into the next update, once I’ve finished getting TacPack to work with the Firefly, in the meantime if anyone wants to replace the two affected DLL this zip file has them both. The GriffonII.dll goes in the Firefly F1/Panel folder, GriffonXII.dll goes in the Firefly FR1/Panel folder. These are for P3Dv4 only as the FSX version should already work.
I know some people have found deck landing a bit tricky in the Firefly, and to be honest the main reason I don’t is probably because I did it so many times in testing before I got it right! A useful instructional video from the 1940s is available on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxtXDDShjGs and is worth checking out for hints and tips.